I hope you are all sitting down while you are reading this as instead of my usual half apologetic disclaimer I am pleased to announce that I have read Life of Pi. This sad little factoid is likely to be the most interesting thing I will write in 2012 purely because it is such a deviation from the norm.
PLOT: After his father decides to relocate to Canada Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) finds himself on board a freighter with the family zoo. Midway through their journey a terrible storm sinks the ship leaving Pi ship-wreaked on a lifeboat with Richard Parker, the Patel family’s tiger. Pi must learn to survive at sea and avoid being eaten by a sea sick tiger. END PLOT
I’ve never been the strongest blogger and my plot descriptions are usually the weakest parts of my reviews. The plot description of Life of Pi is not the exception to the rule as it doesn’t do the film any justice.
Granted the film is a story of a sixteen year old boy trying to survive at sea with a hungry tiger but despite its simple premise Life of Pi manages to be one of the year’s most heart warming and emotionally traumatising films of the year.
Both Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan are excellent as the young and older Pi. Sharma’s performance is all the more notable as in the majority of his scenes he was acting alone against a green screen backdrop.
The supporting cast of Tabu and Rafe Spall are solid in their roles as characters which are never meant to stray from the background.
Much has been made of the 3D but it is not often that a film lives up to the hype. Life of Pi is a visually stunning film – right from the colourful opening credits to the jellyfish sea there is always something special to look at and no one from the UK will view the Meerkat Island without affection thanks to a ridiculously successful advertising campaign.
The 3D gives the film a greater sense of depth and is again a testament to the efforts that have gone into the special effects in the film. There are no real pop out moments which would normally render the 3D pointless but as the film was so visual it didn’t matter.
The creation of Richard Parker is quite an achievement given that only a few swimming scenes involved a real tiger (IMDB trivia). I think it is reasonable to expect Life of Pi to fare quite well on the technical nominations come awards season.
Life of Pi clocks in at 127minutes and although I didn’t feel the length there were a few moments when I wanted the film to move things along just a smidge quicker.
I read the book on the recommendation of my A Level psychology teacher due to the section of the book which focused on the conditioning of the tiger to respond to the whistle. It took Pi a few attempts to train the tiger in the film but it felt as though this part of the book was brushed over quite hastily in favour of additional visuals such as the whale.
Ang Lee has created a gorgeous film and he has made it look effortless. Whether you opt for 2D or 3D Life of Pi is one film that must be watched in the cinema in order to appreciate it fully. It gets a 8.5/10.