3D Blu-ray Review "Life of Pi"

Actors: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Gérard Depardieu
Directors: Ang Lee
Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 12, 2013
Run Time: 123 minutes

Film: 5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow! Wow! I think that about sums up my review. I have to admit I did not see this film in theaters. Not for the last of interest, just never hard the opportunity.  Boy, was I missing out.  “Life of Pi” was absolutely stunning.  I do not even think though that that is enough of a comment to describe how amazing it is.  But beyond being an amazing movie, this was the best 3D that I have seen, or at least since “Avatar”, especially on Blu-ray. “Life of Pi” is such a visually amazing film.  And how about the performance from newcomer Suraj Sharmaread, where the hell was his Oscar nomination.  Ang Lee won Best Director at this year’s Academy Awards, check out our interview with him here, which he well deserved. Do not miss this film and it is a must see in 3D. Highly (x2) recommended!

Official Premise: Embark on the adventure of a lifetime in this visual masterpiece from Oscar winner Ang Lee, based on the best-selling novel. After a cataclysmic shipwreck, young Pi Patel finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with the only other survivor – a ferocious Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. Bound by the need to survive, the two are cast on an epic journey that must be seen to be believed.

“Life of Pi” is already hands down my favorite Blu-ray release of 2013 already. Fox really delivered the goods here. It comes as a combo pack with a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy. This film is like I said really meant to be seen in 3D. In fact if you don’t have a 3D TV and where on the fence, this would be the film to push you over! I have never experienced a film like this before. From the moment the film started I sat on my couch speechless with my mouth wide open at the amazing visuals that were coming off my television screen. The 1080p transfer is just stunning and perfectly represents the 3D. Don’t get me wrong it also looks stunning in 2D but the visual aspect is drastically reduced. Kudos go to the incredible cinematography from Oscar nominee Claudio Miranda (“Tron: Legacy”) for this visual masterpiece.

One thing I wanted to point out with the video was there was a sudden change in the aspect ratio during the “flying fish” scene. The aspect ratio jumps the normal 1.85:1 to 2.35:1. I liked this change because during that scene, one of the fishes seem to actually jump out from beyond the black border on the bottom and into the film itself. I was blown away. ”Life of Pi” besides looking absolutely stunning on this release, it also sounds perfect. The fast and furious DTS Master Audio 7.1 surround audio track is a thing of beauty in itself. This works perfectly with the film’s action and events surrounding it. You literally can feel like you are in the storm or the tiger is actually about to attack right behind you. Top that with Mychael Danna’s Academy Award-winning score and you will be left applauding at the end of the film like myself.

The special features are also another spectacular edition to this release. With big name Blu-rays coming out with little or no extras (*cough* “The Hobbit” *cough*), this is a real treat. First since I was in love with the 3D aspect of this film, I almost fell over when I saw that their were actually 3D special features! Don’t bother re-reading that sentence, it is true! There are five deleted scenes, which total up just shy of 15 minutes. I really enjoyed the “VFX Progressions” in 3D, which shows the ship sinking sequence in various stages. There is also a montage of footage during the production of the wave tank used. Lastly there is a 3D Theatrical Trailer. All of these extras can also be played in 2D as well for those lacking the extra dimension, but what fun is that?

If you enjoyed this film or want to learn more be sure to check out the brand new microsite for “Life of Pi”, and explore Pi’s miraculous journey and how the film came together here.

Also check out the internationally recognized American chalk/street artist Tracy Lee Stum who brought her spectacular interactive 3D street drawing to L.A. in Downtown Los Angeles from March 9-12. She paid tribute to Life of Pi, in honor of the March 12 home entertainment release. The drawing was inspired by a key scene from the four-time Academy Award-winning film.


Related Content

"Life of Pi" Blu-ray Giveaway [ENDED]


“Life of Pi” Available on Blu-ray and DVD March 12

To celebrate the release of Ang Lee’s visual masterpiece “Life of Pi”, Media Mikes would like to giveaway a Blu-ray to its readers. If you would like to enter for your chance to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email indicating your favorite film based on a novel. This giveaway will remain open until March 22nd at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to residents of the United States only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

A “magnificent and moving” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone) motion picture event that has been hailed as “a masterpiece” (Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times), taking in over $500 million in worldwide box office. LIFE OF PI follows Pi Patel, a young man on a fateful voyage who, after a spectacular disaster, is marooned on a lifeboat with the only other survivor, a fearsome 450 lb Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery Pi and his majestic companion make an amazing and unexpected connection.

