“”Life of Pi” is visually stunning and tells an incredible story. But it is not the next “Avatar.”
Director Ang Lee shares many gorgeous images in this movie. From the opening credits with animals galore, to the blendings of sea and sky, to the amazing enchanted island, to the luminous fish—shot after shot is memorable. And the story is pretty good, too.
A clever young man in India shortens his embarrassing first name to “Pi.” He covers his bases with God. He’s a Christian, a Muslim and a Hindu. His family, which owns a zoo, moves to Canada, traveling with their menagerie via freighter. A monster wave sinks the ship and Pi finds himself in a lifeboat with four zoo animals: a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a fearsome tiger. The story is related to a writer by an adult Pi, so we know from the outset that he survived the ordeal.
Most of the movie is set at sea, in and around the lifeboat. The survival instincts of this teenager, along with guidance from a book found in the lifeboat, keep him going through numerous frightening episodes. His “relationship” with the tiger fuels the story’s progress to its conclusion.
Suraj Sharma is the Indian actor who portrays the teenage Pi. His performance is a good one for a movie rookie who is charged with carrying the bulk of the movie’s story. Like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away,” he is the only human on screen for most of the movie.
This is a movie to see in 3-D on a big screen. It is, as they say, “a feast for the eyes.” There is peril and a few scenes that frighten, but “Life of Pi” (rated PG) will thrill kids just as much as it does adult viewers.
Early marketing for “Life of Pi” contained a critic quote that compared it to “Avatar.” Both are pretty to look at and both have compelling stories, but “Life of Pi” doesn’t have the heft of “Avatar.” Enjoy “Life of Pi” for what it is… a solidly entertaining movie. A classic? That’s still to be determined.