Every year at this time the words "masterpiece", "instant classic", "groundbreaking", and hundreds of other words of acclaim are used to describe movies. Some of those movies do end up becoming classics, some of them go on to become award winners, and some of them end up being forgotten, a victim of the ever-changing pop culture.
In Ang Lee's Life of Pi adaptation we have one of these films deemed "groundbreaking" and a "masterpiece". The major conflict with words like that are in how the viewer may see and process any flaws. It's hard to find a movie, especially one with heavy CGI, that doesn't have some realm of flaws, and Life of Pi is no exception. But, if the audience is wrapped up in the story enough to forgive those flaws, then I think the director has done his job. Lee, and Academy Award winner already, took an almost impossible novel and turned it into a breathtaking, effects-filled, 3-D arthouse film. Something never quite seen before.
The story follows the young Pi Patel, who survives a shipwreck after his family (former zoo owners) decides to embark for Canada from their native India. After a storm literally rips his family from him, Pi is left aboard a lifeboat with an injured zebra, an orangutan, a vicious and hungry hyena, and a fierce Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It's his journey with the tiger that proves the most daring of all. For over 200 days the boy and the tiger muddle through a variety of storms, the most poignant being hunger and pride.
Lee's direction is right on par. The emotions and feelings wrapped into this type of God-searching journey can only be a done successfully, with the right amount of tact, or overdone like a cheesy Hallmark movie. Life of Pi asks all of the right questions at the right time, and doesn't rush the answer until absolutely necessary. Besides be amazed visually with stellar effects and an Oscar-worthy performance by newcomer Suraj Sharma, Life of Pi is also an intellectual treat, leaving you asking yourself questions and wondering for days after seeing.