Check out Fox’s Guide to 3D Blu-ray:

One of the latest developments in the world of home entertainment is the introduction of 3D Blu-ray. Ang Lee made the most of 3D technology in the making of Life of Pi, which is being released on 3D Blu-ray March 12. The 3D Blu-ray will allow select bonus features to be seen in 3D, which is a first for the market. In this feature, we’ll take a closer look into at-home 3D technology and how it is evolving.

All the major studios now release their blockbusters on 3D Blu-ray. Popular 3D titles from 20th Century Fox include Avatar and Prometheus and with older titles such as iRobot now re-mastered for 3D Blu-ray release it looks like we will be viewing more and more of our favourite 3D films at home this year.

When 3D HDTVs were first sold in 2010 many believed that TV technology had reached its peak. However, TV giants such as Samsung, LG and Panasonic and Sony were already looking ahead. They immediately began work on passive 3D glasses, similar to what audiences use in the cinema, which were more comfortable than the chunky active-3D glasses, which consumers had to sync with their TV in order to use.

This was certainly a welcome step forward for consumers but the electronics companies were just getting started. In 2012 we witnessed the first glasses-free 3D HDTV. This marked a huge breakthrough for at-home 3D but there were still problems. For example, each person watching had to sync their position with the TV to ensure clear viewing, which proved tiresome in big groups.

Price remains the biggest barrier to consumer conversion to glasses-free 3D TV. These products are, on average, $10,000 more expensive than your run-of-the-mill passive or active 3D HDTVs, which means you are unlikely to see them in your friends’ living room anytime soon.

Another key area of growth with at-home 3D technology is mobile, with a growing number of laptops supporting 3D movie playback and video gaming. Tablets and smartphones are also expected to enter the market featuring glasses-free 3D entertainment in the next few years.

A good example of a company bringing 3D technology to laptops is the Dutch company Dimenco. They were behind a recent promotion involving glasses-free lenticular screens in London and have also developed a lenticular attachment for the MacBook Pro which will offer glasses-free 3D on a Retina-display laptop: the ideal place for it, since there is no problem with multiple viewing angles.

So what should we look out for in 2013? 4K technology has been on our cinema screens since 2007 but will be entering the home in 2013. 4KTVs will have a mind-blowing 8 million individual pixels and some brands will even allow users to play 2-player games with no split-screen. The $24,999 price-tag means you won’t be seeing many 4KTVs around but with at-home 3D technology evolving at such a pace, it won’t be long before you can watch your Life of Pi 3D Blu-ray in 4K at home.

Ang Lee previews "Life of Pi" Blu-Ray

On March 12th, Ang Lee’s extraordinary Life of Pi arrives on Blu-ray and DVD with many special features that delve into the making of this challenging and visually stunning film. Life of Pi tells the story of Pi Patel, a boy whose sent adrift on a lifeboat after a disastrous ship sinking with only a bengal tiger to accompany him in his struggle for survival. Life of Pi took home the most Academy Awards for a single movie at this year’s awards (for Best director, cinematography, visual effects and musical score) and director Lee joined his editor Tim Squyres and writer, David Magee in New York this past week to talk about bringing Yann Martel’s novel to the screen.

People compare the level of immersiveness in this film’s 3D with Avatar’s. At what point in the development process did you decide to do it in 3D and how did that affect the writing?
Ang Lee: In the very beginning when we think about the structure of the script, I thought of the 3D thing. Which was about six months, nine months, before Avatar was released.
David Magee: Yea we hadn’t seen Avatar yet–we were talking about 3D in our first dinner together.
Tim Squyres: We had saw a bunch of 3D movies, good ones and bad ones…
Ang Lee:  I think the success of Avatar did two things for us. One is really legitimizing 3D as a storytelling tool. I think that’s a huge jump, James Cameron really pushed that. We wouldn’t have that argument. The second thing was it helped us arguing with the studio which, they say, ‘this is literature, this is not [an] action movie, why would …you want to add like a quarter [of the budget] just to do 3D, why?’ I think our film will help film makers make the same argument such as we took it from Avatar...I really give James Cameron the credit to elevating the 3D into a storytelling tool. I think that’s a huge step and I think everybody will just add things on top of that. We learn new things. I think the way it was used was very conservative. I think we could do more but everybody’s doing what we think is good for the audience at that time…This is not a mature language yet. We’re still sort of finding it. Establishing it.

