Life of Pi: 'a marvel of virtuoso cinematic artistry'

MANILA, Philippines - Adapting a novel into a full-length feature film always raises questions on whether the big screen version stayed faithful to the narrative of the book.

The challenge becomes even greater when adapting supposedly unfilmable books such as Yann Martel's Booker Prize winner, Life of Pi.

After 3 directors (M. Night Shyamalan, Alfonso Cuaron and Jean Pierre Jeunet) expressed interest and then backed out of the project, Matt Mueller of totalfilm.com is happy to report that Ang Lee, who stepped up to the challenge, did a "thrillingly conceived and executed take" on the best-selling novel about a boy who survives a shipwreck despite insurmountable odds. 

As per Mueller's verdict: "[The movie is] a riot of saturated color and delirious imagination, Ang Lee’s adaptation radiates spirituality. But it’s also a simple, thrilling and gently uplifting tale of a boy, a boat and a tiger. Take the plunge."

According to Mueller, fans will be happy to find that Lee stayed true to Martel's prose "with only minor deviations to enrich the brew."

Pi, the main character, is played by 3 actors - Ayush Tandon, Slumdog Millionaire's Irrfan Khan and Suraj Sharma.

After Pi gets into a shipwreck, he fights to survive aboard a lifeboat with a zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena and a tiger named Richard Parker. 

Aside from being "a marvel of virtuoso cinematic artistry," the movie also boasts of animatronics, CGI and reality in bringing to life Pi's fellow castaways, Mueller said. 

While fans of the books might not be happy about the absence of certain details, such as an episode where Pi hallucinates about having a conversation with Richard Parker, the decision makes sense when the dramatic arc of the movie is taken into consideration.

Unfortunately, Philippine-based fans will have to wait a while. Life of Pi opens in Philippine theaters on January 8, 2013. - Rappler.com