BLU-RAY REVIEW: Life of Pi
A Gorgeous Spiritual Journey Hits Hi-Def Home Video...
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It's really no wonder Life of Pi won so many Academy Awards earlier this month, including Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Musical Score, Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects. The film is simply too gorgeous to go unnoticed. And while the story, while heart wrenching, mind boggling, and soul stretching, will seem too contrived to be believable, it's exactly that which makes the film and story so engrossing and enjoyable.
For those unfamiliar with the award-winning 2001 novel by Yann Martel, the film does an impressive job of adapting a brutal and tragic tale which, in the third act of the book, becomes almost all too personal and damaging to the young Pi, who is throughout the book - and film - retelling his experience of life aboard a lifeboat struggling to survive the open waters following a shipwreck which claimed the lives of his family and the boat's crew. The story itself shows an interesting development in the faith of the character, who must - above all things - never give up hope. It is the reoccurring theme throughout the story that proves to be almost unbearable as the young Pi is forced to endure the unspeakable, all the while coping in the best way he knows how.
Interestingly enough, Pi's endurance, courage, faith and hope manifest themselves in Richard Parker, a Bengal Tiger who endures the open ocean with the teen following the tragedy at sea. It is the pair's unique relationship which proves to be one of the most enduring and engaging character relationships captured on screen in quite some time. Both friend and foe, confidant and mortal enemy, the duo depend on one another and yet would no doubt feel safer without their opposite. Thankfully, this relationship transfers to the screen well and is captured, helping bring to life both Pi and Richard Parker.
The video is simply gorgeous, captured in 1080p brings to life the precious beauty of India, the frightening dangers of the open seas, and the majestic escapades of the underwater world beneath their surface. Truly breathtaking at times, the film's visuals bring to life a world drenched in imagination. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track delivers an impressive, dynamic and inspiring audio mix. The weather bombards viewers from every angle. The seas rage, the animals roar and scream, the currents rip and tear and we're engulfed in a world that is not our own. The dialogue is never difficult to distinguish from the front speakers and bass is steady, solid and resonates throughout.
As for bonus features, the set includes a variety which should impress die-hard fans of director Ang Lee. Included are the 1 hour+ "A Filmmaker's Epic Journey," which - in four parts - explores the making of the film from adaptation and concept to post-production effects and more; the nearly 20 minute "A Remarkable Vision," which features visual effects supervisor Bill Westerhofer and other effects team members as they discuss the film's effects; and the 8+ minute "Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright," which discusses bringing the Bengal Tiger character to life using both live animals and CGI effects. Lastly, the film's storyboards and a photo gallery show artwork from the film's various scenes as well as pre-production art that'll impress fans of behind-the-scenes material.
Life of Pi is, for all intents and purposes, a film about finding faith in an irrational reality. Tragic, terrible things happen and while we may not be able to explain them, we will have to deal with the consequences if we want to continue living. Whether it's through faith or reason that we find the answers and whether it is this film that helps us find the pash, there's one thing for certain: Life of Pi is one of the most gorgeous and impressive films of 2012 and is sure to be a favorite on DVD and blu-ray hi-def.
- Jess C. Horsley