Viewed – 07 May 2013 Blu-ray
One of the darlings of this year’s Academy Awards, based on the best selling novel by Yann Martel and scooping Best Director for Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) – I came to this with high expectations. Pi (Irrfan Khan) narrates the story of a fantastic adventure to a young writer (Rafe Spall) as the movie flashbacks of his childhood under the influence of his domineering father leading to a shipwreck following the family’s journey to move to Canada along with their Zoo. A teenage Pi soon finds himself adrift in a lifeboat with a ferocious Bengal Tiger for company, and has to find a way of surviving in the pacific ocean.
Immediately this is a beautiful movie … from the stunning scenery of India to the majestic ocean and the night time wonders, I found this a real treat for the eyes. The young actor playing Pi (Suraj Sharma) is both likable and a bit goofy, but believable and the effects work here for the Tiger (and various other animals and creatures – including meerkats!) is nothing short of amazing. What does seem to let this down however is a rather pedestrian pace and a story that isn’t quite as fantastic as the opening moments lead you to believe It’s basically two hours of a boy trying not to get eaten by a tiger. Granted the gradual bond that forms is well observed and some of the more spiritual themes and cultural observations are quite captivating … with Pi’s belief in God carrying him through much of the hardships. But like many a movie that is hyped with publicity and awards – I didn’t think this lived up to such expectations The story drags in places where it should shine, such as the overlong boat sequence that makes up the heart of the movie, and when things do develop, well, it’s pretty much over.
A movie you should definitely see if you love gorgeous visuals, foreign cultures and wildlife – but maybe not one to see, if you want a totally gripping experience.
Verdict: 3 /5