Life of Pi (2012)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 9:51 PM | Posted in


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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 8.6/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 10/10 (Full Score)

LIFE OF PI (2012) - Ang Lee

Meet Pi, who lives a prosperous lifestyle with his family, who starts to follow three religions as once as he desires to love God, whose father owns a sensational zoo. This was his life, and it is all about to change.

Due to political concerns in India, Pi's family decides to sell the zoo and move to Canada, embarking on a small Japanese boat carrying some of the animals. However, a strong storm capsizes the boat, leaving Pi stranded on a small lifeboat with an adult Bengal tiger, a spotted hyena, an injured zebra, and an orangutan. This is where the Life of Pi takes the journey of a lifetime.

The film begins with an adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) reminiscing about his childhood, exploring his character, letting us understand and learn who he is. The movie then takes its time here, immersing us into the world of the zoo, the world that Pi lives in, and his relationship with his family. This absorption covers three stages in Pi's life: Five years old to fourteen to sixteen (Suraj Sharma). We learn about his love for the animals, how it gives him a sense of animal psychology. We learn about how he was born a Hindu, but he is introduced to Christianity and Islam. We learn about his first love, sweet but abrupt due to the family's sudden departure from the country. In a way, the storytelling is similar to the storytelling of Jamal Malick from Slumdog Millionaire. This is Life of Pi's most unexpected choice, where it remains faithful to the novel and takes its time to let us come close to Pi, to relate to him, before the main story that the whole world knows even comes into play. Believe me, the film needed the introduction, otherwise Ang Lee would have been unable to overwhelm you with his visionary images and imagination.

The majority of Life of Pi takes place on the lifeboat and chronicles the 227-day experience Pi goes through with the animals, most notably the tiger, which the film reveals to be named Richard Parker. Here, it is a tale of survival, in a way parallel to Tom Hanks and his efforts made in Cast Away. Pi fights high tides, lightning storms, lack of food, and lack of water.

The visual effects were made by Rhythm & Hues Studios, most known for their Academy Award winning film The Golden Compass and the first film of the Narnia franchise. Without a doubt, Life of Pi will be nominated for Best Visual Effects, and I will not be surprised if it won. The animals on the boat were almost all computer generated, but I guarantee you, the tiger looks as realistic as you can possibly get it. As for the human interactions with the CGI animals, it does nothing but make the animals feel even more real. Even better, the human interactions are what hold the emotional impact of the film.

Every scene that involves Pi and Richard Parker are tremendously powerful. Whether the scene is them clashing towards each other or them more accepting towards each other, Life of Pi holds you at the heart. With a lack of music to enhance the realism, each moment will take your breath away. You might just find yourself with your mouth open, admiring the power, the emotion, and the passion of Sharma as an actor and Lee as a director. But once the imagination and visionary gems come in, you will inevitably find yourself jaw-dropped.

Life of Pi must win the Academy Award for Best Director, hands down. Lee's creative power and his resourcefulness to put originality in the tiniest things drives the visual aspect of the film. To give an example of the "tiniest things," the film takes the idea of a boat floating in the ocean and turns it into a majestic image that only an artist and a poet can imagine. It is not where the image is created by having the sea with the boat and the sky. It is an image where all three elements combine into one single piece, where the boat blends into the sky and the ocean does not look like water but like glass. Time magazine called the film "the next Avatar. A visual miracle," and after viewing Life of Pi, I cannot agree more. It is the most beautiful film of 2012, if not one of the most beautiful in years. 

Surprisingly, this film and its New Age-like appeal demands to be seen not only on the big screen, but also in 3D. In agreeing with the Denver Post, you need to "shelve your dislike of 3D glasses." You need to "quiet your nattering criticism of CGI. Because Lee and his able crew wield those tools like wands." The reason why this use of 3D must be experienced is because Ang Lee never used the film for visual surprises, but to enhance the sense of places and the spectacular events that occur in the film, similar but even better than Martin Scorsese's approach to 3D in Hugo. As a result, Life of Pi is probably the greatest 3D movie ever, even better than AvatarLife of Pi, similar to Cloud Atlas, is not just a film. It is an experience, a visual spectacle that makes you believe why Pi would believe in God, how He is the "tester of souls and the creator of beauty."

The very heart of Life of Pi is that it achieves the impossible -- providing the most amazing visual experience while being a marvelous achievement of filmmaking and storytelling. As mentioned before, the crux of the film is the sea journey. This very journey not only provides the jewels of God's creations, but it demonstrates that man can think with great innovation and that animals can learn. The film does its job of a cinematic movie, where it tells its story, but it also combines elements of religion and appreciation for the world, becoming one single marriage of life. For Ang Lee, he never lets go of this magic, but he enforces it so strongly, wishing the audience to share the magic with him.

In conclusion, Life of Pi is a masterpiece. Just like it shows the jewels of the earth, the film itself is a precious jewel in the art of filmmaking. Demanding of a win on Best Director, Life of Pi is an experience that will sparkle the minds, please the eyes, and touch the hearts, an amazing spectacle to behold that can only be truly fulfilled if viewed in 3D. Ang Lee performs the film with great lyricism, the talent of an artist and a poet combined. What it comes down to is that Life of Pi is the most aesthetically pleasing treatment of life itself, stylish, decorative, elegant and exquisite, and it allows the audience to give off their own beliefs about life and the journey life can bring to man. But I know what I believe. I believe I have seen a miracle on the big screen.



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