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I resisted watching Life of Pi because the trailer made it seem as if the entire movie would involve a kid in a lifeboat with a tiger. I figured a plot that thin would be a waste of two hours of my life. But the movie won some awards, and friends said I should see it, so I took a chance on it. And now I don't mind admitting that I was wrong. Very wrong.

And by that I mean the movie did not waste two hours of my life; I walked out after 45 minutes. So technically I'm only reviewing the first 45 minutes of the film. 

I have four absolutes when it comes to movies. I won't watch a movie that has any of the following elements:
  1. Prison theme.
  2. People at risk of drowning.
  3. Animals in jeopardy.
  4. Someone gets tied to a chair and tortured.

Life of Pi came close to including all four of my absolutes. Watching a kid trapped in a lifeboat with a tiger is a lot like a prison theme. Spoiler alert: I assume that by the middle of the movie the tiger turns Pi into his lifeboat bitch and trades him to a porpoise for a pack of cigarettes. That's how I would have written it.

The movie also has plenty of drowning, and risk of drowning, and plenty of animals in jeopardy. And as I watched the movie, I felt as though someone had tied me to a chair and tortured me. I literally walked out of the theater shaking. I didn't feel right for about an hour.

I won't say Life of Pi (first 45 minutes) is the worst movie I have ever seen. But that's only because I have also seen Les Miserables, Titanic, The English Patient, and I love You Phillip Morris. There's a lot of competition for the worst movie of all time.

Just to be clear, I think Life of Pi is extraordinarily well-made in the filmmaking sense. That was no surprise because director Ang Lee also made my favorite movie of all time, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That accomplishment was largely cancelled out by his next award-winning movie, Brokeback Mountain. But still, the man knows how to make a movie.

The natural problem with reviewing movies is that every moviegoer has a unique set of preferences. To be fair, I can easily imagine Life of Pi appealing to certain types of people. For example, serial killers are known to enjoy watching animals get injured. If you're a serial killer, or you just hate animals, this is definitely the film for you.

Sadists and sociopaths will also enjoy this film. The 3D technology is used so effectively that it's like you are right there watching people and animals suffer. The only way it could be better is if you were causing the suffering yourself while making the loved ones of the victims watch. So on that level, Life of Pi is a great film.

The movie isn't as unpleasant to watch as it could have been. If Steven Spielberg had directed it, the film would have been three hours long and Pi would have needed to surgically remove his own infected eye using nothing but saltwater and an oar. Spielberg likes to include at least one scene in every movie that makes me never want to see another movie as long as I live. I call it the Schindler's List scene.

A recent exception to the Schindler's List scene is Spielberg's movie Lincoln. I highly recommend Lincoln. But be advised that the film is more like the best documentary you've ever watched than a typical movie. If you aren't interested in politics and history, it might not work for you. Personally, I loved it. It has no prison theme, no drowning, no animals in jeopardy, and no one tied to a chair to be tortured. That's what I call a movie.

[Note: I realize that many of you will say I should have stayed to the end of Life of Pi because that's where the payoff is. For those of you who would recommend that approach to moviegoing, you should try banging your head against a brick wall because when you stop, WOW, it feels terrific.]


 

 
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Jan 22, 2013
Thank you for reviewing this movie. I had no desire to see it, but having someone who at least saw part of the movie agree with me that the movie sucks, reaffirms that. I only saw the ads, but it seemed a little unbelievable to me that 1/ the guy wasn't snack food for the tiger after 10 seconds in the boat, and 2/ for the amount of time they were supposedly in the boat, the guy had grown no facial hair. I understand that for some action movies, you have to let your brain take a nap in order to suspend certain lapses in physics and such, but this didn't appear to be that type of movie. Please feel free to keep offering movie reviews, I find them to be quite insightful and entertaining, including some of movies that you did like. And if you are taking requests, can you offer a review of Parker before I go and see a free preview tomorrow night?

Also, I agree with DilgalLives four guidelines more that I would agree with your four absolutes.
 
 
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Jan 22, 2013
So, probably not going to see Madagascar 4: Escape from Alcatraz?
 
 
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 22, 2013
I hated Life of Pi.
I was expecting a feel-good type of movie. Boy befriends Tiger, something like that.

Instead, I got a highly pretentious, deeply religious and theoretical movie chokfull of symbolism and metaphors that you have zero chance of understanding unless you know a fair amount about the various Hindu gods and have autism-like perception.

The movie is more like an elaborate experiment.
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 22, 2013
seems very similar to the worst rock concert i ever attended .. Emerson, Lake and Palmer. The excruciating dull pompousness of the music was emphasized by ridiculous piano bothering antics (a poor rip off of townsend's guitar trashing antics). But i couldn't leave early because i was poverty stricken and i'd lose my lift home. I still grind my teeth whenever i hear of Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
 
 
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Jan 22, 2013
Thank you for the well-written review.
I probably won't go to see the 'Life of Pi' and I probably will go to see 'Lincoln'.

If you get a chance I would like to get you opinion on some Tarantino film, why not 'Django Unchained'.
Or if you ever happen to watch anything from bizarre wold of Finnish film culture. Other than 'Iron Sky' which is not entirely Finnish movie.
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
With your 'pre-requisites' I don't understand why you went to the movie in the first place...?

Animals constantly live, and survive jeopardy. Recent BBC documentaries show animals dying, as well as thriving.

Part of the challenge set to Pi, during the movie was his relationship with the Tiger as much for the tigers survival as it was for his own survival.

I assume 'gorilla's in the mist' was off you list too.

Why do critics always make me want to smack them in the face?

