This one I recommend.

This one is a Must-see!

Dazzling; a unique experience

Dazzling; a unique experience

Pi and Richard Parker, lost at sea.

Pi and Richard Parker, lost at sea.

Life of Pi is a healthy reminder that the often obnoxious and near constantly pointless gimmick of presenting a feature film in 3D can actually be put to great use. Directed by Ang Lee and based on a story by, this is a dazzlingly beautiful movie that tells a tale that manages to be touching despite the fact that most of it features only two characters. A young Indian boy and a Bengal tiger.

This is one of the only movies I’ve seen where I can honestly say that it actually needs to be seen in 3D if you want to get the full effect and that the 3D actually – get this – makes you feel more invested in the story and closer to the characters. Thus I would say that achieving something that so many filmmakers have failed to do for all these years is bordering on groundbreaking.

The story is told by a very religious Indian man named Piscine “Pi” Patel (Irrfan Khan) to a writer (Rafe Spall) who comes to visit him in his Canadian home. He tells the writer of when he was a young adult (played by Suraj Sharma) and the time came for him and his family to be forced to move out of India, alongside all the animals of the zoo they’ve owned for almost all their life. On a Japanese freighter ship they travel across the Pacific, but are eventually caught in a massive storm that pulls the entire ship alongside with most of the crew, animals and Pi’s family under. Pi, however, survives the storm. At the last second, he gets on a lifeboat that, unknown to him at first, also contains a large Bengal tiger by the name Richard Parker.

And from there the rest of the film is basically Pi’s struggles to use his wits and skill to survive alone at sea with one of the Earth’s great predators. It takes him long enough, but after a while it seems as though he and the tiger will be able to stay on that boat together. Without the mesmerizing and fascinating sights the two see when night falls over the ocean, land is briefly found and the depths of the sea bring out that which they’ve been hiding, this film probably wouldn’t be nearly is great as it is.

But even then, if you were to take away the film’s advantage of having spectacular imagery to go with wonderful music, Life of Pi would still offer a good share of heartwarming moments involving the way Pi finally and amazingly gets the tiger on his side, as well as some sad moments where Pi begins to realize that things might actaully be pretty hopeless.

The film is not entirely perfect, though. It takes a little bit too long to get started, maybe giving us some relatively useless facts about Pi’s childhood and the ending is going to be bit of a downer to many viewers. Also, there’s some major billing displacement going on with Gérard Depardieu, who gets third billing in the opening credits in spite of only having 1½ scenes. But with visuals so hypnotizing and its principal duo of characters, I’d say these flaws are pretty easy to look past. It is a movie experience that I can’t compare to any other I can think of and I will not be forgetting it any time soon. Life of Pi suceeded in doing what 3D movies have always been supposed to do: make you feel like you’re there.

One of the only movies I can think of to use 3D for its imagery this well is Hugo, as well as an immensely clever Pixar short called Day and Night. It seems to me, and I could very well be way off, that the error that most filmmakers tend to make is that they believe the appeal of 3D, what little there usually is, comes from how things jump at you and appear as though they’re flying out of the screen at the audience, when in reality it is the depth of things that can make imagery more awe-inspiring, especially if the imagery is something as huge as a chasm in the ocean or maybe even the ocean itself. I do hope that many filmmakers who saw Life of Pi were taking notes.

If I had seen it in 2012, I most certainly would have put it on my annual “Best of” list for that year. Sadly, it actually got its release here in Sweden last year so I won’t be able to include it on the 2013 list either, just because I saw it this year. I do hate being late to parties.

5/5 whatever

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