Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Matinee: Life of Pi (2012)

 Any book lover knows that a story translated from the page to the silver screen is a slippery slope.  Especially if the book is universally revered, like Life of Pi.  And what director in his right mind would attempt to make one that dedicated 75% of the story to a boy and a Bengal tiger on a life raft???

Turns out, the project passed through the hands of many directors over the years until it landed in the lap of Ang Lee, a guy known to take a chance or two.  Casting an all-international lineup, and making heavy use of visual effects, I think most lovers of this book figured it would be an epic winner or an epic failure.

For those who are not familiar with the plot, I'll give you the two-cent tour.  Piscine Patel was born of an upper middle-class family in India who made their living by owning and operating a zoo.  Although his family was Hindu, at 14 Pi began to explore Christianity and Islam as well.  When the political environment began to get dicey in India, the family decided to take their animals and cross the Atlantic to Canada in a Japanese freighter.  Except there is a storm, the boat goes down, and Pi finds himself in a life raft with a hyena, an injured zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.  As you can imagine, after a short span of time, only the tiger and the boy are left, and they must learn to co-exist in order to survive.    

    











The actors are fairly unrecognizable.  Irrfan Khan, the adult Pi, actually has a respectable resume, with such movies as "The Namesake", "Slumdog Millionaire" and "The Amazing Spider-Man" under his belt.  But the bulk of the movie sits on the shoulders of a 19-year-old actor named Suraj Sharma, who makes his debut here.  And he does a wonderful job.  

The visual effects were stunning.  I'm not completely sure how much of the filming was real tiger, meercat, hyena, zebra and orangutan, and how much was computer imagery, but the fact that I can't tell is a real testament to the work of the team.  As an animal lover myself, I was wooed completely.  I wanted to hold Richard Parker's big cat head in my lap too.

The film did the book proud.  I can't think of one departure from the original story, and for this reason I am satisfied.  The story DOES move slow, but if you have read the book, you know this.  Pi is on the ocean for a very long time with Richard Parker.  Will it win any awards at the big dance this year?  I doubt it.  But it's imagery will be forever imprinted on my mind.

4 out of 5 stars (Per Sandy)

3.5 out of 5 stars (Per Sandy's husband, who has not read the book)  



18 comments:

Harvee Lau said...

I haven't read the book but was impressed by the movie and scared witless by the tiger in 3D (not a movie for little kids, I don't think). Impressive. I hope it win some Oscar awards.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I really need to re-read. I can't remember much of anything!!!

bermudaonion said...

I read the book but didn't love the ending. I remember thinking "What the heck just happened?" I have a feeling the movie isn't for me if it follows the book closely.

annieb said...

I saw the movie yesterday and totally loved it, as did the group I went with. Some in my group had read the book, but I had not. I have it on hold at the library. I usually like anything Ang Lee has a part in, but this was an exceptional movie going experience overall. I rarely see movies in 3D, but made an exception with this one and was very happy I did.

Jenny said...

Did you love the book though? I haven't posted my review yet, but I didn't love it so I wonder if I should stay away from the movie?

Meg @ write meg! said...

The visual effects in this one look stunning! When I heard it was being made into a movie, I thought that would be the push I needed to finally read the book . . . but alas. Think I'll give it a go, then rent it on DVD.

Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

I've been planning to see this one in the theater, but haven't yet read the book. I've heard great things about it in 3D, so I might just go see it now and then read the book later. I know, I know, backwards approach!

Zibilee said...

This is one I will definitely see, and probably this weekend. I remember the book being stunning, and from what you have said, it sounds like the movie was also. Very nice review. I can't wait to experience it!!

Jackie Bailey said...

I've seen the trailers for this and it looks stunning. I loved the book and so look forward to watching this once it is out on DVD. Glad to hear that you loved it, but it is good to know that my husband (who hasn't read the book) may find it too slow.

Julie P. said...

I'm totally curious about this one. I never dreamed it would convert into a movie!

Tasha B. said...

My hairdresser saw this and she said it was weird. She seemed like she was on the fence about it. I haven't read the book, so I'll probably pass on this one.

Beth F said...

I know this is a big screen movie, but I think we'll wait for the DVD. I know, I know.

Charlie said...

I haven't read the book so had no idea what the movie was until the title popped up on the trailer. It seems an epic, I'm guessing the movie is quite long. Good to hear it stays faithful to the book!

Ti said...

You couldn't tell how much was CGI? It must have been really good then. I'd like to see it.

Jenners said...

I thought it was visually stunning -- I was just dazzled by the imagery. I thought it was almost an unfilmable book but Ang Lee captured it perfectly. Yet for all that, I found myself not feeling emotionally connected to the story … and since I knew the "twist," I was prepared for the end. I think the end could have easily gotten lost .. it felt rushed, which might have accounted for your husband's lower grade.

Literary Feline said...

I admit I just want to see the tiger on the big screen.

stacybuckeye said...

I've read the book but haven't seen the movie yet. I'm so glad that it stayed true to the book, that's rare!

Alyce said...

I loved the book, but don't know if I'll watch the movie. I probably will at some point, but the more I see movie reviews the more I want to re-read the book. The first time I read it - the ending was so... it wowed me and made me sad at the same time.