When it's over, I gave up on the book by Yann Martel, but the film is something entirely different. After surviving a disaster at sea, Pi Patel (Suraj Sharma) finds reason to live in the form of a tiger named Richard Parker. Director Ang Lee is the main reason I saw this film. Having been a fan of his work since Sense and Sensibility (1995), I knew Lee would be able to bring to life what I fail to imagine from the book. The grand visuals capture Pi's imagination and the enormity of his dangerous surrounding. The animal CGI is believable, and there are many moments when fake and real become undetectable, thanks to some skilled editing. A film like this could have easily become consumed by the CGI and special effects, but it did not. Lee stays focused on the relationship between Pi and Richard Parker and how their relationship builds on their need to survive. The themes of faith, survival, and hope are strong undercurrents throughout the film with each scene building on these traits. I can understand why many Canadian high schools require students to read the book, since the story offers a great deal of "food for thought" and group discussion. The story is narrated by Pi many years after his ordeal as a castaway at sea. He tells two stories, and I find myself wondering about the ending and questioning which story is actually true. Also, there are many meanings to what the tiger represents at the end of the film. The film does not offer an answer, but rather, allows each viewer to find their own conclusions. For me, I believe the first story is the true story (even though it is the unbelievable) and the tiger at the end represents that Pi no longer needs Richard Parker to survive. Unfortunately, I did not see the film in 3D, but wish I did. Based on the 2D version, I can only imagine the awesomeness of some of the scenes, including the night scenes and scenes at sea.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5