Saturday, April 27, 2013

Life of Pi on DVD

I'm going through quite a few of the Best Picture nominees from this year's Oscars, as you can see if you've read my blog recently, and though Life of Pi was lower on my list, I still thought it would be worth watching (I heard it was beautiful, especially in 3-D). I haven't read the book, by Yann Martel (but I'm not sorry I haven't), and I went into it pretty much not knowing anything about the story, just that the book has been a bestseller and is sometimes read as school literature. I did not see it in 3-D, but I can see how it was filmed for it and could have been even more visually stunning than it already was. I have not been converted to 3-D yet, and I rarely see a movie in that form. (Didn't even see Avatar that way.) So, I find it somewhat annoying when I'm watching a movie and something comes straight toward the camera in a move that is designed for 3-D. It looks set-up and fake in the 2-D experience. I was especially annoyed by it in Oz the Great and Powerful, but it was done at least more tastefully in Life of Pi.

(SPOILER alerts about the ending to follow.) And it's true: Life of Pi is a visual treat. It's a beautiful story (thought I don't agree with the religious morals of it) right up until about ten minutes from the end. The story should have stopped there, but it goes on to pull the rug out from under everything you've believed about what you've been watching and it tries to tack on some feel-good, religious meaning to the whole thing. I was almost loving the movie until then. When I explained what it was about to my husband, he sort of chuckled drily and said it was an appropriate choice for an Oscar nominee. If you've read my review of three other Best Picture nominees this year, you know my opinion of what normally goes for Oscar bait. It's usually the depressing stuff, and though I've enjoyed some of the other nominees this year, Life of Pi fits the usual Oscar fare, unfortunately.

Now, for those of you who, like me, haven't read the book or seen the movie, I will give you the plot premise without spoilers you wouldn't be able to deduce fairly easily if you've ever seen the book's cover or the movie poster. Pi, an Indian boy whose father owns a zoo, is crossing the Pacific with a boat full of animals when the ship sinks. Pi gets stranded on a lifeboat with several other wild animals, including a dangerous Bengal Tiger. Thus, the stage is set. And it really is an amazing story. I assumed Pi and the tiger would hit it off like a happy Disney movie, unbelievably becoming fast friends, but that's not the case, and I'll leave any plot details at that.

I was so disappointed by the ending that I have to warn you, at least, though I won't give spoilers. It ruined it all for me. So, if you want a visual treat and aren't too concerned about where the story might be leading you, it's kind of fascinating. But if you don't like being misled, take it from me: skip this one. And I really hate to say it, too, because there are some beautiful scenes, and Pi's resourcefulness is fascinating.

As I alluded to before, the other thing I don't like about the movie is its religious message. Pi is a Hindu, so he believes in all kinds of gods, including Jesus and Allah. The message seems to be that belief is what counts, but as a Christian, I know it's more than that. It's whom you believe in that matters. It's a nice idea to think all religions can agree and are essentially the same, but it's simply untrue.

If I could somehow cut off the end of this movie, I might give it the high end of three stars. As is, I hate to rate it and do it a discredit because the art of it is beautiful, and the performance by Suraj Sharma as Pi is heartfelt and emotional. But as a whole I didn't like this movie.

Life of Pi is rated PG for emotional content and scenes of peril as well as normal predatory animal interactions, and it's just over two hours long.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.