I’ve been sucking oxygen on this little blue-green ball in Space for over 14000 days and I have never watched a film that made me want to read the original book. Not once. Not ever. I’d always read the book first and if I liked it, I’d go watch the film and, usually, be disappointed in the directors interpretation or moan in the cinema to my wife that “that’s not what happened in the book!” or “they left out one of the best parts!“. That all changed last night when we went to see Life Of Pi on a whim. (no spoilers here)
Now, thanks to my wifes recommendation almost a decade ago, I knew about the general idea of a young boy being trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger but not much else. I figured it sounded interesting but, being the fantasy snob I am (was?) I could not get past that the little phrase “Winner of the MAN Booker Prize 2002” proudly displayed on the cover. (rather than go off on a tangent, I’ll explain that prejudice in another post). Written in first person and an opening about suffering, religion and the habits of a three-toed sloth did not inspire much and I just never bothered.
Needless to say I feel like a twit right now. I am three chapters in and it’s already better than Ang Lees masterpiece. I thought I liked Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but Life of Pi is definitely in my top movies of all time, sharing space with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (have not seen Hobbit yet), Gladiator, Inception, Pulp Fiction, Se7en, Leon, Spirited Away and many others. I have not read any reviews but I figure an 8.3 from 55k IMDB users is a fair confirmation that I am not far off in my opinion.
Without completing the book, I am unsure how well Mr Lee has done but even so the movie stands out from the usual fare. We did not see it in 3D as I am one of the many that loathe the weird distortion and associated headaches but the imagery and special effects in 2D are simply breathtaking. If you look carefully, you can see when they use a real tiger and when its CGI so it’s not perfect but it’s still brilliantly done. One would think that drifting on a boat at sea would not present much in the way of visual candy but the animals, sea life and meerkats more than make up for it.
Suraj Sharma is a great young actor and plays the ‘tiger tamer’ perfectly. Like Dev Patel from Slumdog Millionaire, he fit the part and it was refreshing to see an unknown face with so much screen time do so well. Unfortunately for Suraj, Richard Parker steals every scene he is in and I hope ‘he’ gets an Oscar.
I’ve still got to finish the book and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has yet to see the film but this gets a definite thumbs up from me. If you have not seen it yet, go. Now. Before it’s no longer on the big screen.
Here is a trailer from Youtube.