Friday, December 14, 2012
REVIEW: Life of Pi 3D
Life of Pi
Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan
November 21, 2012
20th Century Fox
2 hours 7 minutes
'Life of Pi' is not the typical 3D movie one would expect to see. It dives into themes of spirituality and religion more than one would expect from watching the trailers. This is a film from acclaimed director Ang Lee, best known for 'Brokeback Mountain' and 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.' Lee took on the challenge of making this movie because, like 'Cloud Atlas,' the book that this film is based on was considered to be "unfilmable," meaning it was believed to be impossible to make this movie. Sure enough, Lee believed in this movie and got it made; shooting it in 3D as well, as he felt that was the only way to see this movie. It's easy to say that the 3D is great, which it is. The story and performance by newcomer Suraj Sharma and a CGI tiger, however, pop out more than the flying fish in a certain 3D sequence. 'Life of Pi' is a compelling, heart-pounding, and inspiring adventure story that makes you think about religion and life in all of its best forms.
Pi in the present is a man with a story to tell. It just so happens that a writer wants to hear his story, so Pi tells him the story of "finding god." The story begins when he is a young boy and trying to discover all kinds of religions, along with the animals in his family's zoo. When he's a teenager, his family decides to move out of India to try to start a new life and make some money, which means selling the zoo animals as well. Pi unwillingly goes with his family, and his fascination with sea storms saves his life as the boat he and his family travel on sinks, and he is the only survivor. Well, he's the only human survivor. A big tiger named Richard Parker stowed away on this little boat that Pi is riding on, and the rest of the story shows the bond of the characters and the journey Pi goes on to attempt to survive this terrible event.
There are only two actors to talk about when talking about acting performances, and they both play the same character. Suraj Sharma and Irrfan Khan play the younger and older versions of Pi respectively. Khan has been in some familiar roles in the past, most notably in 'The Amazing Spider-Man.' He does deliver a fine performance, but it's Sharma that delivers on the emotional impact of the film. This character goes through a lot of terrible things throughout the story, and he really breaks down at one point in the movie, so much so that my jaw was on the floor. He's not the greatest actor in the world, but it definitely is a brilliant first performance, almost comparable to the debut of Quvenzhané Wallis from 'Beasts of the Southern Wild.' There isn't a bad performance in this movie, but most of them, except for the two men playing Pi, are pretty small roles.
The visuals in this movie are nothing short of spectacular. The animals, including the tiger named Richard Parker, look nearly as real as a photo of a tiger, which is kind of hard to do these days. The other animals and the shipwreck scene looked outstanding, especially in 3D, and should be awarded for that. The 3D is used in such a way where the viewer feels like they're on this journey with Pi and Richard Parker, whether it's a good moment or a bad moment. My one complaint about the 3D is how the aspect ratio of the film was changed in one scene so the flying fish could pip out of the frame and look more like a 3D movie than it would with the bigger ratio. It reminded me of what films like 'Wrath of the Titans' and 'G-Force' did with their 3D, in which moments had things just pop out of the frame into the blackness of the wide screen ratio. It was a minor nitpick, but it did work to that scene's advantage. If there is one way to see this movie, it is in 3D. Seeing it in 2D won't serve the film justice, and that's something I've said a lot. Even Ang Lee said that this is a film that he envisioned in 3D, so do yourself a favor and see this movie in the third dimension if you're able to.
'Life of Pi' might not be a movie for everyone, but it is in a way an achievement of such. This "unfilmable" story is heart-pounding, suspenseful, and powerful throughout. The 3D helps the experience a lot, and the acting is great from newcomer Suraj Sharma. The religious aspect of the film isn't devoted to any specific religion, but it does hit any religious person right where it needs to be hit. The climax and ending of the film were especially powerful because it basically left it open for the viewer to decide what happens next, which I really admired. This is an emotional roller-coaster for families and kids older than 9 due to some intense moments. 'Life of Pi' is as eye-popping and gorgeous as it is powerful and engulfing. See this movie in a theater if possible.
PREVIEWS YOU MAY SEE:
Now You See Me
Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Oz: The Great and the Powerful
The Smurfs 2