Oscar fodder – Mini Reviews: Life of Pi

With the Oscar nominees having been announced earlier in the week (no Affleck? no Bigelow? no fair…) things get serious, and my diary scheduling becomes all about fitting in all the films that are in contention and all being released around about now. As an act of public service, for those of you with schedules not able to accomodate such dedicated cinema-going, I thought I would post mini-reviews of all the Oscar films I see, as I see them. (Note: Argo has already been reviewed by me here; I missed Beasts of the Southern Wild, and I refuse to see Django Unchained on the basis I don’t like Tarantino films and it isn’t going to win Best Picture anyway ;-)). So, with the legal niceties out of the way, here goes…

Life of Pi

Despite having read and loved the book, and not being one of those people who won’t see adaptations of books they loved – I actually enjoy watching cinematic renderings – Life of Pi was still in the category of Oscar films I SHOULD see rather than Oscar films I WANTED to see. But, the trailer looked lovely and I was intrigued to see how Ang Lee could take a relatively unadaptable book and adapt it. So off I went.

For those not familiar with the story, the basic premise is this: an Indian boy named Pi, en route to Canada on a ship with his family and a boat load of zoo animals (yes, I said zoo animals) is the sole (human) survivor of a ship wreck. He is cast adrift on the deep blue sea on a life raft, with a bengal tiger for company. The tiger’s name is, rather unexpectedly, Richard Parker. The story is told from the perspective of an older Pi (played by Irrfan Khan), so we know from the get go that Pi survives. However, how he survives is where the story really gets interesting…

The story is a powerful one, and add to that the simply sumptuous 3D effects and it is like you have stepped into a National Geographic magazine while tripping on some high powered narcotic (not that I know what that would be like – I am just guessing). Anyone who loves a good trip to the zoo will enjoy this, not the least for the intimidating Richard Parker, who serves as an impressive Best Supporting Tiger, and as both predator and salvation for the young Pi (played very well by Suraj Sharma). At times I did indeed feel like I was at sea myself – such was the engrossing nature of the 3D. And I am VERY VERY glad I didn’t see this with my father, who would have delighted in pointing out the different types of fish that made an appearance here…

The word ‘life affirming’ is too often used in movie reviews, but it does fit well here. The present day narration – with (the lovely) Rafe Spall acting as our ‘in’ to the story as the writer who wants to know the older Pi’s story – helps to make this very surreal experience a more real one, and a relatable one for the audience.

So, here I go with my new Oscar rating system:

M&Ms from me: 4

I think it will win:Best Visual Effects (sorry Weta, I think they will wait for Hobbit Numero Three to reward you, but I could be wrong), and some of the technical awards.

It might win: Best Adapted Screenplay and maybe be a Best Picture contender…

It should win: Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Visual Effects.

Next on the review list is Les Miserables. Will it be as miserable as it looks or will the Hugh Jackman factor make it less so? Let’s see on Wednesday…




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