BTW please respond the challenge of reviewing a movie that you enjoyed, the last one I can remember you enjoying was Garfield - which goes against you list....
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
Scott, your movie reviews are more entertaining than most movies these days.

I would really, really like you to see Silver Linings Playbook. I got the screener for some stupid SAG-AFRTRA thing, and - here's my mistake - assumed it was good as it is up for Numerous Prestigious Awards. The characters are all fatally flawed and unlikeable. The Big Finale (spoiler alert) is a Big Let Down.

I will pay your way or send you the DVD, but only if you promise to burn after viewing. Not because I'd get in trouble with SAG, but because no one should be tortured this way.

ps. I think you will love !$%*!$%*! purely on this line alone "Please, don't call me !$%*!$%*!. Just Hitch. Hold the !$%*!$%*!$%*! movie absolute: nothing where San Francisco gets blown up or destroyed. Too close to home.
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
Many movies have a target audience: and it is the subset of humanity which never feels "good" unless they are thoroughly miserable. As I grew older one of the things I learned is that misery is a choice - and, for whatever reasons, there are many people who make that choice.

Thx you may have saved me even more time and money. :)
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
best movie reviews ever...
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
I read - and hated - the book.

I would only see the movie if it had a Bollywood song and dance ending, and then I would only watch the song and dance ending.

I don't have any cool (sincerely!) criteria for not seeing a movie except that I work hard for my money and if I'm going to pay it to be entertained, well, for me that means leaving the theater happier than I went in.

If I want to share in humanity's suffering, I'll read the news.
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
As a general rule, I avoid seeing award-winning movies.
 
 
Jan 22, 2013
[ I have four absolutes when it comes to movies. I won't watch a movie that has any of the following elements: ]

For me, the deal-breaker is someone being buried alive. Oh, and anything with Jim Carrey in it.

I do applaud your willingness to walk out of a movie that you are not enjoying. I know people who will go see a movie, dislike it a bit, go see the sequel, dislike IT a lot, and then go see Part 3 because, after all, they saw the first two, why not the third? People's dedication to sunk costs always amazes me.
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
I can't wait for your review of "Zero Dark Thirty."
 
 
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
This review further convinced me I need to see Lincoln.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
This review further convinced me I need to see Lincoln.
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
> I have four absolutes when it comes to movies. I won't watch a movie that has any of the following elements:

1.Prison theme.
2.People at risk of drowning.
3.Animals in jeopardy.
4.Someone gets tied to a chair and tortured.
Life of Pi came close to including all four of my absolutes.

So they're not really absolutes, but more like general guidelines.

My guidelines for movies to avoid include:
1. Comedies where a main character wears a fat suit or dresses like the opposite gender
2. Horror movies with a general theme of dismemberment
3. Sci Fi moves featuring mutant animals
3. Action movies starring Stephen Segal
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
I take it you didn't like (or didn't see) the remake of the James Bond movie "Casino Royale" with Daniel Craig, since it violates your rule #4. It was a really good movie, though. Sometimes rules are made to be broken.

I didn't see Les Miz the movie because I did see Les Miz the stageplay in SF many years ago. Once, believe me, was enough. The pain continues to this day.

Of the movies you mentioned, I have only seen one: Titanic. It was schmaltzy and contrived, agreed, but the Kate Winslet nude scene made the movie worth watching. For those of you who haven't seen that scene, you can see a low-def version online.

I didn't see the other three you mention because I felt there was too much contrived hype surrounding them for them to be anything of value. Another one I didn't see for the same reason was the Daniel Day-Lewis film "There Will Be Blood." I don't think I missed anything, but if you would be so kind, Scott, please watch as much of it as you can stand and then write a review of it. I think it would be similar to Les Miz; after all, "There Will Be Blood" was based on a book by Upton Sinclair.

Your movie reviews are incredible. My only hope is that your friends continue to talk you into seeing really terrible movies so you can give us more of these. Were I your friend, I would encourage you to see some chick flicks. Torture is not limited to being tied to a chair.

I believe that with your flair for comedy and your innate differences in taste from those with whom you associate, you could begin a second career as a movie critic. I wait with great anticipation for the next phase of your creative life to begin.

 
 
Jan 21, 2013
For the best reason to skip this movie, check out movie-bob's review over at

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escape-to-the-movies

It's a good idea to watch his insightful 5 min videos about anything. He's pretty interesting.

His review was enough to make me skip the film. not in-spite of the ending but because of it.

-- Spoiler Alert --



Life of Pi is a movie that tells you that you should believe in god, because it's more fun that way. -- Bob Chipman
 
 
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013

[4. Someone gets tied to a chair and tortured. - Soctt]

I'm just wondering - did you walk out on the "Avengers" after you saw Scarlett Johannson tied to a chair?
 
 
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
I seldom see movies in the theaters. Too expensive. I wait for them on DVD and get them from the local library. If a movie is so superficial that it must necessarily be blown up in size to be appreciated, I do not need to see it. That does not include movies where the action and noise are its draw, but those are not my kind of movies, anyway. The writing and plot are the important things. Even rotten movies have excellent production values these days, but they are just gilded turds. Life is too short for me at this point to waste.

If our library has nothing in English that I want to see, I sometimes take a foreign movie. There have been some excellent ones that I would not have seen, otherwise. Foreign made comedies in particular are, it seems to me, better made and more sophisticated even when burlesque in nature. For instance, I actually bought the movie KITCHEN STORIES and watch it a few times a year.

And I agree with a previous post that CONTACT deserved a no-go. Read the book, do not see the movie, splashy as it is. The book has a depth and richness that no movie can attain and yet make money through popular consumption. I was very disappointed in the movie, as it seemed merely a vehicle for Jodie Foster. Carl Sagan deserved better.
 
 
 
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