LIFE OF PI
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Shravanthi Sainath, Rafe Spall
Director: Ang Lee
Audio: DTS HD 7.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 123 Minutes
Release Date: March 12, 2013
“Even when God seemed to have abandoned me, He was watching. Even when He seemed indifferent to my suffering, He was watching. And when I was beyond all hope of saving, He gave me rest and gave me a sign to continue my journey.”
I’m grateful that every once in a great while, a movie comes around to remind us all just how magical an experience motion pictures can be. Life of Pi is pure enchantment.
It was originally thought to be an unfilmable novel, but after seeing this extraordinarily rich visual experience, I’m wondering how it could have ever been a book. Books inspire my imagination, but my imagination has never gotten anywhere close to the wonders of this film.
It begins with an unnamed writer (Spall) speaking to an Indian expatriate in French Canada named Pi (Khan). The writer had just abandoned years of work on a fruitless writing project and is looking for inspiration. Pi, he was told, had a story that would make him believe in God.
Pi begins to tell his story…growing up in India with a real name that sounded a bit too much like a bodily function, living on a zoo owned by his family, and searching for God through Hinduism, Catholicism, and Islam.
When the economic tide turns sour in India, his father decides to move the family to Canada. They will set sail on a big tanker that holds all their animals, including a magnificent tiger amusingly named Richard Parker, so they can be sold in the West.
It was not to be. A terrible storm sinks the ship, leaving young Pi (Sharma) on a small lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with meager supplies, and…you guessed it…the tiger.
Don’t roll your eyes…this is not Disney. Richard Parker is a real tiger and all that that implies. He’s no cute, cuddly creature who defends Pi, but a carnivore and a deadly menace. How can Pi possibly survive alone out at sea with a maneater as companion?
That’s as much as I want to say. This is not a movie about plot points, although the story is inspiring, moving, and enchanting. The real wonder, which I do not have the skills to convey by means of the written word, is just how visually rich and jaw-droppingly imaginative this film is. Many argue about whether 3D is a true enhancement to the art form of cinema or just a crowd-pleasing gimmick, but I can only say this: Life of Pi is the first, and so far only, movie I will tell you that you HAVE TO SEE IN 3D.
Trying to describe the wonders of this movie is like trying to describe the smell of the color nine. All I can say, with all honesty and no hyperbole, is that every scene seemed to top the one before. This movies has so much visual splendor and imagination, it makes Avatar look like Pac-Man.
It was directed by Ang Lee, who richly deserved his Oscar win for directing. It’s not just a mess of CGI, like so many movies these days, but performances interacting with special effects and incredible camerawork bringing it all to life. Yet the visuals are just eye candy without a story, and this spiritual journey moved me like few films can.
Truthfully, I can’t wait to watch it again…and I hope I can do it many more times, preferably seated next to someone who is seeing it for the first time.
It’s hard for me to imagine anything coming out the remainder of this year that will equal the quality of this disc from Fox. It is easily THE best 3D presentation I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t spot one flaw in 2 hours. And the 3D serves the story rather than overwhelming it. The colors are vibrant and gorgeous, especially in scenes I couldn’t possibly begin to describe on paper.
From the sinking ship to the storms, to the lovely score, this is a beautifully clear and dynamic DTS HD soundtrack. Spoken words are clean and clear throughout, but the effects give it a tremendous sense of ambience and added realism.
On the 3D disc, you get several deleted scenes, the trailer, and looks at the sinking of the ship and the wave tank…all in 3D, but with the option of watching in 2D if you prefer.
The 2D Blu-ray includes three production featurettes, an art gallery, and storyboards. A digital copy disc is also included.
Life of Pi is truly a perfect film, in every way a film can be perfect. It will also be THE go-to disc you grab to show off your home theatre. And it’s officially the best reason ever presented to upgrade yourself to 3D.