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on 17 July 2013
The Life of Pi was well worth the wait. I've watched it twice now, and is one of those films you will never tire of. Ang Lee has brought us many great films, but this must be one of his best works ever. It is not only visually stunning, but also will leave you wondering. Was it all an allegory?
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VINE VOICEon 5 May 2013
Towards the beginning of Ang Lee's adaptation of Yan Martell Life of Pi, Pi of the title, is talking to a Writer and interestingly says something like "I will tell you my story, how much you believe is true is up to you". This is your first clue as to the book and films intention. If you believe in something that doesn't mean it's true, and if something is true you may choose not to believe in it. Truth and belief are at best strange bedfellows and at worst mortal enemies.

We are then presented with the film in a series of flashback as Pi tells the story and the writer listens. This truly fantastical tale of shipwrecks and a man eating Tiger is told with stylised and genuinely stunning imagery, literally dripping with an over saturated vivid colour palette. This is the second clue. Are we watching a dream or someone's version of another truth? The question in my head is this, whose version of this tale are we seeing, the listener or the teller. Is the teller remembering the real truth or what he believes is the truth? Is the listener embellishing for his own ends? Are truth and belief being mixed up or is that how it always is?

Life of Pi is just stunning, even the simple opening credit sequence is a joy and full of sly humour. The flashback dissolves are inventive and connect the now with the then beautifully. The Computer Generated Imagery is almost too good; it really is very difficult to work out what is real and what is not. Apparently only a very few shots of Richard Parker (the Tiger) are real, the rest is CGI. The script is beautifully written and the screenplay is well balanced. The acting is first class without exception and the direction is never less than interesting.

Life of Pi is not for everyone, taken at face value, and lots of people and reviewers have done just that, you will think it's a daft tale about a boy and a Tiger. If you can see past the obvious, read between the lines and see it as a tale about the human condition, you will enjoy a wonderful film that explores the murky world of belief and its relationship, if it has one, to the truth.

Out of 67 reviews on this site 50 have given the film 4 or 5 stars. With huge grosses worldwide and excellent reviews in the press and winning 4 Oscars, Life of Pi is assured a place in the top five films of the year.
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on 29 June 2013
A magical piece of storytelling with wonderful scenery and camera work that deserves being seen on Blu-ray. You know that there must have been some technological manufacturing of the tiger and other creatures at times, but it was so ingeniously done that you are allowed to just believe it was real and you really feel you are in the boat with Pi. We watched it as a family (10 to 65 years) and it was enjoyed by all, on different levels. The last 15 minutes contained a clever twist that turned a story into something more haunting and mysterious and left us discussing it at length, with each of us drawing different conclusions. Though we only saw it 3 weeks ago we are going to watch it again tonight.
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on 7 March 2013
Having seen the movie first in 3D, I was completely blown away by pretty much every aspect; the story itself, the format it was portrayed on screen, the effects and most of all, the fact that it is unlike any other film out at the moment. I started the book a week or so after and liked how certain things were changed for the movie (the romance) but how they managed to still maintain the raw overall story from the book and how not everything was lost on it's way from the book to the screen. Most people would say when it comes to any movie that you should read the book first. However for me with this particular story I'm glad I saw the movie first because having knowing what the ending was I was able to analyze in detail as I was reading by using the ending as a reference point, otherwise I probably would have had to read it all again to get a clearer understanding.
I would highly recommend this book and DVD to anyone who is looking for something groundbreakingly different.

And by the way, after I finished the book I went to see it again in the cinema ;D
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on 14 December 2012
Life of Pi begins with Pi, now a middle aged man meeting with a novelist in his home in Canada. The novelist had been writing in India when he scrapped his work, deciding to start over. By meeting Pi's `uncle', he hears about an amazing story which he instantly thinks could work as a novel. Pi begins to tell the novelist about his life in India and how he came to live in Canada. The beginning of the film sets the scene perfectly by showing how Pi grew up, where he got his name from and also how he and his family lived.

As the story continues, Pi grows up a bit, finds religion and love and his life is extremely interesting. He definitely doesn't have the normal life of any other boy in India. I really enjoyed the actors who play Pi throughout the film but especially Suraj Sharma who plays the role for the most part of the film. At age 16, Pi and his family want to move to Canada and this is where the film gets interesting. Their ship hits a massive storm and Pi finds himself all alone in the sea - apart from a zebra, orangutan and a Bengal tiger. The young man playing this role really throws himself into it and is able to really show emotion well. Being stuck in the middle of nowhere, not knowing how he is going to survive, fear was his first feeling. Along the way, sadness, hope, loss of hope and anticipation also kick in.

