Life of Pi – Film Review
More like Life of CGI, amirite?
Actually, it’s not a question. I am right.
It’s good CGI, though.
TL;DR My anti-CGI prejudice might have been a little bit won over here. The story is pretty bland, and the twist is some sack of shit. But Life of Pi is definitely good-looking. And I’m shallow, so, you know. 3 out of 5 stars.
I should probably tell you I had the twist spoiled for me long ago.
So what I’m saying is you should be impressed that I was still able to give it a 3.
The plot follows Pi, some Indian guy whose father ran a zoo or some shit. They decide to pack up the animals and head to North America on a boat. Things do not go well. Pi manages to land himself a life boat, but is trapped on it with various animals, one of which is a wild-ass tiger. Eventually it’s just Pi and the tiger, and Pi struggles to survive both the catastrophe and his feline frenemy. A bunch of CGI bullshit happens, then they make landfall. The story is told through a framing device of Pi regaling a novelist with his tale. Adult Pi reveals that the animals in the boat may or may not have been real people (one was his mum), and the tiger was his own survival or instinct or whatever.
My greatest disappointment with Life of Pi turns out to not be the CGI porn (though I didn’t love all of it. You’ll see), but the dull story. I mean, I guess there wasn’t much to work with. And I will admit that I found myself engrossed enough to get through the almost 2 hours. But looking back on it now, it was really empty.
I never really connected with Pi himself, so I didn’t care about his journey of survival. I was too busy looking at the pretty tiger.
Why I hate this movie:
The CGI has its moments of crapulence (yes, I watch The Simpsons), though. The tiger mostly looks astonishing, but the scenes where it’s really flipping about and doing acrobatics drive home the “Oh, this is fake” reminder. That’s easily the second most disappointing thing about Life of Pi: every time I thought I was settling into believing in the imagery, I’d be reminded that it isn’t real.
I would have been much more impressed if they’d gotten a real tiger/s to do it. But I guess PETA wouldn’t like that. People still care what PETA thinks, right?
The twist is pretty cheap. Not quite M Night levels, but it makes an otherwise inspiring story of survival/courage/co-operation distill into a depressing wangst. Life of Pi must have figured out that 90 minutes of a CGI tiger isn’t emotional enough, so they just tacked on “hey, he saw his mum get killed” for good measure. Meh.
And I was quite happy to roll with the “tiger was real” version. Until they happened upon a carnivorous, nomadic, floating island inhabited by thousands of Meerkats. Like, what? Way to ruin any suspension of disbelief. It doesn’t even serve any purpose to the narrative. All it offers is a quick chance for Pi to get some supplies. Why didn’t they just cut that bit out and skip straight to him and the tiger making landfall? I haven’t read the book, but that brings us back to the ol’ adaptation argument. The island thing was fucking ridiculous.
The novelist is a weirdo. He wants to hear Pi’s story in the hope it’ll make him believe in god. Wut?
Pi goes under the canvas to get supplies, but fails to see the motherfucking tiger under there. Good work.
Some of the CGI apart from the tiger didn’t work, either. The ship sinking ain’t got nothin’ on Titanic. Even the message-in-a-can that Pi chucks into the water is fucking CG. Fuck off. You couldn’t film a real fuckin’ can? (unless it was real and the CGi has finally fooled me. No. I can’t live like that)
Pi also catches a CGI fish. I guess that’s what CGI tigers like to eat. And he cries over having to take the life of the fish. What little sook.
Pi should have just let the tiger die. It would have made surviving a lot easier.
There’s 2 moments of extremely off-putting letterboxing (one of them being vertical. Yes, vertical) just to facilitate some 3D effects (I didn’t watch it in 3D, fyi). Just no. No to that.
Pi ends up looking like an emaciated Tina Turner drag queen.
Oh, and the Japanese insurance reps go with Pi’s fuckin’ tiger story over the much more realistic twist version. What the actual fuck?
Reasons to watch:
That CGI tiger does impress, yo. There was a scene where it’s just sitting still in the boat and it’s breathing. They could have swapped it out with a real tiger (maybe they did? Consipracy) and I wouldn’t have been able to tell. Touché, Ang Lee. Hulk is but a distant, painful memory.
I was rooting for the tiger (named Richard Parker, which is sho adorable) way more than Pi. When he’s stuck in the water and can’t get back into the water, I was bitching at Pi to just fucking let him up already. I know I said Pi should have just killed him, but I would have still been a bit upset if he had. I like cats (I’m on the Internet, aren’t I?).
Despite being uncompelling, Pi is amazingly resourceful. He builds (and upgrades) a raft to float alongside the boat so he can stay away from the tiger. That’s some smart shit.
The movie’s approach to religion is expressive and inclusive. Pi’s parents are cool. Even his father, an almost-militant atheist allows his son to believe what he wants to. Pi even samples several religions at once. And the movie never decides which one is right and preaches about it. Thank god (ah ha!).
His dad is a bit of a boss in general. When he catches a very young Pi trying to get close to the tiger, he forces Pi to watch it eat a live animal to show him how dangerous it is. I lol’d.
Chef Gerard Depardieu has no vegetarian option when Pi requests one. He unceremoniously offers a bread roll to suffice. Very lunch lady Doris (I told you I watch The Simpsons).
The rave plankton were triptacular.
Oh, and if you believe the twist version of the story, Gerard resorted to cannibalism very quickly. I lol’d.
Come for the CGI fest. Stay for the CGI fest. I know, right? 3 out of 5 stars.