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Grimes & Rowe Watch a Movie: Life of Pi

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

Grimes & Rowe Watch a Movie: Life of PiTitle: Life of Pi
Directed by: Ang Lee
Distributed by: Twentieth Century Fox
Release Date: November 21, 2012
Rated: PG

Synopsis: A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor … a fearsome Bengal tiger. (Via IMDB)

Brian: One joy of reading a book right before the film adaptation comes out is trying to wrap your head around how certain scenes and events will be filmed. But in most books the question has to do with the casting and with the director and where the camera’s going to point. In Life of Pi, the main question that arose in me was: How the hell are they going to put this on screen? And I’m not talking about a couple of scenes; I’m talking about the entire book. Even the early material, not at sea and not with a tiger, is so sprawling and dense that it seemed a difficult task for it to be translated on screen. I sat down for Ang Lee’s version of Yann Martel’s splendid book with great hope. Lee is one of the best, most versatile directors in the business. The man directed The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain, two of my favorite films. How was he going to handle this story? And in 3D, no less? I was told to find the best screen in Reno, so I headed over with Shaunta to the XD screen in Sparks to take in the 3D presentation of Life of Pi. And boy, was I pleased. This goes beyond just being a great movie. This is an astonishing filmmaking achievement, period. Life of Pi has to be seen to be believed.

Shaunta: I haven’t read the book, Life of Pi, so I went into the movie with just a bare idea of the premise of the story. Brian is right, it is gorgeous and it was well worth the $14 it cost to see it on an XD screen and in 3D. There were parts where I just wanted to crawl into the screen and be there in the beauty. As for the story itself, the first 30 minutes or so were slow for me. Once we got Pi grown up and on his way to his grand adventure, though, I was completely engaged. The author and the director pulled off making the idea of a boy stuck on a lifeboat with a fully-grown adult tiger believable, which was no small feat. The whole story had the feeling of a parable and I just loved it.

Brian: While the book got slow for me sometimes when we weren’t on the boat and with Pi and Richard Parker, I was never once bored in the movie. Lee does a good job with the set-up, bouncing back and forth between Pi Patel’s upbringing and the adult Pi telling his remarkable story. The forty-minute-or-so chunk that opens the movie is all very good. But it’s the material that follows the deadly rainstorm that leaves Pi and the tiger on the boat that the movie becomes the landmark of special effects wizardry it is. How was the effect of the tiger achieved? I don’t think I’ve ever believed a CGI animal, fully, in a movie before. I was afraid the tiger would look like Aslan in the Chronicles of Narnia. No, this is a full-bodied creature, totally convincing as a big screen character. Lee got me to care more for this tiger than ninety-five percent of the human characters in movies released this year, and that’s saying something. It doesn’t hurt that Lee found a great young actor in Suraj Sharma, who gives one of the most dynamic performances of the year as the teenage Pi. The film is also just beautiful to look at. On more than one occasion I actually uttered a “whoa.” There are shots in this film that truly take you to another place. My favorite is probably Pi underwater watching the ship descend to the bottom of the ocean. Tremendous. I don’t normally even like the use of 3D and it worked wonders here. Life of Pi is exciting, moving, fulfilling. It made me weep like a baby toward the end, on more than one occasion. I loved this film and encourage everyone to see it on the big screen!

Shaunta: The 3D was outrageous, for sure. And some of the scenes were just flat out amazing. There is a scene where the ocean is filled with jellyfish and some kind of phosphorescence and reflecting the stars, and it’s just crazy beautiful. Those first 40 minutes were too slow for me. I’m not sure it was necessary to start the story ten years back from the boat sinking. But that’s arbitrary. Even the slow parts were worth watching. And when the pace picks up, the story itself becomes irresistible. This is one movie you should definitely try to see on the big screen if you can. You’ll want to see all the big effects and intensely beautiful scenes big and bold. I don’t want to give away too much, but I do want to mention that this movie had a wonderful ending. I left the theater feeling good, and that’s always, always a big plus for me.

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