When I first heard last year that this Yann Martel booker prize winning novel was being made into a film I was taken aback. Only one question came to mind “How on earth can this be done?!” Having read and really enjoyed the book about ten years ago my mind turned to how a story principally involving just a boy and a Bengal tiger on a boat could translate to the silver screen. Of course CGI was the answer for 86% of the film and credit has to go to novice Indian actor Suraj Sharma who must have spent most of the filming acting by himself in front of a blue screen.
I’m still not a big fan of 3D but once we get through the fairly religious-based (not in a preaching way though) beginning background segment it really gets going and you end up living the movie. This is not only down to Sharma but the 3D which is invaluable for all the thoroughly enjoyable boat scenes which were filmed in a giant wave tank built in an abandoned airport in Taiwan. It’s fair to say that “Richard Parker’s” introduction is one of the most dramatic in film history thanks in main to the 3D.
Following the events which lead to him being at sea on a boat with just a tiger for company its a tale of storytelling and survival akin to an episode of ‘Man Vs. Wild‘ which I never thought would work in film but it really doesn’t lag at all with the musical score adding great value to the production.
I may be a little slow to pick up on the meaning of things sometimes but I wasn’t too keen on the bit right at the end where the story and its symbolism is quite patronisingly spelled out as if the viewers hadn’t understood the two hours preceding it. The spiritual themes are quite simple and say more about what one wants to believe rather than any obvious connection to faith in god.
Overall, I was very relieved to see that this Ang Lee directed adaptation played fairly faithful to the book and for me its the characters (both young and old Pi and even “Richard Parker” himself) and not the scenery and effects which make this film an absorbing 127 minutes.
Tokyo Fox Rating 8/10