Review by Pete Mason
When people say ‘The book is better than the movie’, they’re usually right. I wish I’d read “Life of Pi” before seeing it, because even though the film is visually stunning and absolutely incredible in telling this story, the prospect of the book being better is intriguing, to say the least. Ang Lee takes a tale of tragedy and survival and applies the most vivid lens imaginable,
The plot, while slightly far-fetched, stretches the imagination of the viewer, as we are taken through what looks like a completely plausible story once the tale carries on. A young Indian boy named Pi (Suraj Sharma) is moving across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, with his family and their zoo animals that will be sold upon arrival.
On the way, over the deepest part of the ocean, the ship sinks in a storm, leaving Pi on a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a Bengal Tiger, to fend for themselves. One thing leads to another, and it’s just Pi and the tiger, with Pi using his wits to match the tiger’s strength and power over him. Through their circumstances, they learn to co-exist, survive and manage not to kill each other in the process.
What makes the story progress so well is the incredible effects in the film, and not just of the animals, but rather the fish, the ocean, the boat and the horizon, as well as the night sky, are all made to be so realistic that you cannot help but feel trapped in the middle of the ocean with Pi. There were a couple of instances where the audience (myself included) gasped at the action on the screen, displaying a connection that is hard to find in a good film these days, but among the best, the connection is most apparent. “Life of Pi” is an exciting story and even though you know he survives the tale, it is the how that is mind-blowing, and really makes me want to read the book.
As a resource room teacher, I can only hope that one of my students starts reading “Life of Pi” soon, so I can read along and enjoy Yann Martel’s novel in the original form. Ang Lee’s film is a tremendous production worthy of seeing in theaters, while available.
“Life of Pi” is nominated for 11 Oscars and is rated PG-13. It is currently playing at Madison Theater and Crossgates 18.