I was lucky enough to go to the Unlimited screening of the long-awaited Life of Pi a week before it is released in UK cinemas. But does it stand up to the hype of the book? Is it really the next 3D Avatar?
I read the original tale in Yann Martel‘s amazingly successful book many years ago. I adored it for it’s spirituality, it’s honesty, it’s imagination, and how it left you weeping and not completely sure what to believe.
This film has been surrounded by intrigue and expectation since the first trailer, and of course it was going to give those, like me, who had read the novel, a little trepidation as to whether it could stand up to the beauty of the first, or whether like so many book-adaptations it would flop sadly a little from the targeted brilliance.
Despite the cinema’s hiccups with the projector we eventually got to watching it. I must say it’s the first film in a long while that has had credits to start the film in such a beautiful way. Each animal popped from the screen as if you are gliding around the Botanical Garden Zoo yourself, free and wild. We gradually slipped into the main film with our narrator guiding us through India. Again I was filled with the temptation to leave our cold and bleak Britain for the warmth and colour of India (as also encouraged by the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel). Here the 3D extras worked wonderfully with the style, when Pi walks into a church it feels as if you are there with him, drinking cool water handed to you.
By the shipwreck you feel like you could get wet yourself. Here’s where things changed for me. The slowness is obviously required for someone stuck out at sea, but I felt as if it was pulled too far. I am conflicted with knowing the detail they have tried hard to pull in, but also the feeling of sitting in the same scenes again and again. The effects of diving into the deep are outstanding, the meerkats amusingly standing oblivious to danger were up close to you as with Pi, and the Tiger could stare into your very soul – or could that be my own reflection shining back at me?
Ultimately, it is beautiful as Avatar before it was also beautiful. Does it accomplish the detail and incredible feeling the book did as I pawed through its pages? I don’t know. Although I enjoyed it, wept for him, felt my lungs expand for air with each terrifying wave, there was something missing and it may take a few days to figure out what that something is.
For now I would suggest both to read, and re-read, the book and see this incredible film. It will take your breathe away, and it will both pull you to your passport and make you scared to step out of your house. I hope you love both creations as much as I did. As for me, I will return to it’s pages, and my Bible, to understand more clearly the limbo I am in.