Film Review: ‘Life of Pi’ Offers Little More Than Stunning Visuals

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CHICAGO – Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” is a film that defies much critical thought in that it demands dismissal of such things in order to work. It is a story that needs to be transcendent in the way it transports the viewer through its fantastic tale that promises nothing less than evidence of God. It’s a work that I imagine some people will force themselves to enjoy largely because of the talented people who made it but if you think about it for more than a few seconds, it’s clear that this water-logged film is remarkably shallow. Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

First and foremost, Lee’s film looks great. It merits comparison to Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo” and James Cameron’s “Avatar” in the way it uses 3D technology to further theme and advance storytelling instead of as mere gimmick. However, the visuals can’t compensate for a story that often reeks of self-importance and presents a relatively simple fantasy disguised as a life-changing adventure. I don’t think I’d have as many problems as I do with “Pi” if I felt that Yann Martel and adapter David Magee weren’t so constantly reminding me of the faith-based importance of their tale. The very structure – a writer (Rafe Spall) visits a man named Pi (Irrfan Khan) to learn about how he survived an incredible shipwreck and met God in the process – is weighed down with ego. This is no mere fantasy for which the viewer can take away a lesson that they interpret on their own. It is a story for which its elements are remarkably defined, underlined, and presented as lesson for you to learn. It features such striking imagery and yet it tells so much more than it shows.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “Life of Pi” in our reviews section.

The first act of “Life of Pi” is actually its best as Khan narrates some early anecdotes from Pi’s childhood. He grew up in a zoo and was always fascinated with aspects of various religions, choosing parts of each in which to believe. I loved this idea – that most religions have something worthwhile and that dismissing all others for one can lead to a narrow-minded view of the world. The teenage Pi (Suraj Sharma) travels with his family across the ocean for a move when the ship is involved in a Titanic-level disaster. Pi loses his family and finds himself on a lifeboat with a live tiger. Pi and the tiger have mutual needs and yet Pi knows that he could easily be food for the beast. Living together on the boat and trying to maintain a degree of hope, Pi actually trains the tiger and the two form a symbiotic relationship. The animal gives Pi something to do other than starve to death and Pi helps keep the tiger alive.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “Life of Pi” review.

“Life of Pi” stars Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, and Rafe Spall. It was directed by Ang Lee. It will be released on November 21, 2012.

Life of Pi
Life of Pi
Photo credit: Fox

ghoti227's picture

Didn’t know it was an Ang

Didn’t know it was an Ang Lee film… doesn’t he always make the film look good and that’s about it?? Except for maybe Sense & Sensibility.

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