Reel Reviews
Movie: “Life of Pi 3D” A Stunning Visual Experience
January 25, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It is an unwritten rule that among new acquaintances there are certain topics you should steer clear of discussing including, money, politics and religion. “Life of Pi” takes on one of those topics, religion or, more specifically, faith, with great respect while allowing the audience to navigate its own feelings on the subject in relation to what is happening as the story unfolds.

Based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Yann Martel, “Life of Pi” tells the remarkable survival story of a young man named Pi Patel (played by Suraj Sharma and, as an adult, Irrfan Khan). We meet adult Pi as he promises to tell his new acquaintance, a writer (Rafe Spall), a story to help him launch a career, but also is given the task of trying to prove to him that there is a God, in some way, shape or form.

Growing up in India, the youngest son of a family of zookeepers, Pi is in constant search of a faith that he can believe in, trying out all of the ones he can find. When his family decides to move from India to Canada for the chance at a safer and better life they sell the zoo and decide to take only a few of their animals on the journey via a freighter ship. It is during their crossing that the ship is caught up in a terrible storm and sinks, leaving Pi as the sole human survivor on board a lifeboat with a hyena, zebra, orangutan and a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. The animals pick each other off one by one until only Pi and Richard Parker remain, the two forming a shaky ‘partnership’ in order to survive.

Nominated for nine academy awards, including Best Picture and Best Director for Ang Lee, “Life of Pi” is a fascinating and magical look at what people will do when faced with impossible odds in order to survive. The story is imaginative and properly pulls the audience in while being to hold your attention the entire duration. The overarching theme of faith is handled well and never feels like it is being forced upon you; the fact that the ending allows the audience to choose which version of Pi’s story they prefer was a great way to help them figure out if they are more inclined to accept the gritty, reality based version or the more fantastical and colorful version, perhaps showing them how they normally view the world and situations. The actors were all well cast with special mention going to the young Pi, Suraj Sharma, who is completely competent in his first movie role.   

The majority of talk that has surrounded the film has centered on the CGI, especially of the Bengal Tiger Richard Parker, as it should because the CGI is incredibly well done. Several of the scenes are just breathtakingly beautiful. Although I usually find 3D as nothing more than a way to charge $15 for a movie ticket, the 3D did add to the beauty of the scenes in this case, but it also seemed to be used more subtly throughout the duration of the film. “Life of Pi” is a must see on the big screen.

“Life of Pi” runs 127 minutes and is rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril. It is in theaters now.