Life of Pi is a true masterpiece, and is one of the most visually stunning films I have seen. Director Ang Lee has done what many thought could not be done, he turned the best-selling novel into a larger-than-life work of art. The movie looked fantastic on the big screen in 3D, and the Blu-ray looks unbelievably amazing. 20th Century Fox released the Blu-ray last week, and I had the chance to review.
I haven’t read the novel by Yann Martel, but have heard that this is one of the best book-to-movie adaptations for a long time. David McGee penned the script that tells the story of Pi Patel, zookeeper’s son. Pi is uprooted from his home in Pondicherry, India, when his father decides to move to their zoo to Canada. The family catches a ride on an ocean freighter along with the animals, imagine a modern-day Noah’s Ark. When a massive storm rocks the freighter, the boat sinks, and Pi finds himself one of the only survivors. He is all alone in a lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a ferocious Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The film shows the spiritual and emotional journey that Pi takes along with these animals.
Life of Pi features the wonderful cast of Irfan Khan, Suraj Sharma, Gérard Depardieu, and Rafe Spall. Despite the lack of an A-list celebrity in the lead, the film would not be the same without Sharma in the lead. Khan is great in The Amazing Spider-Man, and is equally strong here as well.
Ang Lee has not directed such a grand film since the highly-underrated Hulk. Life of Pi is perfect for Lee’s broad strokes as a director. He is able to capture so much emotion with very little dialogue. The first act has a lot of dialogue between Pi and his family, but the second and third act has very few lines. Don’t worry, it is impossible for you to get bored because of how beautiful the oceanic environment is.
The Blu-ray did a great job of immersing my wife and I in our home theater, making us feel as though we were in the boat with Pi. I am not a huge fan of most 3D, but Life of PI is one film I thoroughly enjoyed in that format. Lee shot Life of Pi using Am-Alexa cameras, which allows for it to be just as multi-dimensional in 2D as in 3D. There are only two scenes on the disc that will catch you off guard picture wise. The aspect ratio changes unexpectedly from 1.85:1 to 2.35:1 during the eye-catching “flying fish” scene. In another scene it changes to a ratio of 1.33:1. Most Blu-ray releases feature a standard 5.1 sound track, but Life of Pi features a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 that blasts you from all directions. The roaring of the ocean during the storm, the sounds of the animals, and the dialogue all sound great.
Life of Pi is a great addition to your Blu-ray collection. The disc includes the following HD special features:
- A Filmmaker’s Epic Journey: Not many Blu-rays can tout over an hour-long documentary, The four-part making-of documentary shows the four-year filming process, and covers everything from the adaptation of the novel, filming, and the lengthy post-production process. The documentaries includes interviews with the cast, and focuses heavily on Ang Lee and newcomer Sharma.
- A Remarkable Vision: The award winning visual effects are spectacular. Bill Westerhofer and the team at Rhythm and Hues visual effects show how they were able to make the film look realistic.
- Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: This feature focuses on the CGI used to create the tiger with the help of a real-life tiger.
- Gallery: The feature gives a peak at the pre-production art, which you can watch in an auto-play slideshow.
- Storyboards: The feature shows the storyboards used for seven of the big scenes in the film.
If you have not seen this Academy-Award winning movie, buy it on the spot. Life of Pi is a big and beautiful spectacle that is perfect for the whole family.