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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Movie thoughts: Life of Pi

by J.R. Wagner

Previously I wrote a post on my thoughts on the book by Yann Martel. Read it HERE if you're interested.

I was fortunate enough to see the film, directed by the great Ang Lee, last night. Ang Lee, whose breakout film Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (great film -watch it) is noted for its stunning visuals and superb acting. 

Life of Pi did not disappoint in either regard.  The visual effects were breathtaking. There were shots where you didn't know where the sky began and the sea ended.

Mr. Lee also used phosphorescence (occurs in nature...but not like this),  to give the sea creatures and characters at nighttime a beautiful almost alien glow.

One of Lee's greatest accomplishments was Richard Parker -the Bengal tiger who rode along in the life boat with young Pi Patel. It was very difficult (not impossible at times) do tell the difference between live action tiger shots and CGI tiger shots.

Richard Parker

Suraj Sharma
For the majority of the film, Pi was played by Suraj Sharma, who did a phenomenal job. I can only imagine this performance will open many doors in his acting career.

Great acting. Check.
Great director. Check.
Great story. Check
Great film. I wouldn't say great and here is why.

Pacing. The film moved too slow. The first part of the book -the lead up to the sinking of the ship, was captivating, well written and did not drag at all.  The first part of the movie, however, was not executed as well. Truthfully, if you are a teenager and got through the first part of the book without skipping ahead, I'd be impressed because while it was well written, the subject matter -the back story, wasn't nearly as interesting as what happens after the ship sinks.

So, do I have a solution? Of course. If you know my writing style, you probably know what I'm going to suggest before you even read the next sentence. Lee should have inter-spliced back story into the main story. With this method, you grab the audience's attention immediately -the ship is sinking, a boy is all alone. How did he get there? Why should we care about him?

Cut to back story. We learn about the zoo. We learn that his father decided to move to Canada etc.
Cut to main story. On the boat, Richard Parker, events unfold. At another opportune moment, we go and fill in more back story.  This way, the action keeps moving, we learn more and more about Pi and understand why he is how he is and does what he does.

Would I recommend this film? Absolutely.

Is it the best film of the year?  No. But it could have been with some creative editing.

Check out the Life of Pi website -it has some super cool stuff on it!

and here is the trailer just in case you haven't seen it yet.

To purchase Exiled, bid on the movie rights, hire me as a writer for the next Blade Runner film, the next Star Wars film, to hire me as a film consultant...for videos, fan art, contests and more, visit my website!

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