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Old 11-04-2012, 11:28 AM   #1
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Default Life of Pi - Review Thread



Originally posted at: http://evantvmoviegames.tumblr.com/p...fpimoviereview

After a few under the radar movies, director Ang Lee returns with what might end up being his most successful film in years. No matter what one might take away from Life of Pi, the fact that it has the best 3D effects since Avatar should be one of its biggest selling points. While traveling to Canada with his family, an Indian teenager ends up stranded on a boat with a group of animals after a terrible shipwreck.

People who havenít read the book shouldnít be intimidated by the film. As difficult as it may look like to follow based on its trailer alone, Lee actually does a brilliant job of grounding this dreamlike film in reality right from the start. He does this by first introducing the viewer to our main character, Pi (Suraj Sharma), letting the audience know right away that our protagonist will survive the trip. This shouldnít hinder anyoneís enjoyment of the overall product, as the journey Pi takes is incredibly important to the picture.

The film is in two distinct sections (three if you count the present day interactions) which focus on the leading up to the crash and after the crash. In that time leading up, Lee does a great job of introducing us to this character that we will spend the entire length of the picture with. One thing that doesnít work as well as it should and that is the character of Pi himself. Heís an easy person to root for but he has no flaws, which donít allow for certain parts of him to develop. He does, however, grow incredibly as a person over the course of his journey.

As I eluded to earlier, I could easily see the visual effects having the ability to get a lot of audiences into the theater. Lee establishes depth well in all of the scenes that donít necessarily utilize 3D to its full effect, but when he does, itís magical. The first glimpse of this that audiences will really take notice of is when Pi is reading a comic book. There are many jaw dropping moments throughout the film, and many of them are in large part due to these effects. That might be a good thing or bad thing, depending on where you stand on visuals telling a large part of the story (or the use of 3D in general), but for a film like Life of Pi it works flawlessly.

Lee sets up the story really well, slowly reeling in the audience with Piís life story as the lead up to the big event. Whatís great about this is that the content at the beginning of the film is equally as compelling as Piís journey on the boat, which would seem inconceivable on paper. The technical aspects of Life of Pi are extremely impressive. However, some of those aspects donít quite work as fully as I think they should have. This mainly includes Lee switching up the aspect ratioís in order to change the effect the 3D has. In the end it doesnít really add anything and is just a distraction.

Mychael Dannasís score is beautiful and from the opening credits, where ďPiís LullabyĒ plays, you know youíre in for a treat. He mixes the entire score up nicely, but by the end of the film it still feels like you listened to one movieís soundtrack. Itís difficult to find a good adventure film nowadays. Even harder is finding one that has the ability to make a person question whatís going on in the world around them. Lee could have easily cobbled together this story in a way that wouldnít have been simple to digest, but because David Mageeís script and the structure of the film, it flows incredibly well. While the last 10 or so minutes of Life of Pi begin to stumble, that canít take away how incredibly fun watching this film was. Lee gets the most out of his cast and the visuals alone make for one of the most enjoyable film going experiences of the year. See it in 3D.

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Old 11-04-2012, 12:26 PM   #2
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Great review, dawg. I am a big fan of the book, so I shall be seein' this in 3D in theatres.
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:48 PM   #3
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I'm a huge fan of the book! And visually this movie looked stunning. Can't wait
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Old 11-04-2012, 01:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel View Post
Great review, dawg. I am a big fan of the book, so I shall be seein' this in 3D in theatres.
Thanks. And also, anyone with concerns about how the CGI tiger looks (I was), don't worry, it looks shockingly good.
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Old 11-04-2012, 07:45 PM   #5
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I thought the tiger looked just fine in the trailers. It's everything else that I am worried about.
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Old 11-06-2012, 01:53 AM   #6
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I wanna see this sooo bad!
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Old 11-07-2012, 09:17 PM   #7
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Images looked amazing in the trailer.
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Old 11-08-2012, 01:54 PM   #8
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Can't wait to see this.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:06 AM   #9
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This has my attention too - looks beautiful
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Old 11-26-2012, 12:31 PM   #10
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This is one soundtrack I wouldn't mind buying. Loved a lot of the stuff on it, specifically this piece:

VIDEO-CLick to Watch!:
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Old 12-17-2012, 12:55 AM   #11
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I'm planning on seeing it this week (matinee showing...3-D is expensive).
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Old 12-17-2012, 05:53 AM   #12
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Hah when I went to a 3D Midnight Screening in Culver City on Premiere Day, I wound up being the only person in the theatre lol! I guess the others watched the movie in 2D instead - fools!!! :p

Overall I really enjoyed the movie. Will have to pick up the book now methinks - the same for Cloud Atlas too I suppose.

