MRR Movie Review: Life of Pi


Movie Review: "Life of Pi"

-- Rating: PG (some scary sequences, peril, emotional content)
Length: 127 minutes
Release Date: Nov 21, 2012
Directed by: Ang Lee
Genre: Adventure / Drama

"Life of Pi" is a cinematic masterpiece and sensory overload that gifts audiences with glorious sights and scenes that are unforgettable. Academy Award-winning director Ang Lee has truly outdone himself, creating a movie that is as emotional and moving as it is beautiful.

"Life of Pi" tells the story of Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan), an older man who has lived through and conquered incredible adversity. Pi has agreed to tell the story of his life to a struggling writer (Rage Spall) who has sought him out for the astounding tale. As Pi begins his account of his life, he warns the man that not only will his story leave the man mesmerized but it will also lead him to believe in God.

Bits and pieces of Pi's life spill forth, with the most incredible being his survival for 227 days drifting in the open ocean. Pie explained that at sixteen, he and his family set out in a cargo ship to North America from India for a fresh, new life. Accompanied by a menagerie of zoo animals that his family planned to sell, all seemed to be well for the family. While the trip is intended to bring happiness and prosperity, it is tragically ended when a massive storm strikes that leaves the boat sinking and Pi adrift. Stranded, Pi is forced to take charge and endures and insightful adventure of discovery and reflection.

In his unfortunate circumstance, Pi is left in the company of a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker who quickly eliminates every living being but Pi. As time goes on, Pi incredibly coexists with the ferocious feline, no doubt because of his vast knowledge of animals and their behavior. The relationship between Pi and Richard Parker is certainly memorable as it evolves, capturing the heart of the audience. This unique kinship is a main theme of the film and adds buckets of powerful emotion. From being fierce enemies to respecting one another for survival's sake, it is a high-stakes relationship with plenty of twists and turns.

As Pi continues on with the tale of his adventure, he mentions the constant test of his faith and conviction. From eating raw meat when raised a strict vegetarian to dealing with desperation, Pi discovers the true meaning of faith in his journey. The message is heavy and certainly will hit viewers' already heavy hearts.

Suraj Sharma is excellent as the teenaged Pi, giving the character just enough spunk to keep him interesting. It'd be very easy for an actor to accidentally loosen the reigns and let boredom slip in to audiences' mind in such a film, but Sharma holds viewers' attention.

The intense action scenes of the film balance nicely with the smooth, whimsical periods of reflection as Pi speaks of his lost life in India and his deep emotional experience of being adrift. Viewers will go from heart-stopping bursts of excitement to moments that steal their frozen hearts right out of their chests. The drama is powerful and moving enough to make "Life of Pi" a heavy hitter that tugs at the viewers' heartstrings.

When emotion isn't weighing on the audience, they'll be transfixed by the incredible scenery of the film. From gorgeous, sparkling water to endless, breathtaking skies, the film brings to life a beauty that a person has to see to believe. The film leaves nothing to the imagination, as every aesthetic wonder is expertly illustrated before the viewer's eyes. Combined with unbelievably real settings and sounds, there is a depth to the film that is rare. Viewers can truly feel like they are existing in Pi's world even without taking advantage of the 3D element available to them.

The visual effects and talent that make the scenery possible are astounding. The work that was poured into the film is clear, particularly with the tiger, Richard Parker. Utilizing a real tiger in some scenes and a CGI tiger in others, it's surprisingly easy for the viewer to forget that the tiger isn't always real while watching the film. This is a rare feat and is well-worth seeing for the intensity it brings.

"Life of Pi" is the must-see movie event of the year. The film is truly an experience in itself and worth the trip to the theater.

Stars: 4 out of 5