Review: Life of Pi

THE SETUP: A man (younger man Suraj Sharma, older man Irrfan Khan) recounts his life story, filled with stupid first names, sinking ships, survival at sea, a bengal tiger and finding God…or Gods.

THE THOUGHTS: Reviewing a movie based on a book always has its challenges. On one side, if I didn’t read the book, I won’t identify with the masses that did. If I did read the book, I can’t review the film based on its own merits. Damned if you do…

I’m of the opinion that it’s better I don’t read it, that way I can determine if the story was well told without relying on my knowledge of the source material filling in the blanks. And so it goes with Life of Pi.

This movie has all the good ingredients: amazing visuals, top-notch acting and a story you can get into. So let’s talk about those…

  1. Visuals – Director Ang Lee really went all out to make this as eye-pleasing as possible. Most of the movie looks straight out of a painting, with unbelievably vibrant colours. I was worried the visuals would be hurt by shooting in 3D (usually they come out darker) but I didn’t find that at all. Stunning is the word. I need to mention the bengal tiger as well. It’s probably obvious that it would have to be CGI as they wouldn’t put the actor in harm’s way but that tiger looks SO REAL. We’ve come a long way since Jumanji.
  2. Acting – I looked up on IMDB and it doesn’t say that Suraj Sharma acted in anything before this. Um, wow. Kid is good. Whether he’s interacting with a fake tiger or sharing a horrifying story to some insurance investigators, this guy was amazing. Pretty much everyone else were supporteing the story, either the older version of the character (Irrfan Khan is always good), his family or the writer hearing this tale. All brought something.
  3. Story – Any movie about religious faith has the danger of being too “hit you over the head with it”. This isn’t the case. It’s a great story about how we choose to relate to the world and others, it just so happens to have some pretty cool action and adventure moments.

4 stars – you’d recommend this.
A visually amazing tale of survival and finding faith that is less preachy and more adventurous. The introduction of a damn good actor too with Suraj Sharma. This movie will be (and already has) noticed for quite a few awards.

Random Recommendations
Finding Neverland (2004) – remember when Johnny Depp didn’t wear makeup or funny hats? This movie (written by the same screenwriter as Life of Pi) is a heartfelt time capsule of J.M. Barrie‘s life: the relationship he had with a family that inspired Peter Pan. Though it’s grounded in reality, it does a great job promoting the importance of imagination. Kate Winslet and Dustin Hoffman are in here too.

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