Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) and a fierce Bengal tiger named Richard Parker must rely on each other to survive an epic journey.

Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) and a fierce Bengal tiger named Richard Parker must rely on each other to survive an epic journey.

REEL REVIEWS: Film is magical option to novel

Life of Pi is fulfilling and disappointing, just like life.

  • Nov. 30, 2012 2:00 p.m.

A deeply spiritual Indian man named Pi recounts some of the more interesting tales from his life to a would-be author who is seeking a story to publish.

Pi grew up in French India in the early 1970s, where his family owned a small zoo that was losing money.

Pi’s father had the opportunity to emigrate his family to Canada, so they sold everything they could, setting off across the Pacific on a Japanese freighter, leftover animals in tow.

When the ship sank, Pi was the only survivor, sharing a lifeboat with three wild animals, any of them dangerous and deadly. His harrowing tale of survival takes place at the very limits of body, mind and spirit.

We say, “It’s fulfilling and disappointing, just like life.”

TAYLOR: I was very much looking forward to this film. I haven’t read the book, but the buzz around the film and the trailers made it out to be beautiful and magical. I found the story fascinating and the production to be top notch, but I felt let down by the conclusion. This is probably the result of my own personal preferences and not the fault of the filmmakers.

HOWE: Big, bold, and beautiful, yet I found it quite boring. It just seemed to go on and on. People are saying this is the new Avatar, but I don’t see the connection between the two films. Is it because they used 3D, bright colours and a huge sound score? So did Journey to Mysterious Island, but that doesn’t make it an instant classic.

TAYLOR: I have a simple rule with computer generated characters: I can put up with knowing I’m watching CGI, but I don’t want to be consistently noticing it. As for it going on and on, I thought there could have been at least one less shot of a tiny boat in an unfathomable large ocean.

HOWE: The acting was fine all around, from the very young Pi (Ayush Tandon) explaining the meaning of his name to his entire school, to adult Pi (Irrfan Khan) telling his story to the writer. There was some emotion in his voice and scenes of tears, yet I was unmoved. Last Friday night I watched E.T. (my first time since I was 11) with my little boy, and I choked up.

TAYLOR: There were three powerful moments in the film and all of them were effectively executed, but failed to put a lump in my throat.  Still, Life of Pi is an extremely interesting film, if only in that its effectiveness is determined by individual perception. You can only correctly discover Pi’s tale the first time, after that it’s a metaphor. I suggest, if you haven’t read the book, by all means see Life of Pi on the big screen in 3D. If you have read the book, you’ve already found the wizard behind the curtain. You know what you’re in for. Ask yourself, will it live up to your own imagination?

— Taylor gives Life of Pi 3.5 trips around 5.

— Howe gives it 2.5 seasick animals out of 5.

The film is currently showing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

–– Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film critics living in Vernon, B.C.

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