There is a lot that could go wrong with a big screen adaptation of Life of Pi the 2001 bestselling novel by Yaan Martel. Which may explain why the story of a young boy stranded on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger — juggling deep themes of religion family nature and human existence — has been developed and let go by many big names in Hollywood. For nearly a decade filmmakers like M. Night Shyamalan Alfonso Cuarón and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie) have grappled with the project but it wasn't until Oscar-winner Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) that the film was fully realized.
Lee's Life of Pi is an inspiring film sporting imaginative visuals and pushing the art of 3D in new directions. Even more impressive is what's underneath it all: a character-driven narrative that depicts the book's grand ideas with unexpected tenderness.
Life of Pi dreams big. Thanks to Lee's expert direction and a solid script from David Magee (Finding Neverland) the survivor tale avoids the pitfalls of such an ambitious effort never straying into hokey melodrama. The film opens with a writer (Rafe Spall) visiting an adult Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan) at his home in Canada after being told that the Indian immigrant had an amazing life story in need of capturing. "Amazing" may not be enough of a superlative. Young Pi (newcomer Suraj Sharma) begins his life as a regular kid in Pondicherry India growing up on his family's bustling zoo while attempting to fit in with the world around him. His major struggle is with religion — while his father resents faith and his mother is dedicated to Hinduism Pi wants a little of it all. He's Hindu he's Catholic he's Muslim he's a wanderer between all ways of thinking. When he attempts to feed the zoo's tiger only to be caught by his father and disciplined for considering the beast to be anything remotely soulful. It's clear that his upbringing in the lush environment has seeped deep into Pi's way of life.
The main character's passion for the world around him gives Lee the opportunity to direct Life of Pi with a painter's eye. Nearly every shot is exquisitely composed — from bold colors to camera movement to the layers of 3D. This holds true even when Pi's story takes a turn for the worse. Having run into financial troubles the Patel family packs up the animals and heads to Winnipeg on a French freighter. While crossing the Mariana Trench the ship encounters a catastrophic storm that floods it into oblivion (a moment of disaster that rivals the artistic destruction of Titanic). Pi and a few of the animal passengers escape on a lifeboat the glow of his past life slowly fading away into the depths of the Ocean. The set piece is gorgeous but Lee never forgets the impact the incident has on Pi's life. It's indicative of the entire film.
The brunt of the story focuses on the man vs. nature we've seen in films like 127 Hours and Cast Away but in an even more terrifying landscape and played out with an expressionistic touch. Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with the Bengal tiger "Richard Parker " lowering the already minuscule chance of his survival to something unimaginable. He copes building a second raft out of wood planks and life preservers but his survival is a ticking clock. All he can do is sit fish write and pray.
Lee approaches Pi's journey of floating in the middle of the Pacific with a jungle cat like a fever dream. Like the swirling universe he imagines as the residence of his various gods the deserted ocean is a luminescent wonder filled with giant whales glowing jellies flying fish and deep caverns that unlock Pi's wild imagination.
All the while Pi tends to his tiger; their brotherly relationship is the core of Life of Pi. Sharma has heavy material to tackle for his big screen debut but even with its weak moments stands as a tremendous breakout. Over time Pi loses himself to the ocean reaching for understanding and investing more and more in his feline companion. It's a physically demanding performance too — Lee always pelting something new at his young actor and Sharma shining through even the biggest wave. The tiger is another marvel a CG creation that actually performs against Sharma. If Caeser in Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a milestone Richard Parker is the next step. On top of the central duo Magee's framing device of Older Pi and the writer works miraculously well thanks to the natural skills of Khan and Spall. Exposition be damned — these two can have a casual conversation that feels as dynamic as the larger-than-life tale they're discussing.
Life of Pi arrives in theaters on November 21 and as all the makings of the perfect holiday film. On a visceral level it's simply a beautiful movie (any live-action film that evokes memories of Hokusai's "The Great Wave" is doing something right). But Lee transcends flashy blockbuster contemporaries by finding a source material where the breathtaking compliments the character's arc. Life of Pi isn't an overtly religious film even though Pi identifies with religions of all kinds. It's about the power of self the religion of humanism. There are few feats of mortal strength as impressive as survival. That's what makes Life of Pi one of the most powerful films of the year.
