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Ang Lee directs Life of Pi, a story concerning an Indian boy named Pi, a zookeeper's son, who finds himself in the company of a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a Bengal tiger after a shipwreck sets them adrift in the Pacific Ocean. The central relationship in the film is between Pi and the 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Themes of faith, love, and loss are explored.
Much of the surrounding hype related to the release of this movie was about whether or not the digital effects that make up the majority of it would be good enough to make it a contender for one of the best movies of the season. Adapting it from the book, many people are saying that it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to invoke the same mood and theme of the novel the movie is based on by just relying on cinematographic tricks. The consensus seems to be that Ang Lee's directing style evokes the same patience and progress the book tries to relay, which raises the bar high enough in the movie to have some reviewers saying it's an oscar contender. As USA Today says, "It was supposed to be the "unfilmable" book. But the Oscar-winning director brought the story to life in a labor of love."
We gathered some of those very reviews right here for you, but be sure to leave your own reviews in the comments below as soon as you get a chance to see it!
Score: 5 out of 5 Stars
Exactly what happens to Pi on his misadventure, and how it affects him, may make for lively discussion around the turkey this holiday season. But there should be no argument that Lee has made one of the year's most impressive films.
Score: 9.1 out of 10
Life of Pi may not ultimately be as profound or insightful about spirituality as it believes, but as a survival tale, an allegory, and a visual spectacle it’s magnificent. It’s a poetic and powerful work of art that’s often as humorous as it is heartfelt. For a movie so utterly dependent on CGI, the most amazing thing about the film is how human and accessible it is. Life of Pi is, without a doubt, one of the must-see movies of the year.
Score: Not Given
Lee is a master storyteller, as proved by his long and varied resume that includes the kung-fu spectacle "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and the emotional "Brokeback Mountain." With "Life of Pi," Lee tells a story about the power of storytelling — and how those stories don’t just illuminate a life, they can sometimes save one.
Score: 4 out of 5 Stars
Simply put, Life of Pi is glorious. A marvel that takes 3D to new heights with its crisp rendering of dreamlike landscapes and its fierce yet fascinating feline co-star, all while delivering a poignant and inspiring story of human endurance. I very rarely insist moviegoers seek out 3D screenings, but for this film if you see it in 2D you will be only seeing half of it.
Working from a fluid script by David Magee (Finding Neverland), Lee frames the film with the adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) telling his story. Khan (Slumdog Millionaire), (The Namesake) is a supremely gifted actor who uses his expressive eyes to suggest a haunting and brutal alternative to what we are seeing. His presence is crucial in this PG-rated film that shields a family audience from the full extent of Pi's torment. And yet Lee, with the indispensable help of cinematographer Claudio Miranda, invades the mind through eyes that are dazzled.
Score: Not Given
While we witness much on screen, the film rests on what Pi is feeling — his doubts, his fears, his faith. That we feel so keenly what Pi feels is a credit to Sharma in his first, and hopefully not his last time on screen, his eyes as endless as that night sky. The emotional pitch of this journey comes in the stream-of-consciousness conversations he conducts with Richard Parker and with God. For as much as Pi is searching for land, he is searching for something to believe in. In that shipwrecked boy's struggle for answers, Lee has given us a masterpiece.
Thought It Was Okay
Score: 85% Fresh
A 3D adaptation of a supposedly "unfilmable" book, Ang Lee's Life of Pi achieves the near impossible -- it's an astonishing technical achievement that's also emotionally rewarding.
Score: 4 out of 5
Life of Pi is one of the most memorable films of the year and also one of the most deeply meaningful adventures you’ll see. Usually it’s sink or swim, but Ang Lee boldly manages to keep this film afloat, crafting an amazingly visual experience that only occasionally seems to tread water.
I thought, Gee, the director has worked so hard on this, and so meticulously. What craftsmanship! But that's not the same thing as being swept away.
Martel's bigger theme is about the narratives we all tell to keep ourselves afloat — whoppers and prayers, diversions and dreams. Lee's bigger theme isn't God or survival, but the awesome adventure of making the imaginary visible, the adventure of making movies
Score: 3 Stars
Lee brings serious craftsmanship and dramatic clarity to "Life of Pi," along with a near-constant deployment of 21st-century digital wow! This is why the film works, and why audiences, I suspect, will devour it the way they devoured Martel's prose, much as a starving hyena tears into an unfortunate zebra, to name one grisly yet discreet depiction in "Life of Pi" — discreet enough to retain a PG rating.
Leaves a Bit Desired
Score: 3.5 out of 4 stars
It is only in the story's expository framing device that the overall flow is marred. Interviews between an adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) and a struggling writer ,Rafe Spall, come off plodding in comparison to the sumptuous adventure on the high seas. These passages work better as a literary device than a cinematic one.
Otherwise, Lee takes the best from Martell's novel and blends religion and zoology in artful ways. As mighty waves crash, and even when the sea is nearly becalmed, Life of Pi is a spectacular high-seas epic that employs technology brilliantly and underscores the power of a vividly told story.