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Life of Pi

2012 | 127 min | PG | 1.85:1

Life of Pi


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal

Coming of age23%


Theatrical release date

 21 November, 2012
 20 December, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native, 127 minutes)

Box office




Overview Preview Cast & crew Screenshots User reviews News Forum

Life of Pi


Screenshots from Life of Pi 3D Blu-ray

Life of Pi Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, November 21, 2012

It’s difficult to label “Life of Pi” as soulfully nourishing, but it’s frequently amazing. A 3D adaptation of Yann Martel’s celebrated 2001 novel, the picture comes to life in ways the big screen hasn’t seen in years, taking the potential of a survival film to extraordinary heights of fantasy and spiritual meditation. It’s thrilling cinema, even if director Ang Lee doesn’t quite achieve a sense of thunderous enlightenment at the end of the effort. However, this deconstruction of storytelling remains a frequently mesmerizing, exhausting sit, highlighting some of the finest technical achievements of the year.

Young Pi (Suraj Sharma) is a curious boy eager to process life’s mysteries, turning to the wonders of religion to understand humanity and sacrifice. Raised inside his family’s zoo in India, Pi is just getting used to adolescence when his father (Adil Hussain) decides to take his loved one to Canada to begin a new life, looking to sell their collection of animals on the voyage to North America. When a powerful storm manages to sink the ship carrying Pi’s family, the teen finds himself scrambling for a lifeboat alongside a zebra, a hyena, and an orangutan, while a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker rests under a tarp. Lost at sea with these animals, Pi watches nature take its course, leaving just the tiger on the boat, forcing the frightened survivor to manage his meager existence without upsetting his enemy. Attempting to build a routine to keep his mind alert, Pi takes an insular journey of endurance, searching the heavens for guidance as the days become months, with no hope in sight. Working from fear to trust, Pi and Richard Parker grow to connect as equals, experiencing a daily struggle that alters their nature and expands their minds.

The story, one of magical realism, of “Life of Pi” is told through flashbacks, with an adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) recounting his tale to an enthusiastic writer (Rafe Spall) hungry to hear about this extraordinary situation of stamina. Before the lifeboat event can begin, we are fed the full experience of Pi’s existence, from the origin of his name to his understanding of animal behavior, forged through intense circle of life encounters. It’s a brief study, though critical to the picture, capturing this developing consciousness as it yearns to be filled with a study of religion, with Pi feasting on the teachings of gods and men to acquire a richer feel for the world around him. It’s a life on the cusp of a romantic breakthrough as well, rudely cut short by the family’s relocation to Canada, necessitating a considerable effort to move a collection of animals across oceans, on a Japanese ship populated with kind passengers and a hateful staff (Gerard Depardieu portrays a nasty cook).

While photographed with detail and elegance, once the wreck occurs and Pi is sent on his mission of self, Lee’s feature blossoms into a mighty visual spectacle, with the deep sea, rolling waves, and claustrophobia of the lifeboat used to create a harrowing series of challenges for the lead character, captured with magnificent 3D cinematography (credited to Claudio Miranda) that makes full use of the format, executed with clarity and imagination. “Life of Pi” is a feast for the eyes, observing the delicate movement of the animals (brought to life with remarkable CGI), the dangers of the ocean, and the expanse of nothingness as the teen and his tiger float aimlessly, with Pi working on plans to feed and train the beast to keep his distance. A particular favorite sequence arrives in a glowing field of bioluminescent life punctured by a whale breaching, disrupting the OCD order of Pi’s survival procedures while reminding the young man of the complex and awe-inspiring life that lives below the surface of the water, giving definition to his prison. Not many movies are worth the 3D experience. However, I couldn’t imagine seeing “Life of Pi” any other way.

While incredible to study, “Life of Pi” is fairly grueling to sit through, forced to endure extended beats of animal behavior and boat maneuvering, making the viewing experience exhausting and a little on the repetitive side. Fantastical events break up the monotony and potential seasickness (the waves are all too real), with a visit to a mysterious island populated by meerkats servicing the needs of the adaptation, yet feels a little too loosely defined in the context of the picture. The same sensation returns at the conclusion, with an interesting dissection of storytelling and its powers of comfort left incomplete, rushed to find a worthy ending. There are holes in “Life of Pi” worth additional discussion, though it hardly reduces the impact of the effort. It’s beautiful work from Lee, displaying real passion to decode a difficult novel, while pushing the 3D cause further than any filmmaker has before.

Starring: Irrfan Khan, Suraj Sharma, Gérard Depardieu, Rafe Spall, Tabu, Andrea Di Stefano
Director: Ang Lee

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Life of Pi, Forum Discussions

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Ang Lee's Life of Pi 84 Jan 27, 2013
Life of Pi 5 Sep 29, 2012

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