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Life of Pi

December 7, 2012

Life of Pi movie poster

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Stunning visuals, nifty 3D and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Life of Pi was directed by Ang Lee and features some of the most visually stunning moments of 2012. It is a visual cornucopia filled with eye candy and little substance.

The movie focuses on a teenager named Pi spending 227 days on a lifeboat that he is sharing with a bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The freighter that was transporting his family hit a gnarly storm and the following ten minutes are a mixture of sadness and survival. On the lifeboat Pi is joined by a zebra, hyena, orangutan and tiger. I’d hate to give away what happens next the  because the viewer should be able to appreciate the journey without spoilers. I will say that Richard Parker is never humanized and the partnership between the two is a mixture of fear and eventual companionship.  Together, they see some beautiful sights, a whale almost crushes them and they navigate storms better than Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney.

Pi’s character is explained in a neat little scene where he sneakily gets the students in his new school to stop mocking his name Piscine (named after a beautiful swimming pool). After years of bullying he shortens his name to Pi and writes out the 3.14 as far as he can to firmly establish his nickname at the new school. The quick thinking proves helpful when he has to survive on the open seas while a tiger threatens to eat him at any moment.

Life of Pi Movie tiger

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The book/movie has a way of simplifying the the big issues. I won’t give away the twist but it is not as deep as it thinks. I’m always wary of over simplifying major issues. It seems like the movie thinks it is pushing major ideals on you but it all comes down to surface issues disguised as life changing. I like that it has an open mind but that makes for a great feeling with empty calories.

Life of Pi Bengal Tiger

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Lee was able to avoid the open seas by filming in a massive 1.3 million gallon wave generating tank in Taiwan. Hopefully, he sent a thank you card to Kevin Costner for his trials and tribulations filming on sea for Waterworld. Lee found his leading man among 3,000 other actors. The interesting thing is that Suraj Sharma was only accompanying his brother when the casting agent saw his face and told him to try it out. You can tell the film was crafted by the best in the world and that care was taken to not annoy the nearly nine million people who have read the book. Life of Pi belongs with Avatar and Hugo in regards to using 3D to create beautiful worlds. The world is immersive and the 3D works perfectly while on the water. Take a look at the picture below and imagine it on a huge screen and in 3D. The CGI for the bengal tiger is nothing short of amazing too. In order for the film to work the tiger had to be believable and fluid looking. The creators succeeded because my fiancee and I sat in the theater in amazement and also missing our cat whom looks like a miniature version of Richard Parker.

Life of Pi boat

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Life of Pi is full of hope, wonder and visual splendor. However, the final message feels too easy. Comment below. I’d love to talk about the film.

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