Monday, December 3, 2012

Life of Pi

Ever since Avatar reigned supreme at the box office in 2009, the 3D craze has swept Hollywood. While I’m a fan of 3D movies, too many of them take the cheap route by adding 3D in postproduction and sacrifice story in the name of visuals—I do not like that. Fortunately that wasn’t the case with Life of Pi, the film based on Yann Martel’s novel of the same name.

For those who don’t know, here’s how IMDb describes Life of Pi: “Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zoo keeper. Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, the family decides to move to Canada, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a shipwreck, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.”

Academy Award winner Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Brokeback Mountain and Sense and Sensibility) directed the film, and he was intent on utilizing 3D technology to its fullest potential. Right from the get go the viewers are hit with some amazing visuals as the camera jumps from animal to animal at a zoo. It was almost like a fighter flexing his muscles before a fight, one that you just knew was going to be good.

Not only did Life of Pi make a strong first impression, it continued to impress throughout its entirety. An epic shipwreck, a swarm of flying fish and a field full of meercats were just a few of the scenes that captivated. The visuals were truly breathtaking, but it was even more impressive that they were designed to support a great story. The film is an Adventure/Drama that sees Pi take an “epic journey of adventure and discovery". I won’t spoil what those discoveries are, but I feel everyone will relate to what they see—I know I did.

Carsen Nachreiner was the buddy for this film.

Newcomer Suraj Sharma, who was actually cast after accompanying his brother to an audition, played the title character, and he turned out to be a gem. He carried the majority of the film by interacting with non-speaking animals, which was not an easy task. On a side notem the animals were actually portrayed in a very realistic manner, which had been a big concern of mine. Anyway, Sharma did a tremendous job bringing the animals to life, such as the (mostly) CGI-produced Richard Parker, who became a strong supporting character. Irrfan Khan, who you may recall from Slumdog Millionaire, also did a great job as the adult Pi as I found myself hanging on his every word each time he was onscreen.

Thanks to superb visuals, a sturdy story, and deep performances, Life of Pi truly takes the viewer on an adventure. It reminded me of a combination of Castaway and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (at least the adventure/visual aspect), and it blended well. I’m comfortable saying that Life of Pi tops the list of 3D movies I’ve seen up to this point (Yes, I liked it even more than Avatar), and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it nominated for several Academy Awards. Any serious cinema fan will surely appreciate this movie, but make sure you see it in 3D as its well worth the few extra bucks.

Buddies Forever Movie Club Rating: 86%

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