Sunday, March 31, 2013

Movie Review: “Life of Pi”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Suraj Sharma plays and excellent role as the young Pi Patel, stranded on the ocean and confronted with impossible situations while having to make daily decisions of life and death. He brought Pi to life and was vividly engaging on the screen. Irrfan Khan is an actor I’m more familiar with, and has always delivered quality performances. He has not changed that trend as adult Pi Patel, looking back while narrating the story of his adventure. Though not nearly as much screen time as Sharma, or having to display such a broad range, Khan still delivers a memorable performance that compliments Sharma.

The Plot: 
   Piscine Molitor Patel (Pi), named so after a swimming pool in France, has a colorful childhood wrought with the constant struggle to free himself form ridicule due to his name. He also has the benefit of growing up around animals as his father owns a zoo. Such a unique experience is complimented by his search for God, as he decides at fourteen to practice Christianity and Islam along with his Hindu beliefs.

   All this changes when his family decides to sell the zoo and the animals and move to Canada. Traveling by Japanese freighter, the ship is beseeched by a powerful storm that sinks it, killing Pi’s family, and stranding him on a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangoutang, a hyena...and a Tiger named Richard Parker. The hyena makes short work of the zebra and orangoutang, but is no match for Parker. Things get increasingly interesting from there as Pi must find a way to coexist with a Bengal Tiger.

   For 227 days, Pi must survive the tiger, the ocean, wrought with storms. be on constant vigil for dangerous sea life...and figure out how to keep from starving and dying of thirst. A huge part of this strategy depends on Richard Parker and Pi’s uneasy relationship with him that takes this film into fantastic areas.

The Verdict: 
   This film is visually stunning and I wish I had the opportunity to have seen it in 3D. Even without that, it is filled with awesome scenery and vibrant colors that are so alive that it is simply moving. The CGI is excellent and while abundant, it’s not overbearing to the point of annoyance. In fact, it often advances the story as the trials of Pi are marked in outlandish adventure.

   Despite being dazzled by the incredible special effects, the film is still story driven, with the characters firmly behind the wheel. The performances are very strong and the story is profound, filled with deeper meanings and evoking life contemplations. The pace of the film is such that it always seemed as if I were constantly in the mode of ‘“waiting for the other shoe to drop”...which I found hilarious as that happened fairly early in the film, with that feeling never going away.

   The perspective of the film is where it really breathes life into the adventure. I’m always intrigued about how a film will keep me captivated when I already know the main character will live...since he is the one telling the story of his own past. It’s not that he survives, but under what circumstances that survival took place. After all of that though, the whole story is brought into question as the characters are presented as metaphors, if you are willing to choose to do so.

   This film was better than I expected it to be, although I had heard accolades about it before viewing. It was no surprise that the effects were fantastic but coupled with profound characters and a solid story, had me dipping 4 cinnamon sticks, out of 5, in my cup of tea.

Rating: 4/5

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