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Life of Pi: 3-Disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray 3D Review

life-of-pi-blu-ray-3d-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4 (2D)/MVC (3D)
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English Descritpive Audio Dolby Digital 5.1, German DTS 5.1; 2D Only: Spanish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Thai, Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, German; 2D Only: French, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Greek Moder, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 123 Mins
  • Discs: 3 (1 x Blu-ray 3D + 1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Digital Copies: iTunes Digital Copy & UltraViolet
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 12, 2013
  • List Price: $49.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
HD: [Rating:5/5]
3D Effect: [Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

 (The below TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

 Life-of-Pi-3D-BD_01

Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee has not shied away from tackling whatever topic or style his muse may lead him over the past two decades, be it the powerful 1970s family drama The Ice Storm (2007), the high-flying martial arts extravaganza Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), or the 1960s acid dramedy Taking Woodstock (2009). In his latest endeavor, the director is unafraid to shift directions again. This time, with Life of Pi, Lee adapts the Yann Martel adventure novel to the big screen and turns it into a visually stunning, philosophically reflective coming of age story.

Indian immigrant Pi Patel (Irrfan Khan; Pi as an adult) sits down at his home in Canada to tell the story of his life from childhood to young adulthood to a young writer (Rafe Spall). The story, Pi claims, will be so incredible, it will make him believe in God. As the story begins we see a young Pi (Gautam Belur and Ayush Tandon) growing up on his parents’ zoo in the French part of India in Pondicherry, we see Pi, his name shortened from a famous pool in France, seeking spiritual enlightenment as he experiments with various religions: Hinduism, Islam, and Catholicism. As he grows older (now played by Suraj Sharma), he experiences first love with a pretty young dancer, but romance is cut short when his parents announce that the family will be leaving India for Canada. All the animals from the zoo are to be sold off in North America, and Pi’s father has arranged freight for the animals and family on a Japanese ship. Tragedy strikes during the trip, when a big storm hits, and Pi must abandon ship for a lifeboat. Ending up alone, without his family, he finds himself in the lifeboat with naught but a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan, and a dangerous Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The storm eventually clears and the animals all begin to attack each other, leaving Pi alone on the boat with only Richard Parker. He must now find a way to survive, keeping himself and the wild tiger alive. Central to the story is the growing respect that Pi gains for the tiger that he very well knows could kill him at any moment, yet even when he has the opportunity, Pi refuses to take Richard Parker’s life. The film’s denouement reveals the crucial role that Richard Parker, Pi’s faith, and the rest of the animals truly played in Pi’s survival on the seas.

Apart from its spiritual and philosophical reflections, the thing that grabs you the most about Life of Pi is, naturally, the splendid, lavish cinematography of Claudio Miranda. The opening scenes of the family zoo are striking, and remind one of the best of a BBC nature documentary, such as Planet Earth. Shots on the wide open seas glisten with  cerulean blues and sparkling light dancing over the water. Of course, there are the magnificent CG effects that are made all the better in 3D that are often surreal or impressionistic, like a comic book of the story of Krishna creating the universe coming to life, or a moment where a whale breaches the surface of the sea below Pi’s lifeboat that looks like it was filmed in neon.

Even as the pacing slows and we settle into the daily struggle of Pi to both survive his time at sea and being attacked by the Bengal tiger, we are never bored. That is the strength of Lee’s direction, David Magee’s screenplay, and Sharma’s powerful acting. We are taken deeper into the profound effect that both this tragic turn of events and his time spent with Richard Parker has had on Pi, even as he begins to question his spiritual beliefs during one powerful scene where the two are struck by yet another storm at sea. Rather than contrived, the scene feels true and intimate. It is one of many in Life of Pi that make it an enjoyable feast for the eyes, mind, and soul.

Video Quality

HD: [Rating:5/5]

3D Effect: [Rating:5/5]

Life-of-Pi-3D-BD_02

Life of Pi is an original high definition 3D production shot using the PACE Fusion 3D system, the same system originally utilized in James Cameron’s groundbreaking Avatar and such films as Resident Evil: Afterlife. Just as the former films, Life of Pi has a beautiful, natural 3D effect, from the opening “nature” shots of the zoo, right through the more CG-enhanced visual effects. There are moments that present an opportunity for more pop-out, such as the scene with flying fish that come right out at you, or some of the more surreal images of the wildlife beneath the sea. This is one of the greatest uses of 3D in a live action film to come along since Cameron’s Avatar. Even in 2D, however, Life of Pi, though it loses some of its impact, still looks amazing, with a clean image, crisp detail, and strong contrast.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Life-of-Pi-3D-BD_03

An English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is the main mix supplied for this release. It is a true reference quality offering, moving from the subtlest sounds of quiet dialogue or waves softly splashing against the boat, to thunderous storms. The musical score is beautifully balanced and airy throughout the soundstage. One fault may be that the surround back channels could have been beefed up ever so slightly to create a little bit of a tighter circle.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Life-of-Pi-3D-BD_04

We get a selection of high definition production featurettes filled with interviews of the cast and crew, numerous deleted and extended scenes, and visual effects progressions. It all amounts to approximately two-hours of additional material that make for interesting viewing.

The supplements:

  • DVD
  • iTunes Digital Copy and UltraViolet

Blu-ray 2D:

  • A Filmmaker’s Epic Journey (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 01:03:29)
  • A Remarkable Vision (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:19:35)
  • Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:35)
  • Gallery (1080p/24)
  • Storyboards (1080p/24)
  • Live Extras:
    • Blu-ray Exclusive: The Importance of Storytelling

Blu-ray 3D:

  • Deleted Scenes (3D or 2D) (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:16)
  • VFX Progressions (3D or 2D):
  • Tsimtsum Sinking (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 00:12:40)
  • The Wave Tank (1.33:1/1.85:1; 1080p/24;00:02:10)
  • Theatrical Trailer (3D or 2D; 1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Life-of-Pi-3D-BD_05

Ang Lee has crafted a triumphant 3D adventure with Life of Pi. It is at once a breathtaking visual treat and a powerful paean to the human spirit and spirituality. Even the scenes that could have been ponderous or trite here are elevated to marvelous heights. An enjoyable film all around, with beautiful visuals, strong acting, and great direction.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Life of Pi on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack at CD Universe

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Purchase Life of Pi on Blu-ray 3D Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles on Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
HD: [Rating:5/5]
3D Effect: [Rating:5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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