Thought the visuals were superb. A shame that Pi never got to go back to India and pickup the girl he liked over there, because it looked like he married somebody locally.

8.5/10.
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:32 AM   #13
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Life of Pi(12/14/2012)
Of all the high profile ďawardsĒ movies set for release this year, the one Iíve most dreaded having to see and analyze has been Ang Leeís Life of Pi. Iíve liked pretty much every movie that Ang Lee has ever made and this latest film in his cannon has been said to have a lot of technical merits, but in the back of my head I kept hearing a little voice tell me ďthis is going to be some new age hippie bull****.Ē Iíve felt that way about Yann Martelís novel ever since I read its back cover back in 2001 when it was a super-trendy novel and I felt that way again whenever I heard someone was trying to turn it into a film (and there have been at least three such someones including M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuarůn, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet). The ďunfilmableĒ label had been widely slapped on the book and this seemed to have all the makings of a mess of a film. Secretly I may well have wanted it to be just that so Iíd have an excuse to skip it and never worry about having to turn a review of the film into so be referendum on whether or not I could get behind a work that was as fervently pro-religion as this story was alleged to be. Low and behold, the damn thing ended up being one of the yearís best reviewed and buzzed about films, something that was simply too big to be ignored and I had to weigh in.

As the title would suggest, the film is about a guy named Piscine Molitor Patel, who opts to go by the name ďPiĒ at a young age when other kids began deliberately pronouncing is given name as ďpissing.Ē We first meet Pi while heís an adult living in Montreal (and played by Irfan Khan). Here he meets with an author played by Rafe Spall who has sought out Pi because heís been told that Pi has a story which will make the author believe in God. From here we flashback to Piís childhood (at this stage played by Gautam Belur and then Ayush Tandon) and learn that he grew up in India where his family owned a zoo. As a young boy Pi was highly curious about religion and declared himself a simultaneous believer in Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam, much to the confusion of his parents. Later, when Pi is a teenager (finally played by Suraj Sharma), his family decides to move to Canada and pack all their animals onto a Japanese freighter headed across the Pacific. Along the way the ship hits a massive storm and sinks, and Pi finds himself stranded in a lifeboat in the middle of the Ocean along with the Zooís famous Bengal tiger.

From here, the film turns into a decidedly above-average survival story. We find out how Pi is able to co-exist with the tiger while also developing some fairly believable survival strategies. The CGI used to render this tiger is not quite perfect and there are a couple of questionable shots, but for the most part it fits well into the slightly fantastical tone of all the flashbacks. Beyond that, the film is a genuine visual treat. Iíve always loved Ang Leeís filmmaking, which feels very relaxed compared to the rhythms of Hollywood cinema while always being very accessible and never dipping into the realm of the boring. This film is no exception and you can tell it right from the opening credits, which are leisurely doled out over images of animals from Piís family zoo.

All of this is done in some of the most impressive 3D photography Iíve seen to date. Technologically speaking, thereís nothing new about the 3D technology on display here, but Lee seems to have put a lot more attention into his shot compositions and how theyíll play out in three dimensions than most filmmakers have. Leeís generally mellow style also seems to play into the format, as does the fact that this is a story about a single character isolated on a flat ocean. Iím still definitely a 3D skeptic and believe itís inappropriate 95% of the time, but this is definitely a case from the Hugo file of films that use the format for artful rather than crassly commercial reasons.

From here we must dip into the filmís message and why, in the end I found it a lot more palatable than I expected it to be. To be clear, my anti-religious sentiments run deep, and pretty much the only thing that seems stupider to me than religion is ecumenical religion. Ecumenical religion is the goofy hippie notion that all religions are equally true (even though most of them directly contradict one another). Itís a notion that people seem to accept less out of any actual belief than out of a desire to avoid conflict while still clinging to the notion of a greater power. As the film opens it seems like itís advocating this belief system, but that sort of falls by the wayside after Pi is finally shipwrecked. From here the film seems to be trying to make good on its claim that itís ďtelling a story that will make you believe in godĒ simply by presenting a miraculous tale of survival and then attributing said survival to god, a message that would seem rather flimsy on its face.

