If one word was used to sum up Life of Pi it would be beautiful. Yann Martel’s novel had the reputation for being unfilmable, but in the hands of a master craftsman such as Ang Lee, not only does it translates well to the big screen, but becomes a work of art in the process.
The opening shots give an indication of the vibrant journey that the audience is about to witness, with greens, reds and brown popping out of the screen, with 3D being used to maximise the visual splendour. In fact this is one of the few movies that should be watched in 3D just to immerse oneself in the experience unfolding before them.
Ang Lee’s genius aside, the Life of Pi would not have worked if the character of Pi himself was not engaging. And in a role where the bulk of the movie would rest solely on his shoulders, Suraj Sharma is more than up to the physical and emotional demands. It’s hard to believe that this young man has no prior acting experience, as he handles the task with an air of aplomb that one would expect from a more experienced thespian.
The movie is a roller-coaster ride of emotions, where the audience are laughing one minute, and almost on the verge of tears the next. One of the characters mentions that this is “a story that would make you believe in God”, and whether it does or not, there are sequences on screen that caused the audience gasp in wonder at the beauty and at spiritual events unfolding before them. Ang Lee is not afraid to give the audience time to soak in the spectacle, to think upon the nature of the universe, to revel on the human spirit and the drive to survive, and maybe even the nature of spirituality itself.
The CGI in the movie blends seamlessly with the live action, and it’s easy to forget that the other main protagonist, “Richard Parker the Bengal Tiger, is a construct of 1’s and 0’s, so well is he animated. It is a testament to the animators that they created a character that managed to be menacing and yet sympathetic at the same time. A definite complement to the story, the technical magic used will make you believe a fish can fly.
Lastly, through all aspects of the film, subtly weaving its way around the theater is the beautiful score by Mychael Danna. For movie that delves into spirituality, it is appropriate that the score has an ethereal quality, not forceful, but always there, enhancing the drama on screen, adding another dimension to the journey.
At the end of the day, I urge you to go and watch Life of Pi. It was a great way to start 2013, and I can assure you that you will not regret it. I give Life of Pi a 9 out of 10.