If there was one book that I couldn't imagine being turned into a movie, it had to be Yann Martel's Life of Pi. The discovery aspect of Martel's novel is so reliant on proper pacing and the play between the readers perceptions vs the reliability of the narrator, that it's not made for a film format. Even director, Ang Lee, couldn't believe it when the script came his way.
I was hesitant to see this movie, because I found the book to be so remarkable. However, the high critical praise, award nominations and James Cameron's pitch on the amazing use of 3-D, pulled me into the theater. Ang Lee is one of my favorite directors and also big draw for me.
Firstly, let me address the 3-D. I am sad to report that Life of Pi was not significantly improved by utilizing 3-D. It is a beautifully shot movie, but would be so, in a normal format. There is zero reason to pay the extra money to see this movie in 3-D. Zero.
I am so over this 3-D trend.
I can't think of another movie that does a better job with CG animals. The animals were rather incredible in this movie. When we came home, we had to double check to see if the animals were real or CG. It turns out that the Tiger was almost completely CG, except when it was in the water. The artists nailed it in this movie.
The only one bad CG moment, was when the tiger pulls the goat through the cage. There is no way possible that goat would have easily fit through the bars. I think this was more of a case of not thinking it through logically, but both Dan and I immediately mentioned it when exiting the theater. It's always a fail when a moment rips you out of the fantasy of the movie.
It's rated PG, but this is definitely not a movie for young children or overly sensitive adults. Yes, it's nature, but it's often very graphic and brutal.
If you have not read the book, don't see the movie. it's apples and oranges. The movie was okay and I guess it captured the essence of the book. The actors are all just fine and there are many gorgeous scenes. There was nothing technically wrong, it just wasn't even remotely as impactful as the book.
Both the movie and the book are 2/3 a slow build to the turning point. The difference between the two, is in the book, the build leads to a "whoa, a-ha" moment and in the movie, it's more of a "oh, huh". The movie format and pacing completely undercuts the climax. The story has huge themes that get a bit muddled in the film.
Bottom line- Read the book, it's fantastic. If you've read the book, wait for the DVD and watch with lowered expectations.