With the amount of features on the Blu-Ray sort of pulling back the curtain on the whole process, do you think this makes audiences more appreciative of what they see? Or do you think it takes a little bit away?

Tim Squyres: There’s still lots of secrets. We’re not giving everything away!
David Magee: There are also two kinds of people in the world: There are people who like to watch a magic trick and go ‘I don’t wanna know how they did that’ and there are people who like to watch a magic trick and figure out how it’s done. And I think it’s totally appropriate for either of those people–look, if you’re the one who doesn’t want to know, don’t watch those extra features. Clearly we’re going to show you how this works, just stop.
Ang Lee: I don’t mind sharing How-to. I think that’s really fun and it’s educational for young filmmakers…I think really the mystery is in the charm, the spirit of the story. In the performance. I wouldn’t share how I deal with actors. What they go through. I would share very limited of that artistic thinking, how I hold a story, how I examine that within the film’s structure. People ask me about symbolism…and I staple it. I can not tell you, I am not going there. But I think the making is fun.

While young Pi Patel was played by  new comer Suraj Sharma, the older version of Pi was portrayed by film veteran Irrfan Khan (Amazing Spider-man, Slumdog Millionaire) Did Suraj get to interact with Khan at all in order to discuss their takes on the character?

Ang Lee: A little bit, he’s still starstruck by Irrfan Khan, he’s just like the best actor taboo. So he idolized him. Not that [Suraj] ever acted before but you know, he’s a smart young man, so he knows there’s the real-deal for acting. He looked up to them. I gave him personal acting lessons and of course acting with those wonderful actors was help. I think most of all he has the ability to just believe in a situation and respond accordingly. And he has a really soulful face. There’re people that are just–I think I have a good grasp on if that works cinematically or not. That’s kind of the person, people act for him.

How was the audition process for Pi?
Ang Lee: There’s no sixteen year old movie stars, so we got to get someone new. So we know the deal. I think before we meet the boy, it’s very hard for a company to commit to a project, the expense, it would be hard for me too. Even if I already have the script, if you don’t have the boy you believe in, then you don’t have a movie, we should probably just drop it. I think I was pretty lucky…when I see Suraj, I don’t know, he looks like Pi to me…His face is full of possibilities. The deep, profound way he looks when he is thinking… I’ve done movies long enough and I think I’m also talented enough to know, to tell, to trust a thing. This is the third time in a role I’m making a movie with…a first-timer lead to carry a movie. I think it’s a matter of you believing them and then you check whether they have the ability to believe in what they’re told. I tested him. He looks right and I tested him, [his was] the most poignant reading I’d experienced with the screen test. I told him to tell the second story as if it’s for real like in his circumstances–the mother is your mother, you know, I gave some equations, it took a little while and then it just started. Halfway he’s crying–and for five minutes, eight minutes, he didn’t get out of the character. That’s tremendous talent. I don’t know what else you can–people got tears! And the casting director that’s shooting’s got tears in their eyes. When I showed that tape, that face, to the studio, they want to make the movie. One of the reasons they wanted to make the movie is we got that boy. So I don’t know what else you can trust. You gotta have some faith at some point, you got to take the leap of faith. But it’s instinct, quick impression, it’s also a quick calculation I guess. I can see that will work…He didn’t melt down, he didn’t get sick at all….The last three months we shot nothing but him. Every shot is him. We’re shooting all in order and he’s losing weight at the same time. At lunch time he’s doing crunches, we gave him a slice of apple. The last month he’s going kind of crazy!

"Lincoln," "Life of Pi" Lead Oscar Nominations

“Lincoln,” Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece about the last months of the 16th President of the United States, led all films this morning when nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards were announced. The film received 12 nominations including Best Picture, Best Director (Spielberg) and Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis). Right behind was Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi,” which received 11 nominations, among them one for Best Picture. Also racking up nominations: “Silver Linings Playbook” (8), “Argo” and “Les Miserables” (7 each), “Amour,” “Django Unchained” and “Zero Dark Thirty” (5 each). All of these films received Best Picture nominations. The final Best Picture nominee, the Sundance Festival fave “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” earned 4 nominations, including a nod for Best Actress for 9-year old Quvenzhane’ Wallis. The nomination makes Wallis, who was 6 when the film was made, the youngest nominee ever for an acting Oscar.

