Skip to main content

Movie Review: Life of Pi (2012)

20th Century Fox
Runtime: 2 hours, 7 minutes
Rated: PG (for emotional thematic content throughout, some scary action,
and sequences of peril)
Director: Ang Lee
Writers: David Magee, Yann Martel
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain
Adventure | Drama

Ang Lee's Life of Pi is an adaptation of the 2001 novel by Yann Martel, one of the writers for the film, wherein a spiritually searching Indian boy from Pondicherry is lost in the Pacific ocean with a fully grown Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.


When his family decides to uproot on the prospect of new work in Canada, the dissenting voice is that of "Pi Patel" (Suraj Sharma), a spiritually yearning kid whose interest in the religions of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam lead him in and out of clarity on the meaning of life and its true purpose.

With the long trip to Canada through the sea at hand, it is here that the disaster on the open waters sets him on the journey of a lifetime. Recounting this journey as an adult (Irrfan Khan), Pi hands off the story to a writer (Rafe Spall) who expresses that he is looking for reasons to believe in God.

In the narrative, we meet up with Pi and his parents not long after he is trying to discover himself as a young child, as he tries to feed a tiger through the bars of a cage. Nearly losing his arm, his father (Adil Hussain) yanks him away: "A tiger does not think like a man. The emotions you see in him are your own emotions reflecting back at you." The object lesson from there is of making Pi watch as a tiger consumes a lama. A harsh lesson, but one that goes a long way.

Years later, we have Pi admitting that were it not for mom and dad's harshly pragmatic lessons, he would not have had the skills to survive. And indeed, many a wisdom-seeker will admit that the fear of God may be the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7), but it is certainly not the end.

Pi's parents are at odds with his "accept all" ways of thinking. They are more than a little taken aback by it. "You must choose a path!", they urge him. But young Pi has to experience more of the world before he can know what he believes -- and what he is capable of.

When stranded at sea in a lifeboat and few supplies, with a fierce and vicious tiger, Pi finds himself in the most uncertain of situations, but it is in this dire and seemingly hopeless situation that our story is given its power.

The amazing CGI work (almost undetectable if you went in not knowing that the tiger was fully a CGI creation) and message about finding hope makes this one of Ang Lee's best works and a well-done adaptation of an intricate novel. Only rarely do the dialog-heavy narrative and thickly visual embellishments make it seem as though any focus is lost.

Life of Pi certainly did not make me believe in God, but it had enough respect to not let itself get bogged down with the bloatware of religious dogma, but instead, let the conception of a higher power be its main consideration. What I loved most was its honest handling of the philosophical material behind it and the desire to speak wisdom to an audience of wonderers about what it meant to come out with just enough to survive -- only to then look back and ask the question: Was this for a reason?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

Movie Review: The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

When free spirit “Jules” (Anna “Go Girls” Hutchison) tells her best friend “Dana” (Kristen “Revolutionary Road” Connolly) what a good time they’ll be having at a cabin in the remote woods, you automatically know and are glad that she has no idea at all what awaits her or her friends, and neither does Jules’ jock boyfriend “Curt” (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth). The same is true of their intellectual friend with his notably piercing gaze, “Holden” (Jesse “Grey’s Anatomy” Williams) and their stoner friend “Marty” (Franz “The Village” Kranz) who seems to have a better grasp of reality, despite himself. Takes all kinds.

After taking off in the RV up the mountain, they stop for gas and run into a weirdly cryptic and confrontational gas station attendant (Tim De Zarn). When they’re back on the road after a near-fight, it isn’t long before they arrive and forget all about it. Following horror movie suit in letting out their whoas about how cool the place is and how much fun they will have losing t…

Movie Review: Django Unchained (2012)

At about 3 hours long, Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s latest mental sickness-inspired adventure of a slave named “Django” (Jamie Foxx) who is freed by a German dentist-turned-bounty hunter, “Dr. King Schultz” (Christoph Waltz) who helps Django rescue his enslaved wife from a cruel plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio) in Mississippi.