The film follows Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel from his youth (where he adopts three different religions by the time he reaches adolescence) to middle age. It primarily focuses on Pi’s 227-day spell as a shipwreck survivor lost at sea with only wild animals – including a Bengal tiger named “Richard Parker” – for companionship.

Leaving India behind due to political strife, Pi and his family board a freighter bound for Canada and a new beginning. But during their sea voyage, a massive storm sinks the ship, leaving Pi the sole human survivor. He then endures a Job-like ordeal that ultimately brings him closer to God even as he struggles with his most primal, animalistic instincts.

This film is such an extraordinary accomplishment when you consider that a huge chunk of it is set in one location and features a protagonist played by a non-actor performing opposite CGI animals. So many things could have gone wrong with Life of Pi – once deemed by many to be an “unfilmable book” – and yet it turned out so very beautiful.

Life of Pi is one of the year’s most stunning-looking films, and one of the very few that should be seen in 3D to be fully appreciated. The amazing visual effects actually lend this fantastical movie a heightened realism; the CG tiger seems like it really is there in the boat with Pi, as do the zebra, hyena and orangutan.

These CG animals are on par with those similarly excellent digital creations in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Pi is a case where visual effects serve and enhance the story, making us fully buy into the otherwise preposterous notion of a boy and a tiger lost at sea together.

But as fantastic as the visual effects are, Life of Pi simply would not work if Pi himself was unengaging. Faced with an unenviable task, newcomer Suraj Sharma excels in this technically, physically, and emotionally demanding role. Sharma – who apparently had no real acting experience before he was cast — carries the bulk of the movie all on his own; what a hell of an accomplishment! Younger versions of Pi are played by Ayush Tandon and Gautam Belur, both of whom are charming enough to quickly get the audience invested in this character’s epic journey.

Indian star Irrfan Khan — who stateside audiences might know best from Slumdog Millionaire and The Amazing Spider-Man (another movie featuring a character named Richard Parker) – plays Pi as a middle-aged man recounting his incredible tale to a spellbound writer (Prometheus’ Rafe Spall, who replaced Tobey Maguire). Khan’s Pi is a man who’s lived with trauma for decades, yet strives to remain hopeful. Gerard Depardieu cameos as the doomed freighter’s brutish cook, while Tabu and Adil Hussain make their mark as Pi’s devoted parents.

Life of Pi may not ultimately be as profound or insightful about spirituality as it believes, but as a survival tale, an allegory, and a visual spectacle it’s magnificent. It’s a poetic and powerful work of art that’s often as humorous as it is heartfelt. For a movie so utterly dependent on CGI, the most amazing thing about the film is how human and accessible it is. Life of Pi is, without a doubt, one of the must-see movies of the year.

You are watching: Life of Pi Review. Info created by GBee English Center selection and synthesis along with other related topics.