Pi encounters all kinds of problems while at sea, mostly with Richard Parker, the Bengal tiger who is determined to make the boat his own home. Obviously, he does eventually make it back to land otherwise he wouldn't be telling his story to someone else, so while a large amount of the film is set at sea, not all of it is. The changes in setting were great and really broke up the monotony of seeing the same thing for such a long length of time. The whole story is beautifully told and made me feel a whole range of things while watching it.

In 3D, this film is a visual masterpiece. I'm not normally the biggest fan of 3D but with this film, I think you would miss out on a whole lot if you didn't see it this way. With the bright and beautiful colours of India mixed with the exotic animals in the zoo and Pi's life when he is at sea, there is so much to look at, at all times during this film. You can experience tiny birds flying out into the cinema, feeling like they are flapping their wings right in front of your face. The 3D effects on this film were so fantastic that I even jumped a few times because things ended up looking as though they were straight in front of my face. I don't think I have ever, or will see again for a long time, a film as visually stunning as this one.

Although not a complex story, or a film with a massive cast, Life of Pi is one of the best films I have seen this year. It is a film that will make you feel things you won't expect, react at things you would never think of reacting to and it is also just a wonderful story.
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Months ago I pre-ordered the 2D Blu-ray of this Ang Lee movie (who won the Best Director Oscar for his efforts) on the strength of a couple of laudatory reviews, despite not having read the book that it is based on nor knowing much about the story.

Having just watched it in HD for the first time I was very impressed and intend to watch it again many times (and have now ordered the book to see how it differs/expands on the film).

On 2D Blu-ray this film looks superb and I'm quite sure properly presents the notably accomplished cinematography, truly groundbreaking special-effects and sound to their best; this film is an astounding 'feast' for the eyes and ears.

Based on the aforementioned book of the same name, the plot of 'Life of Pi' (why it isn't actually 'THE Life of Pi' I'm not sure !) is quite straightforward - but the story itself includes so much more than what is outlined AND pictured on the disc box (so it is hardly a spoiler !) :

"A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor--a fearsome Bengal tiger."

For starters, the events in that synopsis only start some way into the film and then they do not take up the rest of the running time.....

What else occurs is just as relevant and very often equally as impressive (and occasionally disturbing....); and that starts right at the beginning with the opening credits, which include some wonderful animation touches to the text, complementing the gorgeous musical soundtrack and pictures we see. Then the story begins proper with an introduction and then what often contains delightful 'vignettes' of life in India (an improvement on 'Slumdog Millionaire'), before moving to the main theme where the 'cinematic experience' is elevated to even higher levels.

However, to say much more WOULD be a spoiler BUT about the story itself, I think it is pertinent to observe that whilst it initially has a claim from one character that it will "make you believe in God"', it is immediately qualified by Pi himself (the person mentioned in the synopsis) who states "you decide for yourself what you believe" and then ultimately the significance of what we then see and hear in the rest of the film is summarised by Pi again, with him stating "if it happened it happened, why does it have to mean anything ?". So, no opinions are forthcoming from me - just facts; you, like me, are left to make your own mind up.....

Aside from mentioning that I think that the 'story' is fantastic (in every sense of the word), emotional, rich and vivid the only other opinion I can offer is about the cinematic aspects, which are as already hinted superb. There may be a couple of minor blemishes, where the dialogue is clearly ADR and not in keeping with the surroundings (ie the voice of Pi sounds the same inside a room as it does for sometime after he is in the open air) and also where I was distracted by the screen aspect changing (anomalies due to 3D 'complications' in some scenes I believe) - but that is nitpicking really. The real accomplishment in 'Life of Pi' is with the CGI of various animals, most notably with (of course !) the Tiger, to supplement the real-life views of the same animals.

The technical wizardry achieved here is astounding and has to be seen to be believed - never before have I seen CGI where it is completely indistinguishable from reality. There were occasions where the tail of the Tiger didn't look quite right, but to be honest the rendering is so good I am probably sceptical about certain scenes where the Tiger was in fact real - it is that good ! The special-effects detail (the surroundings as well as animals) is so proficient that it ensures the entire story and film 'works', 100% - anything less and the 'Life of Pi' magic would be lost; all supplemented by a superb lead-acting role and excellent musical soundtrack.

