It certainly sounds like something that the Oscars would dig: A young boy is stranded in a life boat in the middle of the ocean with only a Bengal tiger for company. Some would call it riveting, a 14 year old would refer to it as not exactly the most thrilling premise.
Unsurprisingly, this movie is about the life of Pi. The first half is him growing up, all building up to when he gets stranded. These are the most entertaining parts of the movie, mainly because all my issues come later on. Anyway, his family owns a zoo, but they decide to move to Canada and start up the zoo again. So they get on the cruise ship and… from the earlier premise I gave you, chances are you have an idea what happens next. The cruise capsizes, Pi gets stuck with some animals (most of which don’t last the whole movie) and soon enough, it’s him and the Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker fighting for control of the boat.
Director Ang Lee certainly nails the feeling of isolation very well (thanks in part to some very effective shots) but the story has one big flaw. The movie begins with a writer interviewing an adult Pi for his life story, and while they’re entertaining, there’s a major drawback to having these scenes: We know he’s not going to die. We know he’ll get back to land, and thus, all tension is gone. The movie then becomes a waiting game, I was waiting for when he got back to land, because I knew he had to. Because of this, the movie became a drag, especially when an entire HOUR is just him on the boat, trying to survive.
I also found the CG to be distractingly fake. It’s not terrible, but my eyes are programmed to notice when something’s animated, or behind a green screen. This is an issue I have with most movies, and I highly doubt this topic won’t come up again in future reviews. I obviously wasn’t expecting them to get a real tiger, but when a good chunk of the film has the tiger in it, it’s hard for me not to notice.
It’s not a bad movie, but it’s also not really my cup of tea. As a film to start this project with, it was an interesting beginning, but the best is definitely yet to come.