Award-winning adaptation sets a new high-water mark with its stereoscopic spectacle
From Rashamon to The Usual Suspects, the untrustworthy narrator has been a recurring figure throughout the history of movies.
Life of Pi's narrator is no different – for him it's a way of both making his personal experiences more tolerable as well as exploring how people make the choice between faith and skepticism.
Told in flashback, the film recounts how the 16-year-old Pi (Suraj Sharma) ended up trapped at sea with only a man-eating tiger for company. What follows may be a little thin on plot, but in director Ang Lee's hands, it's undoubtedly one of the most visually spectacular movies ever made.
Picture: If you've been searching around for a new 3D demo disc, then 20th Century Fox's stereoscopic Blu-ray release of Life of Pi should be your first port of call.
Make no mistake about it, this is an achingly beautifully film, brilliantly realised in Full HD 3D via a flawless 1.85:1 MVC encode. The use of space and dimensional effects within the image is stunningly effective, and the luxurious palette of vibrant primary colours that fills almost every single frame of the film is breathtaking. In addition, blacks are thrillingly deep, fine detailing is magnificent and contrast levels appear absolutely true to the filmmakers' intentions.
Interestingly, there are two points in the film where the aspect ratio changes (à la Christopher Nolan's Batman sequels). The first is a shift to 2.40:1 during the flying fish sequence in Chapter 18 (see below), where some of the fish actually appear in front of the black bars to give even greater emphasis to the sense of depth in the image. The second is a solitary aerial shot of a whale swimming under the lifeboat; here the aspect ratio switches to a more confined 4:3.
Unsurprisingly, the 2D presentation of the film (provided on a separate Blu-ray platter) is just as accomplished from a technical standpoint.
Picture rating: 5/5
Audio: Whether you watch it 'flat' or in 3D, Life of Pi's DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack is another winner for Fox. In addition to the clean presentation of the dialogue and realisation of Mycheal Danna's Academy Award-winning score, it's also proves extremely adept at conjuring up some powerful soundscapes. Dial up Chapter 9's storm-wracked shipwreck for an idea of how aggressively the track employs the surrounds and subwoofer when required.
Audio rating: 5/5
Extras: Life of Pi's bonus features are split between the 3D and 2D platters – although importantly, those on the stereoscopic disc can also be watched 'flat' on a system that lacks 3D capabilities. These nominally 3D extras take the form of five deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer and two visual effects progression reels – Tsimtsum Sinking (13 minutes) and The Wave Tank (two minutes).
The centrepiece of the extras on the 2D platter is A Filmmaker's Epic Journey, a comprehensive hour-long documentary charting the making of the film. Joining this are featurettes about the visual effects (20 minutes) and tiger training (nine minutes), an extensive art gallery and seven storyboard galleries. A decent effort.
Extras rating: 3.5/5
We say: Ang Lee's visually dazzling piece of cinematic spectacle is also the best 3D BD money can buy
Life of Pi 3D, 20th Century Fox, Region A/B BD, £28 Approx
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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