*** My only reservation is with the viewing classification. 'Life of Pi' is rated 'PG', which considering that implies 'A PG film should not disturb a child aged around eight or older' I think is too 'low'. Aspects of the story and dialogue are in my opinion quite adult-orientated and many scenes are MORE than the 'Contains mild language and threat' guidance as stated on the disc box. How ever many delights there are in this film I really don't think it is for children.

On Blu-ray all these aspects are presented superbly with a flawless, bright and sharp image and sumptuous dts-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack, no complaints from me. And for once the extras are fairly decent, with an enlightening production featurette running for over an hour (it's split into 4 sections) which only dips into the 'usual' sugary back-slapping/complimentary 'talking head' type, that we all too often are served up, in the final section. There is also a short (TOO short) feature on the Tiger CGI aspects, storyboards, a picture gallery but also unfortunately a dedicated sugary back-slapping/complimentary 'talking head' type featurette - best ignored and which adds nothing to the main featurette....

'Life of Pi' at it's most basic level is a story that "if it happened it happened, why does it have to mean anything ?" BUT is elevated to legendary status by being so novel and magnificently presented in this film. Comparatively speaking, the flaws are miniscule - leaving us (ie me !) with a truly wonderful and memorable cinematic experience which WILL provoke repeat-viewing as it also looks and sounds so good on Blu-ray.

Now having watched 'Life of Pi' I'm even more astounded that the lamentable 'Argo' (also reviewed by me on Amazon) won the Best Picture Oscar...

The UK disc is labelled as All-Region and the available 'languages' are far more copious than listed on the disc box :

Eng dts-HD MA 7.1
Eng Desc 5.1
Spanish DD 5.1
Castellano DTS 5.1
Portuguese DD 5.1
+ more but the description is in the native language which I cannot interpret !

English Hearing Impaired
again + more but the description is in the native language which I cannot interpret !
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Ang Lee has a fine record for making unusual films, and from `Eat Drink Man Woman' through `Hulk' to `Brokeback Mountain' has proven to be the antithesis of a formulaic director. True to form, his film of Yann Martel's "un-filmable" book `Life of Pi' is a triumph of cinematography and storytelling. The underlying themes of God-evidenced-in-Nature and the victory of the human spirit in adversity are very well realised by Lee's narrative structure and editing, and the film is a feast for the eyes and the mind.

The story is told in first-person narrative with Pi as narrator, his character played by four different actors as he ages. The excellent young Suraj Sharma takes the lion's share (tiger's share?) as the 16-year old Pi in the film's main sequence when adrift on the Pacific with Bengal tiger Richard Parker following a shipwreck. Sharma (picked from 3,000 actors who auditioned for the part) delivers a convincing performance of fear, struggle, cool intelligence & courage, and gradually masters his hostile environment and terrible predicament, growing spiritually on the journey as he asserts dominance over the tiger so that they might both survive. Although for safety reasons the tiger and Sharma were filmed separately, you will absolutely believe in the terrifying visceral power of their face-to-face confrontations and in their developing relationship.

The wildlife in the film looks superb and the wild animals behave exactly like wild animals, red in tooth and claw. There's no sentimentality here, and the viewer is never spared the cruelties of nature. For this reason the film may be disturbing to young children despite its often enchanting visual content.

The Blu-ray 3D release contains a documentary film (itself in 3D) about the making of the film in which Lee explains how he conceived the film from the beginning as a 3D experience for the audience, and that this is the medium in which it needs to be seen. There's a lot of detail here for film buffs.

Some have chosen to nit-pick at details of the film and a few have disliked it; it may be that for those viewers this is just not the kind of story that floats their boat, so to speak. `Life of Pi' strives to explore deeper territory than the average Hollywood fare, in a highly original way. Lee succeeds in discussing the philosophy of religion; is there a creator and where can we experience evidence of it in nature? This is quite a difficult trick to pull off in a 127-minute film whilst entertaining the audience at the same time, but Lee's rare talent does just about manage it - and with a sting in the tail, too: at the end of the day, which story do you prefer?
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on 1 May 2013
Outstanding cinematography and genuinely ground-breaking CGI place this film in a category of its own. It's extraordinarily slow to start with, and the development of the plot is languid, to say the least. It starts by examining the early years of Pi, and it's here we learn how he acquires his name. This is narrated in flashback by his adult self and is carefully paced, with exquisite detail - one of Lee's trademarks.

