After some deliberation I have decided that Ang Lee's Life of Pi is quite an achievement. Astounding CGI/3D visuals from DP Claudio Miranda (some of the cleverest use of 3D I have seen to date), with a resonating balance of weighty themes (science v. religion, primal instinct v. the presence of an animal soul, faith v. rationality) and an endearing against-odds companionship. I took some early issue with the storytelling method, but once Pi (Suraj Sharma, excellent) ends up at sea alone on a lifeboat with a zebra, hyena, orangutan and a Bengal tiger after the ship transporting his family and their zoo sinks, I was immediately immersed into the extraordinary tale. The book-ending, which involves an older Pi telling his story to a young journalist is not as successful as the survival story at the core, but ultimately serve the purpose of introducing us to Pi's interest in religion and his established faith, and his reflection on his experiences with clarified purity. Even the much-debated ending (*tears*) worked for me. Coined an 'unfilmable' book (which I have not read), it is hard to imagine a more universally accessible film stemming from the pages. The 3D creates a stunning canvas of jaw-dropping moments, and Lee continues to prove he is a masterful visual storyteller.
My Rating: ★★★★ (B+)