Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Life of Pi 3D Review

Director Ang Lee has made a wide range of films from American family drama, "The Ice Storm" to a lyrical martial arts saga, "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" to comic book blockbuster "Hulk" to a controversial romance in "Brokeback Mountain." Now he does what Martin Scorsese did last year and enters the world of 3-D (3D) filmmaking with the cinematic version of Yann Martel's novel, The Life of Pi.

The film, The Life of Pi, is exactly that. It's about Pi Patel, how he got his name, his boyhood life in India, and his family's zoo business. The boy Pi has sincere interest in all religions whether they be Islam, Hinduism or Catholicism. When Pi becomes a teenager, (Suraj Sharma) his family decides to move to Canada, taking with them their zoo animals. The ship on which they are traveling runs into a storm and sinks. Pi survives by boarding a lifeboat. Also on the boat are some of the zoo animals. They are a zebra, orangutan and hyena. Unfortunately, the zoo's tiger, Richard Parker, is also on board. The bulk of the movie is about the journey of Pi as he tries to survive with a carnivorous tiger.

The remarkable thing about The Life of Pi is that the filmgoer knows how Pi's perilous sea journey ends at the beginning of the movie. So how do director Lee and screenwriter David Magee keep the interest? They do so by having healthy doses of humor, and balancing the philosophical ideas and the drama of survival. From the start, when a character says that one will believe in God when you hear the tale of Pi, Lee mates this idea with Pi's struggle to keep the tiger from eating him. It's done as Pi narrates his story. It's also done with Lee's visual style.

And what visual style! Lee's film is beautiful to look at. There's a surreal feel to many of the scenes. The CGI that can hinder a movie's realism, works well here. Scenes look like paintings. Yet the CGI did wonders with some of the tiger's scenes. But it's the surreal scenes of the ocean, the skies and an island that will rivet a filmgoer. And the 3D is the best use of it in a fictional film since Scorsese's Hugo. (2011) First, it helps that the movie was filmed in 3-D. Lee doesn't ignore 3D. He uses it. Many times I believed I was in the movie. Lee does this by emphasizing the depth. The result for this movie is that it made me think about the ideas in the movie. See this movie in 3D.

The Life of Pi is a stunning achievement. It's cinematic entertainment that crosses into the area of high art. It does so by asking the audience to think while immersing them with beautiful and surreal images. It asks questions. How does one deal with tragedy? What is the nature of religion? And yes, Pi's story did make me believe in God. The grade is A +.


Anonymous said...

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Bernie Wong said...

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