Sunday, January 13, 2013

Life of Pi - Movie Review

In Life of Pi, we are told the life of Piscine Molitor Patel, or Pi, who allegedly has a story that can make one believe in God. In the hands of an unknown writer, he gives a retelling of how he survived for 227 days at sea, a tale of adventure and discovery, after a horrific accident on a Japanese freighter all the while establisihing a strange relationship with a peculiarly named fearsome Bengal Tiger.

Life of Pi is without a doubt a visual spectacle. In fact, it was marketed as such profusely in various media. In most cases, movies that focus on being a spectacular visual feast usually lack in other aspects like acting and story. However, in Life of Pi, the plot and the acting are the real spectacles and it is amazing to see all these elements play out on the silver screen. Aside from a few quips here and there, Life of Pi is a very enjoyable and surprisingly intimate experience.

The uncanny relationship you can't help but love.

The plot is interesting because it tries to tackle the long running questions of theology and our humanity with some underlying tones of polytheism. But the film somehow stays aware of its role and doesn't bombard you with pretentious theological beliefs. In fact, by the end, the viewer is given complete control over his/her own reflection and not every movie can do that. Life of Pi does it beautifully, not just in its execution but in its spectacular visuals. The pacing of the film starts out a little slow. Nothing really happens in the first 15-30 minutes but things take a huge leap the moment Pi starts talking about his adventure with a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. On paper, it may look absurd, but the relationship in the movie was believable. Unfortunately, though his adventure at sea may seem interesting, there are points where I felt the film had nothing to tell and plot progression came to a complete halt and to compensate for this, it stretched certain sequences and focused on visuals.

One major thing I liked about the story is how it went full circle by the end. Aside from the minor "twist" for lack of a better word, I thought the ending was perfect the way it is. It was wide open for interpretation and in a sense you kind of learn some things about yourself too. In the end you are indirectly posed a question. This question is something that I know, bothers some of us. But by the end of the movie, you'll somehow feel that you just made one tiny step closer to your answer. It was powerful, and it was meaningful. I just had some problems understanding the accent at the last scene when Pi was recounting his story to reporters. I think the effect of that scene was lost on me because I was concentrating on trying to understand the dialogue. Entirely my fault.

Truly breathtaking.

While I consider Life of Pi a graphical feat, it was for some parts very inconsistent. There are a lot of breathtaking moments with wide shots you've never seen before in cinema. The water reflecting the sky, the absolutely beautiful lighting, the lush and rich islands and the very well made animals. I swear at some points I didn't know if Richard Parker (the tiger) was real or not and I didn't have to know because it didn't matter. It all looked so great on screen.

It wasn't just beautiful but there were a lot of moments where I felt tense to the point that I almost wounded one of my fingers because of the pressure. I really do not know how Ang Lee and his crew managed to overcome all the technological hurdles in making those tense scenes and how the actors did such a great job at complementing them. However, I couldn't help but notice how the 3D effect of some scenes feel "cheap". Especially when the aspect ratios change drastically. There was one time the aspect ratio turned into something akin to 4:3 and it was very jarring and it took me out of the experience. It doesn't help that it lasted for around 10-20 seconds too.

I felt like that too.

For the most part, the acting was great. The dialogue was convincing enough and the interaction of Pi with what I assume is a CG tiger was not in the least bit awkward.

Overall, Life of Pi was a great movie. It had amazing graphics and visual flare. It had a decent and touching story. The acting was up to par with a lot of other movies released in 2012, maybe some of the best. In Life of Pi, you are given the opportunity to "Believe the Unbelievable"


  1. Its a good movie movie but not so good as Jason has already made or acted in previous movies...



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