Suraj Sharma and his furry friend ride CG waves in Life Of Pi.
LIFE OF PI (Ang Lee) 127 minutes. Now playing. See times. Rating: NNN
Ang Lee's Life Of Pi turns Yann Martel's Booker Prize-winning novel about a teenage boy lost at sea with a tiger into a 3D spectacle designed to keep us from thinking about how preposterous the whole thing is.
As spectacle, it works pretty damn well, with one gorgeously designed sequence rolling into the next, framed by an older Pi (Irrfan Khan) recounting the unbelievable tale of his survival to a wide-eyed visitor (Rafe Spall).
Lee treats the younger Pi's ordeal as a stylized fantasia, honouring the spirit of Martel's text while he knocks around in his CGI toy box with considerably more success than he did in 2003's Hulk.
But while the visuals are magnificent, they're still just eye candy; lively as Suraj Sharma is as the younger Pi, we're always aware he's acting on a green-screen set. It's Khan who gives the movie its weight, delivering a closing monologue with such complex sorrow that it makes all the digital frippery feel kind of pointless.
The drama's in the flesh, not the backdrops.