There are times when it just works. There are times when the soufflé rises just right. Sometimes it’s explainable, but if we’re being honest, it’s best when it happens miraculously. [...]
The film lacked in any big names in a starring role. This is always a risk, it either works or it doesn’t. Gerard Depardieu (The Green Card) had a small role. Maybe that’s why he was listed as an ‘and’.
The cast selected were good but they lacked pizzazz as it was quite slow. There were a few comic moments but not enough. They didn’t gel as a family.
The main issue I had is the film was more like a nature program than epic blockbuster. As children will be going to this, I will be flagging some scenes that were shocking.
The style of going back and forth from ‘Pi’ as adult, child and teen was very confusing. The ‘adult Pi’ was being interviewed about his life. This was as exciting as grouting my kitchen tiles. The format was again too slow.
There was a lot of CGI employed, even for a swimming pool scene – no wonder they didn’t have a budget for a half decent script.
It diverges then into ‘child Pi’ exploring different religions. This contrasts against the nature theme. When a film doesn’t keep to a main focus, it becomes muddled. This is what happened. Slow and confusing is not a good starting point. Rather like racing across an icy lake in loose flip flops.
In one scene child Pi’s father went so mad, he made his son watch a tiger eat a goat at his zoo. A bit of an overreaction! And I found the scene completely unnecessary.
All the child was doing was feeding a tiger to say hello to it. The mother didn’t seemed fussed and just let the father carry on. The family discussion about religion at the dinner table was dire and dull.
The teen Pi (Suraj Sharma) then falls for a girl, the switch in story was very jolting. One minute he’s a child seeing a goat being eaten, then he’s a teen fancying a girl. Then he gets told the family is leaving India and going to Canada. This is main part of the film.
His father sold the zoo they had, all the animals had to shipped. They were going to start a new life in Canada. His father argues with Gerard Depardieu who plays the ship’s chef. All over having sausages and gravy with rice. If they were vegetarians, why not simply ask for rice? A fight breaks out and I’m wondering – what??? This is a plot? It served no purpose at all.
Pi becomes shipwrecked when a storm hit’s the boat, the only survivor along with some animals on the sole surviving lifeboat.
The boat sinking was good CGI, the way Pi battled the ocean was very good. He jumped off the lifeboat as the tiger swam aboard. Then the tiger seems to disappear, allowing Pi to get back in. A zebra crashes in the boat, despite high waves and being injured it stays in!
Now here are the main plot flaws, somehow an orangutan, hyena and tiger are all living below the canvas cover of the small lifeboat. The next day they appear and fight and run all over. How is that possible?
The sudden attacks between the animals was quite distressing. One minute all okay, then smack, bite and gulp! The hyena keeps going underneath the cloth. The hyena ignores the orangutan, then again there’s another sudden fight and the hyena kills the orangutan. Then the tiger appears and kills the hyena! It was very graphic. I was shocked.
The lifeboat itself would make Batman jealous! It had food storage, life jackets, some of the floor could lift up and become rafts! Pi could carve pieces to become sticks, it had loads of oars. There were even blueprints and survival manuals! It stayed afloat, even if sea water was coming in! And somehow plugged the hole all by itself! So its unsinkable!
Teen Pi wasn’t that heavy as he clinged to the canvas at the front and side. He wouldn’t have weighed as much as the tiger. And one zebra at the back would not counterbalance three big animals plus Pi near the top. This amazing lifeboat needs making!
But with only Pi and the tiger, the film went down further than the sinking boat. It was not entertaining at all. Somehow Pi makes a mini raft (yes there‘s even more stuff in the trunk, netting and loads of rope!), where he can store all the cans, bottles etc. He needs to be separate from the tiger. He can even sit on the tiny raft and lay back. Wow!
You know by laying the cans, and everything, out on the box something is going to happen! Que a big whale who just randomly comes along and knocks them all off. Yes the lifeboat never capsized and Pi’s makeshift raft is intact too.
Then after three weeks, Pi gets an idea to train the tiger! Gee, what a novel idea. Still it took Harry Potter nine months to figure out the Chamber of Secrets, so three weeks isn’t so bad I suppose. So it turned into ‘How to train your tiger’. Oh man, that was tedious!
That’s where I stopped. This is movie meltdown at its worst. What a mess. Like the Fosters boys would say in the adverts – ‘Good call’.
If this is based on a book, I’ll skip the book. It was a bold vision from director Ang Lee but one that didn’t work. Perhaps if the movie had followed Pi from a child to adult in progression, that might’ve worked. Also a carnivore animal is restricting. I would’ve gone with the monkey and zebra – at least he could do more with them. Even Clint Eastwood had a great monkey in some of his movies. ‘Hit ‘em again Clyde.’
Suraj Sharma does show promise, I don’t think for his first film he should’ve been carrying the main part of the film. He was good – but the task was too big. It’s too much to ask of an upcoming actor. I felt sorry for him.
I will give this 4/10. One for the orangutan and zebra (they weren‘t in it much), one for Suraj, one for the CGI of the ship going down and one for the most amazing lifeboat ever built!
Image reproduced from wikipedia.co.uk
Trailer reproduced from YouTube/IGNentertainment
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About the Author: Erzi Paris is approaching the big 40 in age. He lives in London and loves writing, going to the theatre and watching films. Always abreast of celebrity news, his biggest hope is to be a reporter. He likes keep-fit and watches Wimbledon Tennis every year hoping one year a Brit will hold the trophy! His favourite authors are Michael Crichton and Rosalind Miles and he’s constructing a story arc along those lines.