Of all the Oscar nominated films of 2012, I picked this one to make the most waves and it didn’t disappoint. Despite not winning Best Picture, it did manage to win 4 golden statues including one for Best Director! It is everything the Oscar committee loves…it has a deep storyline, it has a sense of wonderment, it has great effects (the 3D is amazing), it has been critically accepted, it has a great director and it has a bengal tiger named Richard Parker. So what’s not to like?
In the same vein as “Forest Gump,” this movie follows a story arc that reaches far beyond its main characters. It is a story of faith and why we must have it. It is a story of a boy becoming a man. It is a story of a man’s triumph over unbelievable odds. And it is as visually imaginative as any movie since “Avatar.”
It all begins with a writer who is looking for a story to write about. A friend recommended he visit a Pi (Irffan Kahn) and Pi DOES have an amazing story to tell. A story so amazing that it will make you believe in God, he says. It begins when he was a boy. Pi’s father moves his family and their zoo animals to Canada on a freight boat which capsizes one night due to a terrible storm. Pi (Suraj Sharma) finds himself on a life raft with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and the bengal tiger. Eventually, it is Pi and Richard Parker the tiger alone on the raft and they must learn how to accept each other or else both will die. This is obviously a brief summary of a story that is lush with adventure, exciting scenes and much drama as Pi and the tiger find themselves in terrible storms and without food.
Director/Producer Ang Lee has once again created a masterpiece. In 2005, he won Best Director for “Brokeback Mountain” but this film is a MUCH bigger accomplishment simply because of all the green screen work and the interaction of a CGI tiger. It takes a great director to get such an amazing performance from an actor who is working with computer animation and Lee’s direction made this movie flow flawlessly. Not only did he get great work out of his lead, he did it with a lead who had no acting experience prior to this film. It has been well documented how Lee interviewed over 3,000 people for the lead role and he hand-picked Sharma. This decision was absolutely the correct one as Sharma is perfect for the role and does an amazing job interacting with a tiger that really isn’t even there!
Everything about this movie just clicks for me. I loved the cinematography, the score and the acting. It’s a perfect blend of fantasy and action and the meaning of the book is not lost in the translation to film. It is one of those rare films that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do and is as entertaining as any movie you’ll see in the theater. Oh…and by the way…you SHOULD see this in a theater, preferably in 3D. It’s worth the extra money!
Overall Rating: A