Life of Pi [IMAX] [3D]

disclaimer: I just finished the book the day before the movie

Book: Finally re-read this book 10 years after I gave up on it less than midway through. Back than, I remembered reading it and going "huh?", but now, 10 years older, I kind of better appreciate the storytelling, the structure and the underlying message of faith, belief and life. Part One and Three nicely bookmark the themes that was presented in an allegorical Part Two which Martel described with such cinematic quality that it makes me very excited to watch Ang Lee translate it into 3D on IMAX (for good or bad)!

Movie: Visually stunning! 3D is really an absolute must for this Ang Lee spectacle! There's no doubt that he will get another Best Director nomination and the show will get noms for Best Picture, Best Effects, Best Cinematography (side: my bet still on "Skyfall" actually) and Best Adapted screenplay. Whether it will win is another matter, perhaps in Effects. But Ang Lee's direction was amazing and some scenes really stood out! Beautiful and poetic. 3D was really used effectively here. From the opening montage to the Pacific adventures, the 3D gave the events a depth and realism that is both effective and immersive. Some shots are a tad gimmicky but they are not redundant. After Scorcese's "Hugo" last year, this really shows how 3D can be used brilliantly! The tiger was astounding especially in 3D. The acting was acceptable for first timer Suraj Sharma. The score by Mychael Danna was suitable but sometimes it lacked the sweeping grandeur that befit an epic fantasy adventure such as this. As for the plot, it was very straightforward. Some of the best lines were actually Yann Martel's own words from the book. <from here on, discussions may involve the inevitable comparison with the book which I had reviewed above> Unfortunately I think it lacked "something" from the book. Ang Lee made the incredible story more credible and plausible, and explained some inner thoughts via visual translation which suits the big screen. But all were in context with Part 2. The most cinematic part of the book. However, what was lost in translation was the heart and soul of the book. Part 1 was condensed and diluted and we lose out on Pi's religious growth which sustained the backbone of his survival in the Pacific. One new scene added by David Magee and Lee was totally irrelevant and added nothing to the story. If it did, it would have been acceptable, but nothing (*spoiler* the dancer). Part 2 was cinematic in the book and it was gorgeous on the big screen, but we are missing Pi's desperation and despondence. Without the increasing feeling of lost, and isolation abandon-ness, we cannot root for Pi to overcome his situation nor connect on a deeper emotional level with him. This was what was essentially missing from the movie. A lead character that the audience only have a superficial connection with. In addition, in my opinion, the book is not about "making you believe in God", but instead it makes you believe in Faith. The filmmakers tried too hard to jam the "God" bit in and missed out on the theme of Faith and the power of storytelling. The ending in the movie could have been more open and ambiguous like in the book, which would have made it more satisfying. Also, by censoring the violent, gruesome and bloody details of survival in the book, the movie sugar-coats the story and simplifies suffering. Granted, this book is difficult to translate to the screen, and Ang Lee has done a very commendable job. By itself, it is visually stunning with a simple, yet effective story about survival (and God if you so choose to believe). However, in comparison with the book, it loses depth and forgets about the power of a story to move, to instill faith and belief in the human soul.


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