The first trailer for the Ang Lee-directed adaptation of the Yann Martel novel Life Of Pi gave us a quick glimpse into the rich storytelling to be brought to life in this seemingly-epic new film. Now, as a lead-up to its premiere at the New York Film Festival on Friday, a second trailer has been released on Yahoo. And while probably half of the imagery remains the same, a bigger picture is presented at twice the speed of the last. Hello sensory overload, thy name is Life Of Pi!
The sweeping new clip is set to the ethereal music of Sigur Ros, and finished up with a quick one-two punch from Coldplay's recent hit "Paradise," which adds to the clanging, dazzling beauty the trailer presents.
The film--which will surprise no one to learn is being presented in 3D--tells the story of an Indian boy named Pi and the adventures he endures after a devastating shipwreck strands him in the middle of the ocean on a teeny-tiny boat with a cavalcade of critters for 227 days.
The film stars Irfan Khan, Gérard Depardieu, Suraj Sharma and Adil Hussain.
Life Of Pi will be released on November 21st, 2012.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
'Life of Pi' First Look: A Man and a Tiger Are On a Boat... — PHOTO
'Life of Pi' Trailer: Shipwrecks and Tigers and Whales. Oh My!
New York Film Festival 2012 Line-up: 'Life of Pi,' Bill Murray's FDR and More
The Amazing Spider-Man would prefer if you didn't call it the fourth Spider-Man movie. See this ain't the Spider-Man your older brother knew from ten years ago — it's a reboot. The latest adventure to feature the comic book webslinger throws three movies worth of established mythology straight out the window swapping the original cast with an ensemble of fresh faces and resetting the franchise with a spiffy new origin story. "New" in the loosest sense of the word — the highlights of ASM mainly a sleek new design and spunky reinterpretation of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) and gal pal Gwen Stacey (Emma Stone) are weighed down by overpowering sense of familiarity. Nearly a beat for beat replica of the 2002 original with some irksome twists of mystery thrown in Amazing Spider-Man fails to evolve its hero or his quarrels. The film has a great sense of cinematic power but little responsibility in making it interesting.
We're first introduced to Peter Parker as a young boy watching as his parents rush out of the house in response to a hidden danger. Mr. and Mrs. Parker leave their son in the care of his Aunt May (Sally Fields) and Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) who raise him into Andrew Garfield's geeky cool spin on the character. Parker's a science whiz but faces the challenges of every day life — passing classes talking to girls the occasional jock with aggression issues — but all of life's woes are put on hold when the teen discovers a new clue in the mystery behind his parents' disappearance. The discovery of his dad's old briefcase and notes leads Peter to Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) a scientist working for mega-conglomerate Oscorp and his Dad's old partner. When they cross paths Connors instantly takes a liking to the wunderkind and loops him into the work he started with his father: replicating the regeneration abilities of lizards in amputee humans (Connors is driven to reform his own missing arm). But when Parker wanders into Oscorp's room full of spiders (a sloppily explained this-needs-to-be-here-for-this-to-happen device) he receives his legendary spider bite that transforms him into the hero we know.
Director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) desperately wants Amazing Spider-Man to work as a high school relationship movie but with the burden of massive amounts of plot and mythology to introduce the movie sags under the sheer volume of stuff. Stone turns Parker's object of affection Gwen Stacey into a three-dimensional character. Whenever they happen upon each other an awkward exchange in the hallway a flirtatious back-and-forth in the Oscorp lab (where Stacey is head…intern) or when the two finally begin a romantic relationship the two stars shine. They're vivid characters chopped to bits in the editing room diluted by boring franchise-building plot threads and routine action sequences. Seriously Amazing Spider-Man another mad scientist villain who uses himself as a test subject only to become a monster? And another bridge rescue scene? Amazing Spider-Man desperately wants to disconnect from the original trilogy but it's trapped in an inescapable shadow and does nothing radical to shake things up. Instead it settles for the same old same old while preparing for inevitable sequels instead of investing in its dynamic duo.
