With Ang Lee’s film “Life of Pi” 3-D and Computer Effects Come of Age [Berkshire on Stage]

Review by Larry Murray

James Cameron, move over. In the brilliant film Life of Pi, director Ang Lee has employed and perfected all the technological wonders Cameron first pioneered with Avatar. Lee is aware of Cameron’s greatest achievements and employs them as well: Life of Pi has an outstanding ship sinking sequence as the film’s freighter glides into the deep with nearly the same impact as the groundbreaking Titanic first offered.

But it is the three dimensionality that makes this film more than just another great story. Cameron and now Lee are the benchmark that others will have to meet. Sadly, in Tinseltown, many imitators have used the 3-D effect fraudulently, as a gimmick to save mediocre movies. In fact, the question arises whether you can be a true artist in Hollywood at all, what with a lot of the 3-D effects being applied after-the-fact. The technology allows it, but the results reek of juvenile taste and tricks.

Too often the promise of 3-D does not meet the high expectations in the advertising, and it is bringing it into question as the future of film. Even for all its wonders, the Life of Pi is still a great story on film, made stronger by the alternately subtle and sizzling use of depth. You can’t apply it retroactively like make-up without also stamping a film as a mediocre wannabe. Yet until Life of Pi, most releases in 3D, even those shot in that format, were only so-so in quality, though animation was able to render the effect more compellingly than traditional fare.

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