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Rather than two hours of philosophical mumbo-jumbo mixed with showy computer-generated imagery, the film adaptation of Yann Martel’s classic novel, “Life of Pi” is a beautiful spectacle. The movie keeps the eyes busy while providing a magical storytelling experience.
Directed by Ang Lee, “Life of Pi” opened on Wednesday with positive responses from critics and audiences alike. Touted as “a story that would make you believe in God,” the film is a CGI miracle, transcending any technological barriers in the film industry.
The film chronicles the journey of Piscine Molitor Patel, better known as Pi, as he is stranded in the middle of the Pacific ocean on a lifeboat after a shipwreck, with only a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker as company. Being the only survivor of the crash that kills his zookeeper family and their zoo animals on board the ship, Pi is forced to overcome the challenges of surviving the ferocity of his tiger companion, being stranded at sea and his own mind.
The novel’s film debut seemed doomed in the beginning, as the main characters are a boy and a fully grown tiger. With the help of CGI, however, Lee was able to pull together a majestic film in which technological advancements have at last allowed for a visual interpretation of this famous novel.
Actor Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi, keeps audiences believing every step of his journey, despite the fact that his debut role was filmed using primarily green screen technology, with no tigers present. Joining Sharma in the pool of excellent performances is actor Irrfan Khan playing an adult Pi, who manages to spur laughter in the theater, as well as the occasional tear, when describing his adventures with Richard Parker.
The oceanic isolation of the film provides for a simple background, which Lee transforms into a masterpiece, using the water as a canvas. He creates vivid displays of colorful, illuminated fish and allows for the sea to act as a mirror to the skies, on multiple occasions giving the illusion of Pi and his tiger companion floating on a starry abyss or through plump colorful clouds in a fading blue sky.
One minor issue with the film is the overuse of CGI in the beginning of the film. As the movie opens to display Pi’s family’s zoo, a montage of the zoo’s animals is shown, leading with an unnecessary abundance of CGI animals mixed amongst the real animals. While this detail is minor, it almost cheapens the quality of the film and seems strange, considering there is no lack of real zoo animals at hand. As it is the only problem found with the film, this detail should be overlooked in the face of this beautiful and heartbreaking chronicle strewn from the foundations of Martel’s novel and visionary splendor of Lee.
A triumphant, well-told narrative from beginning to end, “Life of Pi” leaves viewers satisfied yet contemplative. As the best movies often do, this film forces a sense of wonder afterwards and allows for alternate interpretations from difference audiences. The very nature of it being an adaptation of such a widely read, age-old book only adds to its success as well. It has yet to disappoint readers, with most commentary noting its accomplishment at doing the novel justice. “Life of Pi” is a film for the whole family with minor frights and peril, taking viewers on a ineffable journey of graphic and philosophical splendor.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Megan Curry at Megan.firstname.lastname@example.org.