We'll start The Life of Pi with adjectives. Original. Stunning. Mesmerizing. Mind boggling. There are more, but you get the picture.
Director Ang Lee's visionary film begins with an older, mature Pi telling a journalist how he found God. The journey from one religion to the next and the history of Pi's family is light and entertaining. Then, Pi's story takes a dark twist. While traveling from India to Canada, a complex series of disasters sink the freighter Pi and his family are on, and it sets the teenager adrift at sea with animals from his father's zoo.
Fate soon whittles the number of animals on Pi's lifeboat down to one. He is sharing it with Richard Parker, a fierce Bengal tiger. How the boy and the tiger survive, their eventual symbiotic relationship and how he eventually understands God, is an incredible and fascinating story.
Kudos go to newcomer Suraj Sharma, who plays Pi. Sharma's co-star is a tiger that is sometimes with him, at other time a special effect, or their scenes are done separately and melded together. He does most of his scenes solo, and his exceptional acting sells the concept.
The film's real star, though, is Lee. The way he does The Life of Pi -- especially in 3D -- is an incredible movie experience.
I have always been an advocate of seeing movies on a big screen in a theater. That's how they're designed. At the same time, considering movie prices and the number released each week, I understand why many of you wait to see movies in your living rooms or in your home theaters.
The Life of Pi -- such as visual feasts Titanic or Avatar and others with excellent effects -- is one of those films that absolutely must be experienced on a gigantic screen. To see it any other way will not do it justice. And spend the extra couple of bucks to see in 3D.
The trailers you've seen about the movie do not do this movie justice. Visually, The Life of Pi defies description. It is truly the Thanksgiving holiday weekend's only must-see movie.
Trust me on this one.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 stars
Director: Ang Lee
Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan
Rated PG for mature themes and some intense scenes. It is playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.