Life of Pi
Like Martin Scorsese's Hugo and Steven Spielberg's Adventures of Tintin from last year, Ang Lee's Life of Pi is a cinematic masterpiece that pushes so many technical boundaries that its awesomeness nearly overwhelms the wonderful human story all of the wizardry should be supporting. Life of Pi, based on the novel by Yann Martel, tells the story of an Indian lad named Piscene (newcomer Suraj Sharma) who is the only member of his family to survive the capsizing of a freighter transporting them and the family's zoo to markets across the Pacific. Pi eventually finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a territorial Bengal tiger named Richard Parker (the name given to many literary shipwreck victims). I've not studied the trades to see how Lee was able to coax such a wonderful performance out of Sharma's co-star but the tiger is stunning and the two of them are worth the price of the ticket. Because the narrative is told in flashback, the film's mystery is not whether Pi survives but what he has to do to keep body and soul together. And speaking of soul, the film is steeped in Eastern spiritualism, which is refreshing, but its message of faith, loss and redemption is universal. Young children might be frightened by a couple of scenes of animal predation and the early 20 minutes of storm seas in a lifeboat might make some viewers quesy. Highly recommended -- especially in 3D.