There's a sweet spot where the film really hits his stride. After discovering his spider-abilities Peter hits the streets for the first time. He's superhuman but still a headstrong teen full of obnoxious quips and close calls with shiv-wielding thugs. The action is slick small and playful Webb showing us something new by melding his indie sensibilities with big scale action. If only it lasted — the introduction of Ifans reptilian half The Lizard implodes Amazing Spider-Man into incomprehensible blockbuster chaos. A gargantuan beast wreaking havoc around New York City promises King Kong-like escapades for the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man but the lizard man has other plans: to rule the world! Or something. Whatever it takes to get Lizard and Spider-Man fighting on the top of a skyscraper over a doomsday machine — logic be damned.
Amazing Spider-Man peppers its banal foundation with great talent from Denis Leary as Gwen's wickedly funny dad and the police captain hunting down Spider-Man to Fields and Sheen as two loving adults in Peter's life to Garfield and Stone whose chemistry demands a follow-up for the sake of seeing them reunited. But it's all at the cost of putting on the most expensive recreation of all time with new demands imposed by the success Marvel's other properties (except that franchise teasing worked). Amazing Spider-Man introduces too many ideas that go nowhere undermining the actual threat at hand. No one wants to be unfulfilled but that's the overriding difference between the original movie and the update. You need to pay for the sequel to know what the heck is going on in this one.
The Australian beauty queen applied for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against Irfan Aslam Lone, alleging he has pestered her and provoked "genuine fears" for her safety.
The case went to court in Sydney on Thursday (11Nov10) and a magistrate granted the AVO, ordering Lone to stay at least 100 metres (328 feet) away from Hawkins and to not assault, threaten, harass or intimidate her for 12 months.
No further details about the alleged harassment were given, but Hawkins' manager Sean Anderson said after the hearing the star has been "very upset by the ordeal".
Hawkins shot to fame in 2004 after winning the coveted Miss Universe title and went on to carve out a successful international modelling career.
Based on the novel Q&A this sharp adaptation tells the tale of a young man Jamal Palik (Dev Patel) who becomes a contestant on the Indian version of the hit game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and ends up being accused of cheating. As we see him beaten into admitting that he “knew” the answers the film darts back and forth in time to show how he came to this place and exactly where the truth lies. We see how Jamal and his brother Salim (Madhur Mittal) joined by their female friend Latika (Freida Pinto) grow up in one of the country’s worst slums where they must resort to a spree of petty crimes in order to survive. Later we catch up with them in their teens as they conduct tours of the Taj Mahal and make up tall tales for the unsuspecting visitors. Out of desperation their crimes get more intense as Latika gets herself into big trouble. By the time we get to Jamal’s appearance on the game show it’s clear he has learned what really counts as the tension-driven sequences have him answering questions at a furious pace by the dubious quizmaster (Anil Kapoor). Using a cast of largely unknown actors director Danny Boyle has created an ensemble that exudes freshness and vitality. Outstanding performances come from all the kids who play the main characters of Jamal Latika and Salim at three different ages. They are countered by the adults in the story who also make the most of their juicy roles -- particularly Indian superstar Anil Kapoor playing the shady host of the game show. His scenes on set opposite Patel’s 18 year-old Jamal are riveting and suspenseful beyond any thriller. Both actors play a telekinetic cat-and-mouse game with complete believability. Patel is terrific a real find as is the gorgeous Freida Pinto as the older Latika. Equally effective is Madhur Mittal as the crime-bent older Salim. Irrfan Khan as the determined inspector has his own intense moments while interrogating Jamal. Serious-minded movies rarely get to show off such talented younger actors but Slumdog is virtually a treasure trove in this regard. Danny Boyle’s direction is vibrant alive and pulsating with originality. This director has shown great aptitude for tackling all sorts of different genres from the dark drug-filled Trainspotting to the light-hearted family fare Millions. He’s even done zombies with 28 Days Later. With Slumdog the Brit tackles a completely foreign culture to his own and effortlessly engages us in the plight of these characters. The filmmaking is crisp and cutting-edge with an array of colors and editing choices that put us smack into the center of the story. Cutting back and forth seamlessly between the game show tapings and the flashbacks slowly filling in the answers to Jamal’s ultimate fate Boyle has crafted a completely original movie-going experience. Ending it all on an upbeat note there’s a great Bollywood-type pop number that ranks as the best musical sequence we’ve seen on film all year. You are guaranteed to leave the theater on a high.