Life of Pi

20:24, Jan 06 2013

For many, this is the first day back at work after the festive break.

A lot of you will have swapped sunshine for fluorescent lights, jandals for office shoes and the swell of the ocean for the hum of air conditioning.

It's not the best feeling in the world, is it?

It reminds me, as so much does, of a line from The Simpsons. Bart has broken his leg and so will have to spend his summer indoors:

Bart: Aw, I'm going to miss the whole summer.

Homer: Don't worry, boy. When you get a job like me, you'll miss every summer.


Altogether now - sigh.

Though, to be honest, I enjoy nothing better than escaping a hot sunny day by slipping into the cool, dark and cosy confines of a cinema.

Summer is wasted on someone with my ginger colourings. Direct sunlight is my kryptonite. It burns, oh how it burns. As Woody Allen once said: "I don't tan, I stroke." I hear you, Woody.

If I have to be on the beach, you will find me beneath a sun umbrella, my pasty legs swaddled in a towel, a large hat on my head, shades and a shell-like layer of factor million sun cream.

So, like Brad Pitt in Interview with the Vampire, the cinema allows me to look at sunshine without burning up.

One of my vampiric trips to the cinema over the summer break was for Life of Pi in 3D.

I enjoyed Life of Pi, but felt it had quite a few faults.

Once the main character is on his lifeboat with the tiger, it really kicks into gear. It's visually stunning, utterly involving and really quite gripping. But everything around that centrepiece falls a little flat.

It is a movie with a rather marvellous middle act bookended by some wooden and clunky exposition, where everything is spelt out clearly for the hard of thinking.

The opening act about the boy's childhood in an Indian zoo should have been rambunctious and full of life, rather like the early scenes in Slumdog Millionaire. But, instead of our hero's lively childhood among zoo animals, we get a series of rather leaden scenes where the theme of the movie is spelt out in the least subtle terms possible. Instead of a child daydreaming about the gods among exotic animals, we get lectures from a father. There were some visually splendid moments and the 3D was used to full effect, but the film only comes to life when the storm hits the liner.

From that moment, the film steps up a gear and is utterly captivating. Richard Parker the tiger is incredibly well realised, the staging and camerawork is all perfectly handled and I was drawn inexorably into the small but immense world of a boy lost at sea.

So, Life of Pi is an uneven film. It is not a resounding success, but it certainly has its moments. I think it needed a director with a ragged lust for life rather than a formal and carefully controlled director like Ang Lee. Someone like Danny Boyle would have made a more engaging and less stolid film. Life of Pi is reminiscent of his own 127 Hours and is material I think he could have made sing.

Well, I hope this blog has at least provided a distraction for you as you soldier through your first day back at the grindstone. It could be worse. You could be trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger.

But what did you think of Life of Pi? Did it live up to the book? Did you enjoy it? Post below.

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