It’s unusual for me to watch the film before the book but I was enthralled by the taster trailer of Life of Pi and mixed reactions to the book made me not want to spoil the film. It sounds like a bit of a marmite book and I do want to read it now I’ve seen the film (which others have said is very faithful to the original story).
It’s a visually stunning film. Richard Parker (that’s the tiger) is gorgeous in both CGI and real tiger forms; I want my own tiger even though he’d probably eat me. Pi’s ocean landscape is beautiful and really showcases the technology. I’m not that fussed about 3D but the underwater sequences work well, as does the storm. Some of he scenes of old Pi and the writer seemed a bit silly in 3D though, not sure the depth worked there when compared to the larger scale scenes.
You can enjoy the film without thinking very hard about the actual themes. This is where the film will probably be more widely enjoyed; a child can watch the story of a boy and a tiger in a boat without worrying about what it means (although they should be old enough to know about death). The scene with the meerkats may suffer a little with UK audiences as they are now inseparable from the bloody Compare the Meerkat adverts. However the part where they all go to sleep together is completely adorable.
For those not familiar with the book, there’s religious themes underneath the shipwreck story. Young Pi has adopted three different religions and believes animals have souls; his father tries to teach him a lesson that Richard Parker is merely a beast not a friend, something that is constantly in your mind during the film. I did like the point at the end as to which story is better; that religion may not be the truth but perhaps the fiction makes people feel better.
Life of Pi will be in UK cinemas on 20th December 2012 (in both 3D and 2D). Thanks go to Canongate and 20th Century Fox for allowing me to attend a preview screening.
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