About half the film takes place at sea, with only two characters: our eponymous hero and the Tiger. It has to be said at the outset that the two hardest things in the film world are creating realistic sea conditions and making a cgi of a living creature, with which most people are already familiar. The film has achieved both these feats, with a Tiger that's completely real and a sea that has you wondering whether it truly is cgi. Much of the sea effect is down to Lee's imaginative decision to build a much larger tank than films normally use, and to create breakwaters within the tank to stop the waves behaving like a child's paddling pool.

Throughout, there's an air of unreality pervading everything; the floating island sequence is simply astonishing and possibly unique while the sequences featuring flying fish and an enormous whale are little short of breathtaking. But the philosophical dream-like air prepares the audience nicely to the film's ultimate denouement. And that is exceptionally well done.

It's not an action film by any means, but if you enjoy a gently paced and beautifully shot film , with the first large movie water tank that manages to produce waves which don't appear to be on a duck pond, then this is for you.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 9 May 2013
What more can you say about a film that has won oscars for direction, as well as its ground-breaking effects and is based on an award-winning book that has sold millions?

Well now we can see this as many times as we like, at our leisure in the 3D version that Ang Lee intended and designed. This 2-disc 3D version of the Blu Ray, has several extras and in the impressive "making of" documentary, it is explained how they designed everything for 3D presentation and did all the editing in 3D - which is quite unusual - but it certainly deserves to be seen in this medium.

Ang Lee has created a true work of art - an incredible visual feast, which makes the most of all the resources used in its long 4-year production time. You can of course, watch this in 2D and still be impressed by the beauty of the images - but 3D adds to the immersive feel of truly being there and allows you to suspend your disbelief - which is what this is all about of course.

The "extras" detail the huge amount of work that went into the creation of the live action and then the digital post-production which went into CGI that possibly for the first time, seems genuinely to have us believing in it. We do believe that a bengal tiger is in the boat and we do feel the huge presence of the Pacific depths. The unusual thing about the extras is that some are actually presented in 3D as well - usually it is only the feature that gets this treatment. But here Ang Lee is keen to show us how the CGI was matched seamlessly to the live action, to create a world of magical realism.

All of the technical achievements detailed in the various extras wouldn't matter much though, if this was not a good film and it was just a shallow attention-grabber. But this is a truly wonderful and unusual story - looking at the philosophy of religion and the meaning of faith. Inspired by the beauty and spirituality of parts of India - where ancient temples are populated by spectacular wild life. Every moment and every phrase has a meaning - whether allegorical or literal.

We have Pi's life before and after, which is dedicated to religion - all religion - whether Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish or Islam. But at the centre of the book and film, is the experience which created "Faith" - Yann Martell has said in interviews that his book is about faith and the film with its super-realism, allows us to examine this experience and how it leads Pi to believe in God. The film is of course much shorter and less-detailed than the book - but it has all the essential elements distilled into a few hours of intense experience.

Having this on Blu Ray allows you to replay and re-examine the elements of allegory and how they are interwoven into the story - what does the Tiger represent - what of the Meerkat island and its impossible, perfectly circular lakes - what do they mean? What does the flower with a human tooth represent? This is a film that stands up to re-examination and can even just be viewed as something of a 3D painting - maybe a 3D Turner - in its images of the sea and sky. Coming to faith is a personal experience or journey for every person and this is just one perspective, one story and is nothing to do with organised religion - just one person's story.

Many critics have seen this as the film of the year and this is certainly worth owning in this spectacularly good Blu Ray transfer, with all the extras that add to your understanding of the film and what went into its creation. Possibly the best example of 3D film-making yet - highly recommended
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on 19 July 2016
The title of this film never seemed to get me interested enough watch it until UHD Blu-ray came along and that's another story. Picture quality is stunning and the story held me from start to finish. The scenes that stood out for me were the tea plantations, the storm at sea the flying fish and meercat island. UHD Blu-ray with HDR makes TV interesting again and the wait was worth it. Brilliant film outstanding picture quality and a great story plus end-credit music make it a great buy. In the case is 1 Ultra HD disc and 1 Blu-ray disc. Also, watch the making of the Life of Pi it's very interesting.
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