I saw this movie a couple weeks ago and mistakenly never got around to posting a review of it here. A couple folks have asked me about it so I am doing so now, even though it is already in theaters.

The plot of the film is quite simple. It is the tale of a young boy -- mid teens -- who's family owns a zoo in India. They decide to move the zoo to America, the only way to do so is via a boat. While at sea, the boat sinks. The boy is let alive, as are some of the animals, including a bengal tiger. The boy and the tiger end up being raft-mates in a decent sized (but not huge) lifeboat and they spend a loooong time at sea together trying to survive. I know it sounds fantastic and more than a little bit ridiculous, but it works. Trust me. The movie does not take shortcuts and make the tiger talk to the boy or something silly like that. It is a real tiger and acts like a real one. The peril from being in a confined area with a beast that wants to eat you is always present in the movie. This is not some strange Dr. Doolittle or something like that.

Sounds simple, but the story also speaks to faith and friendship and spirituality. Heck, on some level I think the whole movie is about the quest to find God in the most mundane and fantasic moments in life. It is not preachy, nor does it endorse any particular religion. Heck, I think it pretty clear speaks out against faith in one religion over another. I could imagine someone who is a true aetheist being somewhat bothered by this film, though the movie never seeks to actually confirm God exists. Now that I look back on what I just wrote, I realize I am making the movie seem waaaay more religious than it actually is. Rest assured, no matter what your belief system (I am Jewish but don't really believe in God as some being watching over us), Life of Pi is neither preachy nor offensive.

On the good side, I found Life of Pi to be one of the most beautiful movies I have ever seen. The screen is chock full of majestic scenery and remarkable effects. This is one of those rare movies where I say SEE IT IN 3D!! The 3D here is fabulous and really adds to your appreciation of the images on screen. The tiger, as well as pretty much all the other animals, are 100% CGI. I cannot even explain how good the CGI is here. I will merely say that the CGI tiger looks almost entirely real in every scene. You have never seen CGI this believable and integral to the plot of a movie. I truly think the leaps forward in this film will give filmmakers the ability to tell stories in whole new ways going forward. It is a leap into CGI that is entirely believable. I think it is worth buying a ticket merely to experience the wonder of that.

However, a word of warning. This is not an easy movie to sit through. It is a long 2 hours, dragging at times and not filled with nearly as much action as you might imagine. I did not check my watch, but I was aware that the film was not holding all of my interest at times.

That said, I think it is a great film for a date or for a family. You will talk about it and think about it when it is over and I think it is appropriate for kids down to 10 or 11. It is going to be nominated for a slew of award, I suspect, including Best Director for Ang Lee. It is interesting to note that the cast is almost entirely unknown actors. The only remotely famous face in the film is Gerard Depardeau, who doesn't even have all that big of a role.

Well, that's about it. It is a thinking person's movie, that's for sure.

-Jason "hope lots of people see it, if only because I think the images are so beautiful" Evans