The Oscar-winning director of such films as Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon returns with his adaptation of Yann Martel‘s Life of Pi. It’s the simple enough tale of a boy lost at sea with a Bengal tiger, and some other stuff happens too.
BRYAN: My first question for you, sir: 3D or 2D?
ADAM: I refuse to pay extra for 3D. I don’t like it.
BRYAN: Alright. Well, I did see it in 3D, and I’ll just say the film uses it very well. It’s not quite as necessary as it was in Hugo, but it was good. I think it helps the look of the film, because it isn’t meant to be realistic looking and the 3D sort of aids in the artificiality.
ADAM: Then I’m really glad I didn’t see it in 3D, cause I already hated how artificial everything looks in 2D.
BRYAN: Even though that is the look it was going for?
ADAM: Yes, even though that’s the look they were going for, I hated the way it looked.
BRYAN: Okay. See, I was about to say that the visual effects and the cinematography were the best things about the movie.
ADAM: I know you were.
BRYAN: You know nothing, Jon Snow. I mean… you don’t agree?
ADAM: Mmmm… nope, can’t do it. I hated the way it looked. I hate how fake it all looked. Either make it look real or make a cartoon.
BRYAN: When I saw footage on my TV I didn’t care for the look, but on the big screen, in 3D, it played.
ADAM: The first time I saw the trailer was on a big screen, and it looked off-putting and fake then too.
BRYAN: Even the vfx? That tiger is crazy good work.
ADAM: They made a great cartoon tiger.
BRYAN: Oh, you… so clever. Moving past that question. Had you read the book before? And what did you think of the story?
ADAM: I haven’t read the book. And I probably won’t, since I wasn’t particularly engaged by the story.
BRYAN: I tend to enjoy a good survival tale. And I liked this one. It also has that extra layer of spirituality. What’s not to like?
BRYAN: Actor or character?
ADAM: They never got me to like Pi. Character.
BRYAN: He is kind of blank, but that didn’t bug me that much. The actor does a good enough job. He mostly has to act tired or scared. Only time I could have used a better talent was that monologue at the end. He gets it out, but someone else could have knocked it out of the park.
ADAM: But going back to what you just said, I enjoy a good survival tale too. I just don’t think it’s a good survival tale, for a couple reasons: you already know that Pi survives and… everything looks fake!
BRYAN: Ah, but I would counter that the look and him surviving don’t diminish the tale because they are part of the film’s conceit. This is a harrowing struggle for survival, with a Tiger no less, but it plays almost like a fantasy film, and it is that way for a reason.
ADAM: Yeah, which is another reason I hated it. The ending of this movie reminds me of the end of Savages… “but that’s just how I imagined it…” Bullshit.
BRYAN: First off, I haven’t seen Savages. So double spoilers dude. Come on!
ADAM: It’s not a spoiler. And don’t see Savages.
BRYAN: Second, I like how it pays off the religious stuff. I was wary of where it was going to take all the “make you believe” stuff, but this way works for me. It’s vague and you can take what you want from it. Did you like anything?
ADAM: I liked when it was over.
BRYAN: Come on, one thing.
ADAM: Nope. I didn’t like this movie.
BRYAN: Alright, well more things you hated that I can possibly defend?
ADAM: You can’t defend why I didn’t like this movie. It’s just not my cup of tea.
BRYAN: But why? What else was “bad”?
ADAM: Everything. To me, everything about this movie is bad.
BRYAN: Stop being general!
ADAM: You can’t argue my taste. It’s my taste. This movie is not my taste. I hate how fake it looks. I hate all the spiritual mumbo jumbo. I hate its core. And I didn’t need to see it. I wish I saw something else instead of seeing this just to be able to talk about it.
BRYAN: Alright then. Well. I thought it was rousing with gorgeous imagery. Some very memorable sequences. The interview/narration scenes were flat but the only way to get to the final moments, and Khan acts the hell out of them. It had the best special effects I’ve seen all year. Not everything worked, but the wonder is there. As for the mumbo jumbo, I think in the end it is trying to say that faith or believing doesn’t just make for more interesting stories but may also save your life. That can work for some or not, but it’s not a bad idea.
ADAM: If I were writing a solo review of Life of Pi, I would call it “Big Empty,” that’s how this film comes off to me. It’s a faith-based facade, a sham spectacle, a sermon masquerading as an adventure film. And no, sir, I don’t like it.