I remember the first time I saw the book 'Life of Pi'. It was in a Barnes and Noble, and the cover featured a boy in a lifeboat with a tiger. I quickly judged that cover and was hooked. It looked like some sort of fantasy. What I didn't know is that the story would play it straight. (I have a brief review of the book here if you're interested. Short story, I highly recommend it.)
A few years later I heard that there was interest in turning it into a movie. The story largely takes place as a narrative of a boy in a lifeboat with a tiger so it was hard to see how they could possibly make a movie work. And boy howdy, the record of books to movies is not very good. But the reviews were positive, so I thought I'd give it a chance. (Which I did last March when I found that a) I had a day off and b) it was in the theater some five months after it was released.)
I came away impressed and wanted the FP Gal to see it. I thought she might miss out from the big screen but what can you do? (I've been told that it used 3D very well, but, being a cyclops, that wasn't an option for me anyway.) This was the second movie that I put on the Netflix queue.
What did I think? It's really quite fantastic. The cinematography is fantastic in both senses of the word. The script did an excellent job of conveying the story, both the internal dialogue and the action. Pi seemed like he was in constant danger from the tiger. This is quite a feat since we rarely honestly fear for the protagonist.
One thing that really strikes me upon rewatching, is how deft a job 'Life of Pi' does with traditional religion. Early in the story, Pi becomes enraptured with Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The story treats all of them with genuine respect. (Note to non-religious: the movie doesn't hit you over the head, so don't be put off by this.)
I haven't seen many of the Best Picture nominees from last year but I can easily say that 'Life of Pi' deserved its nomination.