Life of Pi – 3.5/5 Movie Reviews by Ry!

Life of Pi – 3.5/5 – Thematic, well versed, deeply philosophical; these are just some of the words that can describe what a movie like this entails.  Many things can be brought to the movie screen, but when a movie is deeply involved with its theme as well as a story that embraces strong visuals, you get a lot of drawbacks that involve setup and acting.  Many of those drawbacks are relevant throughout this film, but aren’t obvious are blatant enough to deter from the grandeur that is, Life of Pi.  This may not be a film for many movie goers, but for the ones that are like to look for a different taste and something surreal, I would say you are in for a treat with this one.

Here, we follow a magical journey that involves the life of Pi Patel, the precarious son of a zoo keeper.  Dwellers in Pondicherry, India, his family decides to move to Canada.  While hitching a ride on a huge freighter, they become involved in a shipwreck.  Lost and alone at sea, Pi finds himself adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.  What follows is Pi finding hope, strength and a belief into the unknown, into the powers above.  When it comes to this movie, it is very much a thematic movie (as mentioned in the beginning).  In mentioning this again, the acting is left to the background for most the film.  With the acting being mostly just setup and prop-ish for the story, the only focus of a main actor is the one that involves Pi and his journey.  There are many people acting in the ‘Pi’ role (from a young boy to an adult man describing the journey) but the main chunk of the acting is left to the teenage Pi’s arch, played by Indian actor Suraj Sharma.  He does a marvelous job in this role, as most of it involves being stranded on a boat in the Pacific with a tiger.  He invokes a personal struggle with faith, as well as shows a person coming of age.  Learning in finding faith and becoming a man adds to the layers of the Pi character as well as the invoking of the themes surrounding his journey.  One thing that helps add depth to these two strong characteristics (outside the weak back=story), is the interaction Pi has with a Bengal tiger, by the name of Richard Parker.  This tiger helps invoke the fear Pi has about life.  This helps to build his character, while also adding purpose to surviving this journey in the Pacific.  Along with the strong character built in Pi, you also see the evolving compassion and human characters involved with the tiger.  The director helps drive a strong force within the Tiger, Richard Parker, and helps provide an obstacle for Pi to endure and live with.  There is a strong element of creativity to be said to invoke personality in an animal, and Pi also helps add to that personality.   Outside of these two, there isn’t anything else involved with acting.  As mentioned time and time again, everything else is left to be built on the themes, visuals and score.

The direction of this film is left for the audience.  You are giving a visually appealing scenario in this movie, and are guided by the present struggle of each scene.  With all that is created from each scene, you are lead to a defining moment in the climax, which helps show you the direction is very much thematically driven.  The audience has to pick up on the themes, which revolve around spirituality, existence and virtuous conviction to be able to handle what Pi’s journey is.  Much of the setup in the beginning can be boring and sporadic, but once you get to the acts involving the sea, Pi and Richard Parker, you understand why there is a setup.  Once you are involved with the two, you see the strong symbolism invoked through Pi’s journey, which involves his interaction with Richard Parker and the climactic scene.  You see how faith, hope and love can be empowering. These intangibles show a triumph in how Ang Lee directs this film.

As I have been pounding in this review, the visuals are the key element in this movie.  This is where the ultimate ‘make or break’ feeling will come for the audience.  Most of the time, the cinematography strikes gold.  From the ‘on your seat’ sinking of the tanker ship, to all the scenes/situations that happen between Pi and Richard Parker at sea, you are encapsulated with what is happening.  You feel a growth from scene to scene, as everything from the stormy weather to the vivid colors at sea strikes an emotional accord  inside.  An honorable mentioned must be said in how they used/created the Tiger.  They used four Bengal tigers on set, as well as mixed the live tigers with CGI.  You really couldn’t tell the difference, and that is a great strength to this film.  The score also helps adding depth to the movie.  The music strings every emotion (high and low) in each scene, boring and epic.  Without giving anything away, the music helps define what you will feel at the end of this movie, as you are given a choice to believe or not.

Overall, this movie is a strong, spiritually involved movie.  It doesn’t bang you over the head with its themes, but helps build it alongside the journey of Pi and Richard Parker.  The character of Pi is very strong, as you watch him grow from boy to man, and Richard Parker is truly a great reflection of the idea of ‘animals having a soul’.  The setup is a little weak, and some of acting isn’t as strong as the Pi character, but by the end you will feel something, one way or another.  I will recommend this movie for anyone wanting a different kind of movie experience, and anyone who enjoys 3D movies.

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  • Top 10 Films: Coming of Age | Ry Reviews :

    […] limits.  The story is mesmerizing because of the simplicity of the acts.   As you can find in my review, you will see why the raw vigor gives a complexion that anyone who has been tested with their faith […]

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