It’s not out for another month over here, but some international critics have already seen Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, and as they tend to, have begun reviewing the film…
Starring Suraj Sharma and Rafe Spall, the movie is adapted from Man Booker-winning novel of the same name by Yann Martel and tells the story of a young Indian man who survives on a boat for 227 days after a shipwreck with only a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker for company.
Previously considered to be an unfilmable novel, has Ang Lee managed to turn the surreal tale into a successful adaptation? And is it an Oscar contender?
Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun Times certainly thinks so calling it “one of the best films of the year”. He goes on to say the film is a “miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery” as well as a “moving spiritual achievement.”
The LA Times is in agreement, professing that Ang Lee’s film is a “masterpiece” in the review’s headline. The gushing review goes on to say: “Their struggle for survival is as elegant as it is epic with the director creating a grand adventure so cinematically bold, and a spiritual voyage so quietly profound, that if not for the risk to the castaways, you might wish their passage from India would never end. There are always moral crosscurrents in Lee’s most provocative work, but so magical and mystical is this parable, it’s as if the filmmaker has found the philosopher’s stone.”
Praise for the 3D film continues from CNN who proclaim: “Ang Lee has made a bold and wondrous movie, one of his best.”
Unsurprisingly, Life of Pi relies heavily on visual effects, which CNN are quick to commend, saying “this is stereoscopic CGI image-making as pure visual poetry, a demonstration of what the medium can do in the right hands that is worthy of comparison with Avatar and Hugo.”
India Today also praises the filmmaker’s use of CGI and 3D affects professing that the film is “nothing short of a cinematic miracle” and “the best [3D] you have ever seen.”
Yet not all the critics were unwavering in their praise…
Though saying that “there are images in Life of Pi that are so beautiful, so surprising, so right that I hesitate to describe them”, the New York Times concludes that “the movie invites you to believe in all kinds of marvelous things, but it also may cause you to doubt what you see with your own eyes — or even to wonder if, in the end, you have seen anything at all.”
Wired.co.uk said the film “hits the God drum just a little too hard” and “its heavy-handed message is a hump that might be hard for some to get over.”
Village Voice goes one step further stating that, impressive visuals aside, “the story’s relentless articulation of its thematic aims proves a buzz kill” and as a consequence the film “sinks like a stone”.
So is it a credible Oscar contender? It’s mainly praise-filled reviews and high Rotten Tomatoes rating certainly suggests so…
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