It's a rare and usually a pretty good sign that a movie is pretty good when it's released on DVD & Blu-Ray while it is still playing in movie theaters . With 11 Academy Award nominations at his past year's Oscars, "Life of Pi" is a stunning visual masterpiece that is just as delightful on the small screen as it is on the big one.
Based on the best-selling novel by Yann Martel, "Life of Pi" is a magical adventure story centering on Pi Patel, the precocious son of a zookeeper who spends his formative years discovering as much as he can about as many religions as he possibly can. Dwellers of Pondicherry, India, the family decides to sell the zoo and move to Canada to start a new life, hitching a ride on a huge freighter. After a catastrophic shipwreck, Pi is found adrift in the Pacific Ocean on a 26-foot lifeboat with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450-pound Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, all fighting for survival.
Leaning on the tag line that "It has to be seen to be believed", I can say that with the ad campaign for "Life of Pi" there is some real truth in advertising. Ang Lee successful took the book that many people said was simply not filmable and turned it into a sumptuous tale that can be enjoyed by all age brackets. With a colour spectrum plucked straight from our imaginations, Ang Lee has crafted a sage, emotional tale about a boy's coming of age in the face of tragedy and crisis while trying to hold on to his spirituality. The narrative while admittedly a little loose at times moves at a healthy pace and to his credit Lee always manages to keep the stunning visuals and magnificent things we see on the screen as we track young Pi's journey for survival and David Magee's adaptation of the book keeps the viewer on point and always in the moment. And as Pi's adventures keep getting more and more incredible the film never asks you for one single second to question it, it just wants to wrap you up in this warm fantasy adventure and take you along for the ride.
While less a film about the performances and more about the overall experience, the ensemble cast did a fine job with the material. Suraj Sharma as the young Pi, kept us engaged and puts us right beside him as he tries to find not only himself but ultimately rescue as well. Irrfan Khan as the elder Pi carried the character with a real sense of dignity and wisdom about being 100 percent secure about his place in the world and secure in his fight for survival that took place in his very own terrarium on the open sea. Everyone involved successfully makes the entire cinematic experience so mystical and fantastic yet grounded and real all at the same time.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are just top notch and the special features include three extensive behind the scenes looks at the making of the film as well as a conceptual art gallery and storyboards.
Ultimately, "Life of Pi" is not a perfect film, but Ang Lee's Oscar win for best director is well deserved because it was easily the best example of the wide variety of elements that make up a successful film and how they can be used together in the hopes of getting the best result. A marvelous collaborative effort from all involved.
4 out of 5 stars.
"Life of Pi" is now available to rent on Blu-Ray 3D, Blu-Ray or DVD at video stores all across the country as well as via all major on demand providers. You can also find it for purchase at all major retailers like amazon.ca, iTunes or HMV.