Life of Pi – Review

By on November 28, 2012

Life of Pi

The First Word

East meets West once again as an Oscar-winning director originating from Taiwan, Ang Lee, creates a Hollywood film based on an Indian family. Inspired by its namesake best-selling novel, Life of Pi comes with extra intrigue and excitement as one anticipates the cocktail cooked by the multiple cultural influences from the film’s entire cast and crew.

Life of Pi – Stunning visuals

The Story

From an early age, Piscine Patel felt himself inclined towards spiritual development and the various religions practiced in his Pondicherry neighbourhood  Extraordinarily wise for his age, he practiced the principles and traditions of Hinduism just as much as those of Christianity and Islam, while his peers busied themselves in contrastingly petty matters. The ridicule that he faced from them, and even his elder brother and father, didn’t deter him from further exploring and experiencing the depths of nature and theology. Throughout the film his faith is tested, as he later finds himself stranded in the Pacific Ocean with limited survival supplies, and a hungry roaring tiger for company. How he opportunistically tackles his adversities while still maintaining his unwavering and unconditional faith in God forms the crux of the film. The film ends with a number of questions left unanswered, as Lee inclines his audience to introspect and interpret the answers and messages for themselves.

Lost at Sea with a Tiger

The Good

  1. The graphics, graphics, and graphics! This movie comes laden with some of the most picturesque landscapes ever seen on celluloid. Whether it is the starry nights in the Pacific Ocean, the eloquent dancing dolphins, or the vivid roars of a fierce tiger – almost all the scenes are aesthetically artistic. The special effects were such, that they led the audiences immersed in Pi’s life, and made them ‘believe the unbelievable’. Watching this film in 3D in an IMAX cinema takes the visual epiphany to another level, and completely justifies the four years’ worth of laborious efforts by Lee et al.
  2. A film with a message. It is not often that such a commercially viable film explores the depths of philosophy. The audiences voyage with Pi, as he learns, questions, and realizes new truths about himself, humanity and his faith. Depending on each person’s acuity and interpretation, there could be multiple messages and insights open to appreciation.
  3. Suraj Sharma. A lot was at stake for Lee when he risked the gamble of taking an inexperienced teenage actor for his mainstay character in his big-budgeted film. However, Suraj has risen with flying with colors. Tasked with a challenging role of emoting with a CGI-animated tiger on an ocean-like set, he pitches in a stellar performance, and manages to keep his audience interested throughout his journey. Surely, a name to look out for!

 The Bad

  1. Slow paced. If one were to disregard Yann Martel’s novel and just plot a list of the events that occurred in the movie, they would quickly run out of steam. A large portion of the movie is dedicated to depict Pi’s experience of being stranded on his boat, and in a rather filmy fashion, the movie promptly ends when he reaches shore. That’s it.
  2. Unrealistic. How likely is it for a teenager to recover relatively unscathed after surviving the worst of storms on a small boat and in the company of an untamed tiger?
  3. The characters’ names. Although the movie explains how the protagonist and his animal companion got their interesting and ‘different’ names, one does get eventually peeved by the fact that the Indian protagonist is named after a mathematical constant, while a tiger is given a respectable – albeit foreign –human name – Richard Parker, which is repeated again and again in its entirety. I’m sure after surviving 227 days with the Tiger; Pi could’ve started calling him Ricky. Undoubtedly, this was done with a thoughtful intent, but on the surface value it surely sounded uncanny.

Oscar winner, Director Ang Lee

 The Rating

Thanks to the wonderful and multicultural combination of international best-selling story, an Oscar-winning director, and supremely talented cast and crew, nothing less than magic is created in the 127 minutes of proceedings. We rate it 4 out of 5 for its chief achievements of its ambitious vision.

Suraj Sharma – Got his lucky break while accompanying his brother to the audition.

The Last Word

What transpired was a rare synergy of beauty and brains; a truly intelligent, thought-provoking, emotional, entertaining, and visual masterpiece.

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Suraj Samtani

Born and brought up in Hong Kong, Suraj explores the depth of his Indianised experiences of Hong Kong through his writing. As an awarded poet and published academic writer, he looks forward to turning a new page with his innings at HKYantoYan.

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