However, at the eleventh hour the film introduces a twist which makes the audience re-consider everything theyíve seen thus far, and itís with this twist that the film becomes infinitely more fascinating. When Pi finishes his story (and I will be entering spoiler territory from here on in) he reveals that most of what heís been saying is in fact bull****, a fable he created in order to cope with the pain of what happened as he escaped from the shipwreck and that the tiger was a metaphor for the violent side of Piís personality. Pi willfully chooses to believe the fantastical version of the story rather than the cold reality of the situation and adds ďAnd so it goes with God.Ē The implication here is that religion itself is in fact a willful delusion conjured up by people in order to make sense of everything bad in the world and that, when presented vividly, people will go along with such a story even though it is on its face ridiculous. Where I and the film differ is that the film presents this willful delusion as a positive thing which ultimately helps those who partake in it while I prefer to see the world as it is rather than build my life around a lie. Still, this is a surprisingly honest stance for a film like this to take and itís far removed from the saccharine new age bull**** I was expecting.

And so, inexplicably, this film which Iíve dreaded having to tackle has turned out to be one of the more positive experiences Iíve had seeing a film this year. Truth be told, I should have known better than to assume that Ang Lee would make a film that was as simplistic as the one I had envisioned. Itís not a perfect film. Elements of the prologue seem a bit pointless in retrospect, and as important as the frame story is to the filmís overall message, itís not overly well put together. Instead the film gives us great visuals attached to a though provoking and mostly engaging story. If nothing else itís very interesting to see a all the tools of a summer blockbuster being used in order to make a film that isnít about fighting, fighting, and more fighting. Itís not really a film made for people with my tastes and worldview, at all, but for what it is I can respect it. If anything the fact that Lee found a way to bring people like myself on beard speaks very highly of the film.
***1/2 out of Four
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Old 12-22-2012, 10:45 AM   #14
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Good review Drac. I enjoyed the movie a lot myself
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:29 PM   #15
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A fantastic movie that I will expand upon a bit later. Must-see viewing for any lover of cinema, and in 3D too. Finally somebody uses it to full advantage.

8.5/10
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Old 01-26-2013, 05:32 PM   #16
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Never got to see this in 3-d, quite glad as that really messes with my already dodgy eyes.

I was enjoying the film and was along for the ride taking all the out there experiences with a pinch of salt. It was only near the end that I came too fully appreciate the file once Pi let's out a startling secret.

Well worth the watch.

8/10
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Old 03-23-2013, 09:54 AM   #17
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If you want a visual feast, watch Life of Pi. If you want an interesting and unique story, watch Life of Pi. If you are looking for deeper themes being explored, you may also watch Life of Pi. Or maybe you aren't looking for anything more specific than a great movie. Well, Life of Pi is waiting for you.

Life of Pi is a story about a boy on a lifeboat with a tiger, but everyone knows that already. Its based on the book by Yann Martel which I regret to admit I have not read despite the fact that he is a local author. Shame on me. However, I am a movie fan first, so I decided to experience this story through film and Ang Lee did not let me down. The idea is fascinating, but watching it play out is even more fascinating. And lets admit it; animals are awesome. Its fun watching exotic animals on film, and seeing them together on a lifeboat is pretty cool.

The visuals in this film are simply amazing. The CGI tiger does a very good job of breaching the uncanny valley, which I only noticed once or twice (once for sure with the tiger's introduction). But also the way that Lee presents the oceanic world around the lifeboat is stunning. It seems to be some form of hyper-reality which just sinks into your eyes to your visual cortex.

The film also contains a strong theme in the form of spiritual belief. Pi is a boy searching for God and comes to accept his beliefs through this ordeal. The depth of this theme is really felt at the end when we hear a new revelation which puts everything in the film to question and provides some doubt about what the story is actually telling us. The brilliance of this is that the audience is allowed to bring our own feelings into the interpretation of the story. Great movie.
9/10
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:38 PM   #18
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Honestly, And Lee's Life of Pi should have walked off with an Oscar. For a longest time have not sen a film with such emotion, no violence. A definite yes, and feel-good film.
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Old 04-15-2013, 03:16 AM   #19
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I'd give it an 8 because it is a little boring but it has a very good story.



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