Stop whatever you’re doing and go watch Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi right now. Seriously, people. I don’t even care if you don’t finish reading this review. Just make sure that you go see this movie in the theater — in 3D, if possible. I say this because if you procrastinate and end up having to catch it on DVD or BluRay, you will kick yourself for missing out of one of the most visually stunning and emotionally challenging films to grace the big screen in the last few years. Time Magazine was not kidding around when they called it “the next Avatar.” The 3D movie house experience of The Life of Pi is unparalleled so far.
The picture itself is a surprisingly faithful film adaptation of the 2001 critically acclaimed and widely-loved Yann Martel novel of the same title. Of course, minor details here and there have been changed in order to better suit the movie storytelling style, but it is in no way less colorful, scary, challenging, or beautiful than the book is. Ang Lee uses water, reflections, and wide panorama shots to really drive home the feeling of isolation. During the ‘lost at sea’ portion of the story, you truly do feel… lost. While the wildlife and creatures are magical and oft times even glorious to behold, it is never lost on you that they are dangerous and very wild creatures.
One thing that I found interesting as a lover of the book is how the movie ends. While it is not different from the book per se, the facial expressions of the actors, the musical scoring, and the shot selection & cinematography actually evokes a slightly different response from the book. The call for introspection at the film’s close will fill the viewer with meaning and one will find that the story grows in richness long after you have left your cinema seat.
At the end of it all, each movie-goer is challenged to believe the incredible, expanding both one’s imagination, as well as one’s faith. It doesn’t matter what you believe — religion or creed, theology or philosophy — at the end of Ang Lee’s The Life of Pi, you will no doubt believe it more.