Movie Review: Life of Pi

Title: Life of Pi
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gerard Depardieu, Rafe Spall
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Coming of Age
Running Time: 127 minutes
Accolades: Oscars for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Original Score; Golden Globes for Best Original Score
Purchase Life of Pi: Paperback | DVD | Blu-ray

Plot
Based on Yann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi tells a story of a heroic adventure striving for survival.

He Said
Having not read the novel and only having seen the ambiguous trailer, I had no idea what Life of Pi would be about. Cut to an hour later into the movie? I still had no clue! The plot felt long-winded and disengaging. I didn’t understand what the “point” of the movie was (and still don’t get it). Cinematically it was stunning with gorgeous shots of landscapes and animals, but it did not provide captivating 3-D effects as it promised. To this day, 2009’s Avatar remains the only movie to deliver an impressive 3-D experience worthy of the higher ticket price. Life of Pi left me feeling cold and simply… bored.

She Said
Having read the book and being a fan of Ang Lee, I came into the theater with my 3D glasses and great expectations. I expected a cinematographic feast and a powerful storytelling. The introduction certainly delivered with its beautiful images of India. But the only other impression I got was fear, witnessing the violent images of a tiger attacking a skinny teenager. The motion picture fell short of the adventurous journey, almost fantastical and biblical, as described by Martel.

We Say
Ineffective and forgettable. Read the book and let your imagination soar instead.

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12 comments

  1. Life of Pi promises to tell a story that would make you believe in God. Did it?

    When I read the book, I indeed had faith in a higher being. But the movie? I only sensed chaos. What about you; did you believe? For those who read the book and watched the movie, how do the two compare?

    If I were to claim that the message of Life of Pi is that humans are evil, would you agree? Why would I make such a bold claim? What evidence would suggest this?

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    1. Funny – I saw this movie with my family on Christmas Day, and both Daniel and my parents loved it!

      I enjoyed both book and movie (although I am generally biased since I always enjoys books more). To me, this book/movie highlights the response of the human mind to the will to survive. It’s about finding a drive to keep going – whether it’s fear of a tiger, being tied to the life of the tiger/being the tiger, or imagining up a boat full of animals in order to make the circumstance bearable – or allegorically, believing in God, magic, fate, or predetermination. Neither film nor movie made me believe in God, because that’s not how my mind works. I do love the book though, as it’s a powerful testament of the will to find meaning.

      (That’s why I find Life of Pi infinitely superior to Lord of the Flies – same concept of survival/human condition, but the latter lacks all of the meaning. Plus, the imagery was kind of gross. :P)

      And no, I don’t believe humans are inherently evil(or inherently good, for that matter)… just as I don’t believe an island of carnivorous plants is inherently evil. :)

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      1. The reason why I posed the last question was because my sister made that claim to me. I asked her to explain and she said this: animals would be locked and could never escape the boat. Even precious house pets such as dogs did not survive the Titanic crash. There is just no way a tiger or hyena could have survived. And in that case, the story about cannibalism is true?

        I took her explanation into consideration and resolved to believe that no animals were on that boat. But, I also refused to think the story that would make you believe in God is about cannibalism. So I believed in the alternative – Pi created Richard Parker to give him a reason to survive. But I don’t believe this is the best illustration of men finding meanings and the will to live. For that, I turn to Elie Wiesel’s “Night”.

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    2. I’m not atheist, but not religious. I don’t necessarily believe in a higher being/God, but it is nice to think there is an afterlife and that there will be retribution from the “heavens”. There are many unexplainable events in this world and faith/religion/spirituality can definitely help some people get through difficult times. Therefore I think it is good in that aspect to believe that we are not alone and that there’s someone looking out for us… to sometimes provide “miracles”. It makes life less bleak and insignificant.

      I wouldn’t necessarily say “humans are evil”. I would say that people are born with animalistic nature/characteristics which are suppressed/dominated by values and morals instilled upon us by society/others.

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      1. Okay, this is awkward… Didn’t know you believe in the afterlife. :P Did I tell you I once wished there really was reincarnation when I saw a cute boy shortly after my brother passed away?

        Agree with your last/second paragraph.

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      2. I don’t necessarily “believe” in it… I just think it is “nice to think” there is one… that there’s something “beyond” one’s life ending. :)

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  2. I don’t think this story is about finding the will to live through a shipwreck, per se. It’s about the will to find meaning.

    The magic in the story is not about Pi surviving a shipwreck, it’s about how we choose to interpret which story is true. Like you, I don’t believe in orangutans floating towards lifeboats on bananas – and like you, I don’t like the idea of cannibalism or people killing one another. Your choices are to believe in the unbelievable (aka God/religion), believe the practical, or believe whatever in between you choose (like yourself). My point is that in real life, your drive comes from that same belief system. The beauty of religion/spirituality is that to create meaning in life, you can choose which elements you want to believe. You can be Hindu, Christian, Muslim, (or all three, like Pi), atheist, a scientist, and ultimately, it doesn’t matter.

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