HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Life of Pi
HTS Overall Score:93
Out of all the academy award winners this year, “Life of Pi” is the most unique. While most of them centered on human struggles, they were all straight forward narratives. “Life of Pi” strays from that mold, tending to be a bit more surreal and instead seems to flit between reality and a fantasy dream. Telling the tale of Pi with both traditional storytelling and Ang Lee’s phenomenal work as a visual storyteller, it draws upon both our senses of sight and sound to tell a story both simplistic, and complicated at the same time.
Our story begins with a down and out writer visiting our protagonist Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) hoping for a story that can bring him out of his writer’s slump. It seems that Pi was the sole survivor of a shipwreck during his youth, orphaning him, but giving him an incredible tale to tell. Acquiescing to the young writer’s request Pi agrees to tell the tale of his amazing voyage.
Pi was born and raised in Pondicherry, India where his father was a zookeeper. Growing up with a spiritual mother and an atheistic father caused Pi to go off and explore every religion he possibly could, giving him a rather unique perspective on life. Unfortunately for him, his father recognizes the end of his career in India and decides to sell the animals and move the entire family to Winnipeg where he has the ability to find work. Packing up and shipping out the family runs into a wild storm. A storm so powerful that it completely sinks the tanker leaving only Pi alive, floating in a lifeboat with a few of his father’s zoo animals.
As fate would have it, the only animal to survive the lifeboat encounter is a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Surviving with a wild Tiger was not exactly something Pi was expecting and as he has always done, he learns to adapt. Taming the Tiger is out of the question, but with some ingenuity and the common bond of survival, the two learn to live with each other on the 30 foot lifeboat. Pi and Richard Parker lean to adapt and survive on the ocean, due to Pi’s incredible ingenuity and the journey brings them closer together as well as allow Pi to discover the true strengths and weaknesses that he possesses when he is stretched to his absolute limits. Along the way he discovers mysterious islands, meerkats in the middle of the ocean and other strange phenomenon.
“Life of Pi” is a coming of age story in its truest form. We follow young Pi from a malleable young child, to his young adulthood in a matter of hours. Torn away from the standard morays of life Pi is stranded with his only friend a Bengal Tiger, left to stretch and grow under the most difficult of circumstances. There are a few eyebrow raising moments that are clichéd, but other than that Ang Lee has done an absolutely marvelous job at portraying a young man coming into his own.
The storyline itself is sweet and heartwarming, but nothing that would automatically enthrall you with interest. In the hands of a lesser director this could have easily been bypassed during the academy awards as just another drama, but under the masterful work of Ang Lee it blossomed into so much more. Ang Lee has always been adept at telling a story through visual aids, but here he out does himself. The visual aspects of the film are simply stunning. Complementing the script like yin and yang the visuals entwine with the words being spoken to create a whole story. Without a word being spoken Ang Lee has painted a story of sadness, love, pain and victory all in the space of two hours. While I have always been a fan of Ang Lees visual style, here he has made his masterpiece. The cinematography is enthralling and the stylistic choices here defy words.
Fans of the book should be very happy with the direction that Ang Lee took. He took a book that was rich and lush with verbal descriptions and turned it into a movie that mirrored the intents and soul of the written word. A visual masterpiece that entwines itself in with the survival story, “Life of Pi” was well deserving of its Academy award nominations for this year.
Rated PG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril
“Life of Pi” is absolutely perfect in the video department. Shot with six ALEXA digital cameras it is literally grain free, creating a smooth and shiny 1.85:1 presentation for us. To say that the film is colorful is an understatement of epic proportions. Literally SATURATED with bright colors from every facet of a rainbow “Life of Pi” literally explodes onto our home screens, filling it with bright reds, blues, greens and every pastel color known to man. Blacks are deep and inky, lacking any annoying black crush, allowing us to see even the darkest of scenes. Contrast is balanced well and fine detail is stunning (as one would expect with six high end ALEXA cameras). Every pore and hair on Pi’s face is lovingly rendered on screen. Richard Parker’s lush fur looks so real that you almost feel like you could reach out your hand and pet him. The Film is about as perfect as you can get, so as expected, there are no signs of artifacts or digital manipulations in the film. No macroblocking, color banding or signs of pesky DNR or aliasing anywhere on screen. The film was given ample room to breathe on the disc and showcases the beautiful photography with absolute precision. Well done Fox, well done.
Not to be left behind, the audio is every bit as impressive as the video score is. I’ve heard many an audio track before and have given great scores based on their ability to immerse the viewer in the movie. This is the first time that I have truly been awestruck by an audio track before though. The track is both subtle and aggressive all at once, drawing you deep into the film with nuances and little sounds that blend so perfectly with the aggressive sound of waves crashing down and the roars of a Bengal tiger. The Surround usage is constant and varied. The swishing of the waves envelopes the viewer into the ocean scenery and swirls around from all directions. I was amazed at the fantastic directionality of the track. You could literally heard a fish flop off the boat to your left and the creak of a board just to the right of you, even the softest of sounds like the fluttering of canvas in the wind could be cleanly heard. Dialogue is crisp and clean, centered in the front soundstage as it should be. LFE is extremely well balanced. Being that the first 40 minutes or so are heavily dialogue based don’t go in expecting the movie to sound like an action movie, but when the storm on the ocean starts expect you’re subs to light up with some of the cleanest, tightest and most balanced LFE tracks that I’ve heard in a long time. The thunderous pounding of the waves don’t just give off a deep boom, rather you can hear the tight thud of the ocean waves impacting with different obstacles, each one varied and distinct. One of THE best audio tracks I’ve had the pleasure to listen to.
• A Filmmaker's Epic Journey
• A Remarkable Vision
• Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright
• Story Boards
Finally I was able to see the movie that upset “Argo” and “Les Miserables” at the academy awards this year and see what all the fuss was about. Sweet and heartwarming, entertaining to the end “Life of Pi” is a movie that will entertain and serve use as demo material at the same time. It may not be as epic as it was hoped to be, but it was a very very good movie that deserved much of the professional attention that it received. I would have to categorize the film as visual poetry more than anything else. Being that Fox gave this the gold star treatment as well, I would highly recommend watching it.
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Addil Hussain
Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: David Magee
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 AVC
Audio: ENGLISH: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French, Czech, Hugarian, Polish, Turkish DD 5.1, German DTS 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 123 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 12th, 2013
Buy Life of Pi Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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