“Life of Pi” Movie Review

Life of Pie Movie Review

By M. Vargas

The life of why? Why don’t we ever see any Tiger shit? Seriously, 227 days adrift and that lifeboat must have been a mess; I know for a fact tigers are not boat broken.

Ang Lee directs the Life of Pi. He is the same director that brought us The Hulk, Donnie Darko, and my favorite sex position, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Life of Pi is the highly heralded one hundred and twenty million dollar undertaking of the acclaimed eponymous novel written by Yann Martel, about the tragic yet spiritual journey of an Indian fellow named Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel, that will “make you believe in God.” One hundred and twenty millions dollars well spent.

The film begins in present day Canada where a local author seeks out an Indian immigrant, “Pi” Patel, on the scoop that he has a great story to tell for a novel. What emerges is a story reminiscent of Forrest Gump (1994) but narrated by a scientifically gifted Hindu/Christian/Muslim in lieu of not going full Gump, Tom Hanks. It is a story that thrust an adolescent boy into a hapless spiritual journey that tests every aspect of his faith.
Now I know what you must me thinking, “It’s one of THOSE movies.” To which I reply no and yes. This isn’t the kind of film that is similar to looking through your front door peephole and seeing a pair of young lads thumping a stack of little black bibles and remaining silent in hopes that they would just turn around and walk away. No, this film is not Puff Daddy forcing you to make uniformed decisions to believe or die. Now I am no fan of having anything forced on me and I didn’t exit the cinema in disgust. In fact I enjoyed the harmony of differing ideologies coexisting in a young Indian boy in the way only seen in the rear bumpers of hippy-infested station wagons. It is a well told story that makes you think as well as entertains.

The CGI was amazing. I know for certain they used four different actual tigers in the film but there were only two mere but brief instances where I could tell it was a CGI Bengal tiger. The tiger was beautifully detailed, chock full of emotions and expressions, that if the CGI team used that same Twinkie and mountain dew fueled magic on Kim Kardashian, she would become an accomplished actress and someone with actual talent. The 127 minutes of movie didn’t feel like it dragged on at all, the stunning imagery helped with that. Most films in the shipwreck survival genre tend to drag through what seems like hours of no dialog and a seemingly endless amount of mundane events like in Cast Away (2000). Thanks to the wonderful camera work and editing, you don’t feel like a fly on the wall witnessing things like Tom Hanks trying to eat crab guts. One feels immersed in the glow of the visual orgasm so that even mundane events are very bearable. The tasteful CGI makes it a real pleasure to endure, even in 3D.

This film falls into my favorite category of films; Films that makes you think. There is a great emphasis on faith in the beginning of the film that helps grease the wheels of your skepticism, assuaging your natural proclivity to challenge the incredible story being told. And an incredible story it is. Much like the character of Pi, who simultaneously believes in three different, and at times conflicting faiths, the film does not corner you into deciding what to believe is true. It is ultimately up to the viewer on what to believe, much like Pi harmoniously weaving together science and spirituality to cater to his personal needs. The film allows doubt to exist. Pi being the only survivor and with no evidence to support his story, says it best in his dialog with the writer.

He says, “Faith is a house with many rooms.” The writer asks, “But no room for doubt?” To which Pi responds, “Oh plenty, on every floor. Doubt is useful; it keeps faith a living thing. After all, you cannot know the strength of your faith until it is tested.”

No this film was not funded by Mitt Romney. But it is dialog like that, that makes one think. Whether one believes in giant floating spaghetti monsters or seeing tiger shit to reassure you of the biological accuracy of the film. If doubt exists then it is there to test us. What greater test of character is there than to have all of one’s belief central to one’s core challenged? What if I doubted that you would like this review after you finished reading it? Rhetorical question… Bottom line, if you like films that make you think as you walk out of the theater and have deep philosophical conversations with your friends at 24-hour diners, I recommend this one. If not, then you can always go see Red Dawn.

The Verdict…

4.5 out of 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *