Oh look, a movie based off a book! It’s almost like I planned that Free Form… moving on.
Based on Yann Martel’s book also titled Life of Pi, the movie version is a feat of technological genius mainly because the tiger doesn’t actually eat anyone. But I digress. It’s directed by Ang Lee which at first glance should make you be interested in it, and then should make you quake in your shoes because as much as this guy tries to make everyone forget it, he’s the one that took the Hulk and totally ruined him in every way possible.The story starts in modern day Canada, where our main character Piscine Patel (Irrfan Khan) tells about growing up young Pi: Suraj Sharma) in India in like the 80’s. Growing up he’s a Hindi, and then he meets Jesus, and then he meets Allah, and ends up being a Muslim-Hindi-Christian much to the chagrin of his dad Santosh (Adil Hussain), who really just wants Piscine to pick one and stick with it, then flaunt it in front of others like it’s the only truth in the world like a normal person.
Oh yea, and did I mention Santosh totally owns a zoo? So Piscine grows up surrounded by cool animals that, for all intents and purposes, want to kill him and have him for a midnight snack. That includes a giant Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker.
Now about the name… see, Piscine is a pool and his uncle liked pools so the main character is named Piscine. Which is all fine and dandy (albiet a little weird) till some kids decide that Piscine sounds a lot like “pissing”. Well Piscine doesn’t like that, so he decides he’s going to get people to call him Pi, and then he goes on to like be a genius who can figure out Pi to a lot of digits and people are impressed so Pi sticks.
He finds a girl, falls in love, is not being called “pissing”, and life is generally good. That’s the moments when his parents decide that the best course of life at that very moment would be to pack up, leave everything, and move. Because that makes total sense right? They sell all the animals in the zoo and head out on a boat to Canada with the aforementioned animals, when the boat decides to go all Titanic and leave everyone dead or drowning.
Except Pi. He ends up on a lifeboat. And while he’s the only human on board, he’s definitely not alone. Joining him is: an orangutan, a zebra (with a broken leg), a hyena, and I GIANT MOTHER SUCKING BENGAL TIGER NAMED RICHARD PARKER. But it’s okay, because in the course of like 10 minutes the hyena has eaten the zebra and the orangutan, and in turn the tiger has eaten the hyena.
Let’s review: Pi has no food, no water, no way of being rescued, and a little pest problem in the form of a 200+ pound male adult Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Now all he has to do is find land again…
Okay okay, so I literally just said that movies should be independent of the books they came from, so I’m not going to compare it to the book. That being said, as visually stunning as Life of Pi was, it seemed like it wasn’t sure what it was. A “man vs. nature” type story a la Cast Away? A philosophical look at religion and the nature of God? An excuse to use some really cool CGI effects? A guidebook for how to survive on the open waters with a tiger as first mate? The movie kinda bounces back and forth, never really landing on any one idea.
However, that’s also a good thing. See, it explores different themes and motifs, but for all it’s bumbling about, it makes sense. The story works in such a way as to make you feel like “oh hey, even though there was a massive thought-switch, it’s okay! I can roll with it!”
Rating: I’d give it a print. NOW, if you compare it to the book, Ang Lee did exactly what he did with The Hulk: He looked at the source material, said “eh, I can do better” and took a dump on it. Seriously. Up to the twist ending. But, book aside, it’s a good movie.