Film: Life of Pi underwhelms

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December 7th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Can an adaptation of an allegory based book work on the big screen? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at Life of Pi.

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Ryan: I mostly hate biopics, but I was willing to make an exception for Life of Pi, which I assumed was the dramatic retelling of how the Boston Cream Pie grew to be known as a pie and not a cake.

Matt: Alas, your lust for talking pastry-based films remains unrequited, as this was director Ang Lee’s adaptation of the beloved novel, which many had deemed unfilmable.

Ryan: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, so long as Adam Sandler keeps writing scripts that get turned into movies, nothing is unfilmable. Here, Ang Lee takes an allegorical story and heaps on the visual splendor in an effort to stave off the fact that nothing really happens for long stretches of time.

Life of Pi, by director Ang Lee, is based on the book of the same name by Yann Martel.

Matt: We meet Pi, which is not his real name, as a young man whose family owns a zoo. While transporting their animals by boat, they are shipwrecked, and Pi is the only survivor. Well, the only human survivor, as a few creatures make it to the life raft, most notably a tiger named Richard Parker.

Ryan: Of course, Pi and Richard Parker experience the kind of tension in their relationship that only comes from one of them being a murderous animal with a hunger for flesh. But a bond is formed. Of course, this is all a story that’s being told by an older version of Pi, whose narrative may not be all it seems.

Matt: The movie, and book I assume, is a celebration of storytelling that questions whether meaning and truth are always bound together. It uses obvious metaphors and allegories, but does feature an ending worth some discussion.

Ryan: Some. My biggest problem was that the pretty visuals…weren’t all that pretty or original for that matter. I mean, they were fine. Ang Lee can shoot a heck of a movie, but at no point did I hit that wow factor.

Matt: Yeah, while I was never out-and-out bored, I did find myself wishing things along a bit faster, which I suppose is what you’d feel if you were stuck on a boat with a tiger who wants to eat you.

Ryan: Considering that the movie sets the stakes for itself pretty high, with a writer asking an older Pi to tell him a story that will supposedly “make him believe in God,” anything less than a holy experience means it kinda fell short.

Matt: It definitely has appeal to a wide audience and will be embraced by many for its nebulous spirituality, but it won’t have a place on my top 10 list.

Ryan: Mine either. It’s not a dismissal so much as it is indifference, as Life of Pi is just okay for me. Now, whip something up with a talking Cheesecake, and you have my attention.

Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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