Movie review: Life of Pi

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From the November 22, 2012 edition

I have a love-hate relationship with 3-D movies. For the handful of times it’s done right, it’s usually a distraction (and a reason for expensive tickets) for the rest.

Just when I thought I was out … they pull me back in. Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” shows that 3-D in the hands of a real artist just extends the palette he has to work with.

It also breaks another of my unofficial rules in trying to film a supposedly “unfilmable” novel. Again, it exceeds expectations.

At its core, “Life of Pi” is primarily a story of an Indian teen named Pi who is left adrift on a small lifeboat with a Bengal tiger following a shipwreck.

Pi (played by Suraj Sharma as a teen and Irrfan Khan as an adult) is a playfully challenging storyteller, and his tales of spiritual exploration and harrowing adventure give Lee a chance to make one of his most beautiful, lyrical films yet.

Lee’s gorgeous use of 3-D is an engulfing experience, and “Pi” features some of the most immersive visual effects ever seen.

The narrative setbacks of so much of the film being set adrift at sea may make for some lulls, but this is the rare film that is both family-friendly and can challenge thought.