Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012)

What’s it about? Teenager Pi Patel, a believer in several religions, and his family decide to emigrate from India, taking with them the animals from their zoo. However, when their ship sinks, Pi is cast adrift in a lifeboat, along with a zebra, a hyena, an orang-utan and a very dangerous Bengal tiger, an experience which tests all his faiths. Based on the Booker prize winning novel by Yann Martel.


Is it any good? Let me tell you a story. At the screening I attended I was surprised to find that my fellow patrons included a hyena, a zebra, an orang-utan and a tiger. The hyena behaved badly throughout, laughing at the film and making noise constantly. The zebra was mostly quiet, but whinnyed loudly at appropriate moments. The orang-utan hardly moved, but regarded the action onscreen with something approaching reverence, only turning to balefully regard the hyena at times. The tiger, meanwhile, was transfixed by the absolutely beautiful visuals and astounding CGI, but less taken with the story, yawning widely on occasion, licking its paws clean, and left at the end relatively unmoved by the whole experience. If you want another version of this review, I could tell it, but perhaps you prefer this one?

I don’t trust you. What do others think? You find the above story a bit unbelievable? Well, let me give you a more acceptable version which reflects the general consensus. Few have quibbled with the technical prowess on display here, with uniform praise for the beautiful visuals. In particular, the CGI for the animal scenes is astonishingly good. So lifelike is the tiger that Lee was forced to present digital evidence to the appropriate authorities to prove it wasn’t a real tiger that was mistreated during filming of some scenes. It fully deserves to sweep the technical awards at the Oscars. However, the reception to the spiritual aspects of the story has been variable. As with the book, some find it a wonderful celebration of faith and God, in whatever form he is worshipped. Others find it a rather superficial exploration of religious themes and dismiss it as a rather overrated shaggy dog tale. Naturally, regardless of opinion, ratings of 3.14 out of 5 have been legion. So that’s what other people think. Now, which of the reviews do you prefer?
 

What does the Fonz think? Needed to take on some more spirit in the Pi.
 

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