Here we go, posting a movie review about a film I’ve watched a couple of weeks ago. I can’t believe I’m actually writing this one but don’t worry I know exactly what I’m going to say. That film is still rolling on my head like some sort of an acute aftertaste, so this has to go. The movie’s title is “Life of Pi” directed by Ang Lee and is currently nominated in nine (9) categories in the Academy Awards. And I have to say this up front: it’s not really good, it’s just one of the very best films ever made!
I’ve known the story of Life of Pi a few years before the movie since it is based on a novel which I truly loved. The reading experience was very unforgettable and it’s just hard to explain what that very special book feels like. Charming, wonderful, magical, mesmerizing; these are all adjectives which are on the right track but fell way short in describing the story. Then when I heard that they’re going to adapt it into a movie, I thought it would be an impossible task. Hence, the project went into a decade long production hell as two, three, four great directors passed on the project. Until it came into the hands of Ang Lee (who by the way fought like hell to get his vision into production… at the right budget$).
And after seeing the final product, all I can do is be amazed at what Ang Li has done. He successfully adapted one of the most unfilmable story and turn it into one of the most stunning film mankind is ever going to see. In short, WOW! Here’s the trailer:
Here’s the official synopsis of the book:
Pi Patel, a God-loving boy and the son of a zookeeper, has a fervent love of stories and practices not only his native Hinduism, but also Chrisitianity and Islam. When Pi is sixteen, his family and their zoo animal emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship. Alas, the ship sinks – and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and a 450-pound Bengal Tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi. Can Pi and the tiger find their way to land? Can Pi’s fear, knowledge, and cunning keep him alive until they do?
Ever wonder why I used the book summary instead of the film’s? They’re the same. I don’t know how the screen writer pulled it off but the movie was so honest-to-goodness faithful to the book. The events, even some details, were exactly as what I could remember. Most book-to-movie adaptation would just settle in stripping off the plot thin and what’s left goes to the screen. But this one is different. They actually ‘expand’ the story. If you want to read a book soon, read the original novel. It’s really amazing what they did on the screen play they kept the story grounded yet entertaining, filled with sharp dialogues and humorous narrative.
But perhaps the strongest aspect of the movie is the breath-taking pictures Ang Lee and cinematographer Claudio Miranda brought in. Oh as a big fan of the book I was wildly mystified at what my eyes were seeing on 3D; something I was forced to imagine long ago and now here I am watching it as a truly cinematic masterpiece. Such gorgeous special effects, great color choice, and those strikingly beautiful seascapes. Can they make a sequel to this one for visual effects’ sake? Obviously there won’t be, that’s the tragedy we all have to live with.
And, ladies and gentleman, please give a thundering round of applause to the man who fought for his vision to bring us this movie: Ang Lee! I never liked his Brokeback Mountain because it was disturbing and boring, I didn’t understand the ending of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and I think his HULK was soft, but let bygones be bygones. I am now a believer of Ang Lee. He is truly a world-class filmmaker who understand the aesthetics of the subject, respects it, and honors it. No doubt Life of Pi is everything to know about how great this man is. Someone special, someone to be admired and someone to be proud of as an Asian.
I guess there’s not much that went wrong in the movie, and this is not the place to find. I just want to marvel the movie’s achievements. The casting was great especially the first time actor Suraj Sharma who played the lost-in-the-sea Pi. Charming, smart and talented boy. How in the world did Ang Lee found this boy? The screenplay and cinematography, are sure lock for the Oscars. The production design is grand. And let’s not forget the visual effects used in the movie, which by the way blow me and my brothers away. Even the tiger, Richard Parker, is so real he should have been nominated Best Supporting actor at the Oscars!
Life of Pi is certainly a good case of the right people coming together in the right project and orchestrated by the right director. The result is simply stunning as if the magic found int the book came to life and took form in the big screen. A story worth dying for, a movie worth fighting for and all because Life of Pi is triumphant hymn to life.