DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Life of Pi, Blu-ray 3D (2012)

An amazing journey and the absolute best 3D film I’ve seen!

Published on March 13, 2013

Life of Pi, Blu-ray 3D (2012)

Special Blu-ray edition with 3 discs: (1 – the 3D movie and 3D extras, disc 2 – the 2D movie with 2D extras, disc 3 – standard definition DVD with a digital copy)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Video: 1.85.1 for 16:9 1080p HD 3D
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. English Descriptive Audio 5.1, Spanish and French Dolby Surround 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Length: 123 minutes
Rating: *****

Yes, there was Avatar. Great 3D technology, but a script that was (cough) somewhat less than original. Hugo was a better marriage of 3D with a good movie, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But after spending the evening watching Life of Pi on my 85” screen Epson projector I have to say Life of Pi is the pinnacle of 3D experiences!

Based on a book that many thought was un-filmable, the movie tells the tale of a young indian boy whose family plans to move to Canada, accompanied by zoo animals his father has taken with him after closing his zoo in India. The boat sinks, and the young boy, played by newcomer Suraj Sharma, winds up trapped on a small lifeboat with a Bengal Tiger.

The plot is well known by now, and takes a lot of twists and turns. On the surface it is an adventure story, like a Kipling or Jack London novel. The meta-story is about discovery and faith, or lack thereof. It will no doubt start many post-movie debates and conversations. Some may see it as new age woo. I liked the message, even if things got a bit muddled near the end.

About the 3D: In a word, spectacular. Sometimes it is subtle, sometimes it is not, but it is always compelling, drawing you into the story as if you were watching the movie through a large window. Much of the movie is CGI, but it is seamless. Sometimes the Tiger was a real one, or 4 actually, most of the time it is flawless CGI. The sinking of the ship, and the young boy escaping in a storm are thrilling. I watched the scenes again on the included 2D version, and there is no comparison.

The audio is multichannel 7.1. I listened to the 5.1 DTS Master Audio mix, and it was among the best aural presentations I have ever heard from a movie. If ever a movie synched perfectly with 3D, multichannel audio, and an exciting story, this is that movie.

Many of the extras are in 3D, and that is very rare in my experience. There are some deleted scenes, and most interesting are extras that show how the big moments of the film were done. The sinking of the ship, for example, was done in a large tank with blue screens surrounding it. The CGI is inserted perfectly and with such precision you are surprised at viewing the raw footage and seeing how much was not real. Water is always a problem for movies. Miniature waves always look fake when blown up. CGI water has always called attention to itself. Yet in Life of Pi, water looks real and frightening as it towers over the characters.

So often, good 3D, and it’s rare, is mated with a bad movie that uses 3D as a box office attraction, rather than a story enhancer. Not so here. This thrilling story is brought to life by the 3D, and it is the kind of movie you will watch more than once. Of course as a demo, it is the movie that will stop your friends from making fun of your 3D TV purchase.  Director Ang Lee has created an Oscar-winning classic, and those who think 3D is a gimmick need to view Life of Pi. 

—Mel Martin




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