Life of Pi


Product Details5 Stars

Well, it’s nice that the last two movies I’ve watched have both earned my five star grade.  As a fitting end to Pi Day, March 14th,  I watched Life of Pi, the film that took home the Oscars for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects.  I would have to agree with the Academy on all of these.

After watching the Oscars, and relishing in my victory of the Oscar Pool at work (21 out of 24 by the way), I was discussing the ceremonies and the awards with a friend, and mentioned how disappointed I was that I had missed seeing Life of Pi in theatres.  I do believe this film would have been an amazing experience in 3D, and when given the choice, there was only one other film I consciously wanted to see in 3D and that was Dredd.  I thought that there was a slight possibility that Life of Pi would return to theatres near me riding the high off their Oscar wins, but I don’t think that happened, or it did and I didn’t pay enough attention…story of my life.  I told my friend that I had read and enjoyed the book a great deal and was asked to nutshell the plot, here was my précis:

An Indian boy and his family are travelling by boat to Canada after selling their family zoo and delivering the last of the animals on their way to a new life.  A storm hits, and the boat sinks, but the boy (Pi; short for Piscine) manages to get to a lifeboat, which he soon discovers he is sharing with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and Richard Parker, the zoo’s tiger.  Very soon the number of lifeboat inhabitants dwindles to two; how will Pi survive adrift in the ocean with a tiger as his only, hungry, companion?

I believe it was a intended as a compliment that my description sounded like it could have come from the back of the movie box. 😉  We discussed the book a bit more, and remarked that the book is considered a classic.  I had read the book , and heard a lot about it, and from what we had both heard, it seemed like the book was older that it actually is.  Life of Pi was only published in 2001 by Yann Martel.  Of course with most book adaptations, there are parts added to the movie that didn’t really factor in to the book, as well as parts of the book that don’t have as much focus in the movie.  I still think that this was an excellent movie, and excellent book, and an excellent adaptation; certainly worth reading and viewing and perhaps the one example where I don’t think it matters if you read the book first.

This was more than just a movie, it was art.  It was a film that pushed the limit of the visual effects team, elevating their work from more than just routine explosions or aliens, and allowing them to create a work of beauty.  The right sky, the right light, the right waves.  All were very very well done, and critical to the film.  The film was shot mainly in blue screen in a water tank, and used a mix of animated and real animals.  Richard Parker looked so incredibly realistic that I couldn’t really tell which scenes had a real tiger and which did not.  Suraj Sharma as Pi, did a fantastic job, not only acting against real and invisible animals, but also performing all his own stunts.  All the wave scenes, all the storms, he actually did them which I think helped with the continuity of the film.  Pi got thinner as his journey went on, he gets sun burnt, and he looks weary.  I suppose the long shoots also contributed to that.  Sharma never actually filmed a scene with the real tiger for safety’s sake, so their scenes together are clever tricks of editing and the incredible use of a seamless CGI tiger.

Is this a story about friendship?  Is this a story about survival?  Self discovery?  The emotional journey?  Religion?  God?  Yes, it is all these things, and it really begins when the ship sinks, and Pi’s life really changes.  We understand him and have learned about his childhood and his beliefs, but now the emotional journey begins.  Pi’s journey on the sea represents the internal turmoil he is experiencing as well as his spiritual journey.  He is at first scared of the tiger, but adapts to live with him, finding peace.  The “Storm of God” comes and he finds it beautiful, similar to his curiosity about the storm that sank the boat and took his family from him.  I know how powerful the storm came through at home on my TV, I can only imagine how magnificent it must have been to see in the theatre with the full sound treatment.  In the end, Pi survives because of his mind, his resourcefulness, his faith, and his ability to care for and to train a tiger not to eat him.

Life of Pi is first movie I’ve watched on Blu-ray that deserved to be watched on Blu-ray.  Now the next step is to try and figure out if i can hook a Blu-ray up to my existing home theatre in the basement to enjoy it even more with the surround sound, because I definitely want to watch this movie again.

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Posted on 13-03-15, in 5 Star, Movie Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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