In the acting categories, there is a good mix of past winners and newcomers. Best Acting nominees include first time nominees Bradley Cooper for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Hugh Jackman for “Les Miserables.” A pair of two-time Oscar winners, Daniel Day-Lewis for “Lincoln” and Denzel Washington for “Flight,” are also on the list as is two time nominee Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master.” Besides Wallis, nominees for Best Actress include Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty’), Jennifer Lawrence (“Silver Linings Playbook”), Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”) and Naomi Watts (“The Impossible.”

In what I’m pretty sure is a first, the Best Supporting Actor category is the first acting category ever in which all five nominees already have at least one acting Oscar on their mantle. The nominees are: Alan Arkin (Best Supporting Actor for “Little Miss Sunshine”) for “Argo,” Robert DeNiro (Best Supporting Actor for “The Godfather Part II” and Best Actor for “Raging Bull”) for “Silver Linings Playbook, Philip Seymour Hoffman (Best Actor for “Capote”) for “The Master,” Tommy Lee Jones (Best Supporting Actor for “The Fugitive”) for “Lincoln” and Christoph Waltz (Best Supporting Actor for “Inglorious Basterds”) for “Django Unchained.” Best Supporting Actress nominees are Amy Adams (“The Master”), Sally Field (“Lincoln”), Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”), Helen Hunt (“The Sessions”) and Jacki Weaver (“Silver Linings Playbook”).

Besides Spielberg, the nominees for Best Director are: Michael Haneke for “Amour,” “Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Ang Lee for “Life of Pi” and David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbooks.” A surprise non-nominee ( and I have to be honest I actually started this paragraph by listing him as a nominee) was Ben Affleck, the director of “Argo.” Affleck received a nomination from the Director’s Guild of America last week.

The 85th Annual Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, February 24th.

Book Review “The Making of Life of Pi: A Film, a Journey”

Author: Jean-Christophe Castelli
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Harper Design
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been a fan of Yann Martel’s international bestseller “Life of Pi”, since it’s release back in 2001.  It is a very ambitious story to turn into a film.  This release is the film’s journey from the pages of the book to the big screen.  It is part scrapbook, part travel guide and part production diary.  When I did my initial flip-through of the book, I couldn’t help but stop many times throughout.  To me that usually means that I am going to love the book.  It was very accurate, since I couldn’t put this wonderful graphic illustrated collection of “The Making of Life of Pi” down until I read it page-to-page.

There are many intimate interviews for the cast/crew, as well 275 photographs and illustrations including storyboards, sketches and artwork, thanks to photographer Mary Ellen Mark and artist Alexis Rockman. This book should have been called “a visual journey” because that is what it really felt like to be.  Whether it was marked-up screenplays or personal notes, this really told the story of how  Oscar-winning director Ang Lee brought Yann Martel’s international bestseller to life.  If you are viewing this book using the enhanced eBook, you get to experience the special features and also get a look inside the fifty-page fully illustrated “survival guide” that shipwreck survivor Steven Callahan created for Pi refers to during his journey.

“The Making of Life of Pi” is the ultimate guide to the making of the film from pre-production through final cut. The film is such a large scale and you get to experience the how this, like I said, ambitious film was turned over to the big screen. We get to meet the unknown sixteen-year-old actor Suraj Sharma, who is taking the lead role of Pi.  We find out how he got the role and even did his own stunts. You also get to see that there was a massive wave tank that was built just for the for the film.  You even get to meet the film’s co-star, or should I say co-stars.  King, Themis, Minh, and Jonas are the four Bengal tigers used in the film.  Lastly we get to see how the heavy amounts of visual effects were used and blended to create this wonderful journey, all while shooting in 3D.

The book is authored by Jean-Christophe Castelli, who has a long working relationship with Ang Lee.  He started working with him way back for cultural research on “The Ice Storm” (1997) and then followed by the story development of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000).  There is a wonderful foreword from “Life of Pi” author Yann Martel.  This is a great sign, which means that the author endorses the film and believes in it. There is also an introduction from the film’s director Ang Lee.  I have been a big fan of his work in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” but not some much recently but this film looks to change that very soon. Thanks to this book, I will be first in line now to see “The Life of Pi” in theaters.