Life of Pi: Review (2012)

Ang Lee has directed some very artistic and emotionally charged films in his career and his new movie, Life of Pi is certainly no exception. But can his take on Yann Martel’s 2001 novel of the same name live up to his usual high standards?

In short, the answer is a resounding yes. From the stunning special effects and beautiful acting to the heart-warming story, it captivates from beginning to end like no other film released this year.

The film begins with a pet hate of mine, the credits. I always think a movie that starts with its credits is usually a huge let-down but something was different here, as soon as the brilliantly filmed names flash across the screen, I knew this film was going to be spectacular, just how spectacular however, I was not prepared for.

The story is, essentially what the title says it is, the life of a boy called Pi and his extraordinary journey from childhood, through adolescence and finally into adulthood. It seems quite simple and perhaps nothing too innovative or different, but the way Lee has captured the magic of the novel really does shine through on screen.

In the present day, Rafe Spall plays a budding writer searching for inspiration for his next big book. He comes across Irrfan Khan who plays the adult Pi and has an unbelievable story to tell. So, as he begins to narrate this incredible journey, the viewer is transported to when Pi was a boy.

It’s true that the film takes a while to get going and the scenes in Pi’s native India are perhaps the most testing of the entire film. The momentum is built up slowly as the boy travels through school life whilst his family run a small zoo in their hometown. Alas, the perfection of his childhood is ruined when his entire family decide to relocate to Canada due to an economic crisis. They are packed onto a tanker with the zoo animals on-board and begin the journey to their new life.

Whilst on the last leg of their journey, their ship is ravaged by a severe storm and Pi’s family is lost, along with most of the zoo animals and, in a scene that even betters the emotionally charged sinking in Titanic and the CGI packed sinking in Poseidon, their tanker is lost to the ocean.

Thankfully he survives, along with an injured zebra, a naughty hyena and a motherly orangutan in a small life-boat. It’s safe to say that the zebra and ape don’t last too long on-board a ship with a hyena and they are picked off as lunch. However, also sailing with them is Richard Parker, a Bengal tiger and he forms the basis of the film, along with Pi. At first, after Richard Parker makes light work of the hyena, the relationship between Pi and his new shipmate is somewhat strained, a constant battle between who is going to eat who and the only sensible option is for Pi to live on separate raft tied to the life-boat.

However, a few days pass and finally they can share a boat, albeit after a couple of amusing scenes involving urine and some flying fish.

Pi Patel & Richard Parker

Pi Patel & Richard Parker

Richard Parker is a beautiful animal to say the least, a mixture of live action tigers, CGI animation and animatronics really brings him to life, which is good considering he is the only other character in the film. This is where Ang Lee’s brilliance as a director shines, bringing warmth and heart to a character that is not only not real, but an animal, without the ability to talk and share feelings. Credit must also be given to newcomer Suraj Sharma who plays Pi Patel absolutely brilliantly. I simply could not believe this was his first big acting role; his performance is nothing short of stunning.

Then there are the special effects and 3D. Everything is a wonder to behold and the 3D is a help in enjoying the film, rather than a hindrance which it continues to be in other movies. There are two scenes in particular which really stand out, including a lot of jellyfish and a few thousand meerkats. I won’t say anything else, as they need to be seen to be believed.

Moreover, in the depths of this film lies a huge emotional core, the story of a boy and his ‘pet’ and the perils they face, the togetherness they bring to one another is touching to say the least and let’s just say there were more than a few sniffles coming from the rows behind me in the cinema. However, it is more than just a story of companionship; there is a deep religious message about believing in god even if he seems to not be there 100% of the time. Whether or not you choose to read into this is your decision, but it’s there throughout.

Life of Pi is something really special, a magical journey that needs to be seen to be believed. Very rarely, a film comes along that touches your heart, your soul and your head and this is one of those films. Everything from the performances of all the actors, the beautiful recreation of Richard Parker and stunning special effects make this film as revolutionary as Avatar was in 2009. It is not only the best film of 2012; it is one of the best films ever made. Please, I urge all of you who read this, go see it, and witness history in the making.


Scoring /10





Special Effects/Cinematography




Costume Design






Overall: A true masterpiece and a fine example of film-making.

2 thoughts on “Life of Pi: Review (2012)

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