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Critic's Pick: 'Life of Pi' a powerful grand adventure

February 07, 2013|By Betsy Sharkey
  • Suraj Sharma and a Bengal tiger known as Richard Parker arrive at an uneasy detente in director Ang Lee's "Life of Pi."
Suraj Sharma and a Bengal tiger known as Richard Parker arrive at an uneasy… (20th Century Fox )

Somehow, "Life of Pi," even with 11 Oscar nominations — only "Lincoln," with 12, has more — seems as lost at sea as its Indian teen and Bengal tiger called Richard Parker. The film is finding an audience, especially overseas, but director Ang Lee's mystical work has dropped out of the conversation on the awards front. Honestly, I don't care about that any more than Joaquin Phoenix does, but I do wish that this finely adapted literary hit was causing more of a stir in Hollywood. Screenwriter David Magee managed what many thought impossible in adapting Yann Martel's novel. Newcomer Suraj Sharma was exceptional at portraying the shipwrecked Pi with all the pathos — and pique — you might expect of a teen with the odds stacked against him. The effects folks worked wonders putting real bite into Richard Parker's growl. But it was the director's imagination that brought this grand adventure to visually stunning life. With its groundbreaking 3-D, "Pi" is an otherworldly experience of exceptional power that deserves its place in the sun.

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