What if someone told you that they knew a story that would make you believe in God? That’s what a writer, played by Rafe Spall, is told about Pi’s adventurous and unbelievable story about a zoo packed into a boat that capsizes at sea. The story starts with a boy named Pi who grows up in his father’s zoo in India. As the zoo continues to lose money, Pi’s family decides to pick up and move everything. As the ship capsizes in one of the most visually intense scenes going back to Titanic, Pi hitches a ride on a lifeboat with a zebra, and more hidden surprises. Pi finds himself alone, his family dead, on the open sea full of sharks and other dangers. His only hope is to survive on the lifeboat and find refuge.
One of the strongest elements to Life of Pi aside from the acting, which will be touched upon later, is the amazing special effects. Ang Lee won the award for Best Director at the Academy Awards for his near perfect treatment of the effects displayed in the film. The biggest technological achievement is how well they were able to integrate the use of a real tiger and an animated tiger. The movements of the creature and how the fur flowed in the wind made the tiger look as if Pi was fighting the actual ferocious beast. Frankly, all of the animals looked great. The water scenes were filmed in a gigantic swimming pool surrounded by green screens. It became fun trying to pick out what was real and what was animated. That would make a great and difficult movie trivia game.
Like I said earlier, the acting in the film was another thing that really stood out to me. Like Danny Boyle and Slumdog Millionaire, Ang Lee searched for an actor that hadn’t been in a feature film and found Suraj Sharma to play Pi. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it would be to act with animals that aren’t actually there. Suraj’s reactions and emotions are conveyed nicely and it makes you as the viewer really feel for his character and what he is forced to go through. There are moments of sacrifice, tragedy, melancholy, and immense joy. The film ends in a question, possibly the best way to end a film like this. It forces you to think and leaves you wondering.
Overall, Life of Pi is a film that does what it needs to do to be successful, given its story, really well. The visuals and the acting, given that there is only one human for most of the film, is incredible. The only one thing that I had wrong with the movie is that some of the transitions from scene to scene are jarring. Actors and backgrounds transition at different times and I’m not sure that that sort of transition really works for this film. Even though the film touches on the topic of religion, it doesn’t shove it down your throat. Not being religious myself, I didn’t feel like the film was trying to preach to me in any way. It is more about Pi’s unbelievable path to survival.
Article by Tyler Comstock