Life of Pi – A new breathtaking adventure filled with elusive technical wonders. Award winning director Ang Lee reinvents Yann Martel’s highly acclaimed novel, Life of Pi, bringing to the screen a seemingly unfilmable story with astonishing proficiency in computer animation. Although I expected a lengthy adaptation of the book, the movie delivered mystery, excitement and surprise to eager fans of the original book. If you love fantasy adventure movies and dreamlike technical effects, then this is a movie you’ll really enjoy.
Life of Pi follows the journey of Piscine Patel, a philosophist who tells the story of his own extraordinary life to an unidentified Canadian author, presumably Martel himself. Pi’s story describes his childhood in the former French Colonial city of Pondicherry where he was raised by two passionate zookeepers, Santosh and Gina Patel. Growing up, Pi was fascinated by religion and began his quest through Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. He was constantly surrounded by animals at his fathers struggling zoo, and when the struggle became too much his father decided to relocate the animals to Canada with his family. Not long after setting sail, the bulky Cargo ship faced a large storm in the middle of the Pacific Ocean – with the sole survivor being 17 year old Pi Patel. As the animals were cast out to sea, a range of creatures made it onto Pi’s tiny lifeboat, stranded in the middle of the ocean. To his shock and terror Pi soon discovers Bengal Tiger, Richard Parker, hidden under the tarpan. The film suddenly bursts to life as Pi desperately tries to find a way he can survive aboard the vessel in partnership with a big, aggressive hunter
Director Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) is known best for impressive visual effects and state-of-the-art 3D enterprise. No doubt Lee was searching for the visual substitute of the original novel’s magic, and there are numerous beautiful scenes to match. The admirable scenes feature floating stars, glowing jellyfish, a swarm of flying fish, expressive blue skies and an intruding whale to name a few. Ang Lee and his technicians effectively portray the infamous story using high key lighting, angles, high impact music and vivid action shots.
Suraj Sharma lacks in acting experience but this is put to good use by the director, considering Pi Patel must gradually grow in wisdom as the film proceeds. The adult Pi Patel, played by Irrfan Khan, handles his character perfectly and provides depth and empathy throughout the film. More impressive is the CGI tiger, Richard Parker, who consistently looks nothing less than realistic. Every movement of the computer animated tiger is a beauty to watch. The script was strong and effective although unfortunately the text was often misheard and inaudible, in conjunction with the thick Indian accents. The actors and animated animals assisted in enhancing the plot and authenticity, improving the film altogether.
Life of Pi is a unique drama adventure for the patient at heart. Avoid this film if you’re into fast paced action, the film tends to carry on and occasionally becomes quiet dull. Putting this aside, I enjoyed Life of Pi very much. The film has managed to conserve the most compelling parts of the original novel and the on screen effects are outstanding. Lee delivers yet another marvelous film that reinforces the morals from the original novel and successfully extends the story in a fresh and contemporary light.