Life of Pi Blu-ray Review
A truly epic movie, set to become a classic and in 3D, reference quality material.
PictureThese comments relate to the UK 2 disc 3D SKU, and to be honest, you really need to see this movie in 3D to fully appreciate the genius of the 3D animation and production. This is the best 3D live action movie I have seen so far, and replaces Avatar as my reference disc against which to judge all others. From the clever opening titles to the ingenious use of different aspect ratios - with 3D objects spilling into the masking, this movie looks simply stunning. For the most part, we get a 1.85:1 picture, but this goes from 1.33:1 to 2.40:1 at various points to better fit the scene and to allow for more creativity in the FX generation.
The AVC-MPEG transfer is every bit as flawless as the original picture and there is no sign of cross talk or other 3D nasties like solarisation or poor contrast. It is possible to discern where the various shots were filmed, as there are subtle differences in the treatment and photography styles between the scenes filmed in Canada, Taiwan and India. DoP Claudio Miranda totally understands what good 3D needs, in terms of depth of field and background composition, and combining this with the superb CGI leads to a realistic and engaging picture. At times, it really does feel like you are looking through a window into another world – surely the holy grail of 3D. The attention to detail shown in the CGI is simply overwhelming, with whole teams tasked with animating just one animal. Imagine being the guy responsible for animating Richard Parker’s testicles! Occasionally the animals come across as a little unreal – Zebras jumping from ships into life rafts etc. but this is within the context of the story.
My only minor reservations therefore revolve around the sinking of the ship in the storm, where the full action and terror is a little too muted for my taste, leaving to a slightly unreal atmosphere. Overall, it is hard to fault this movie in terms of picture quality, but it really does need 3D viewing to come to life.
SoundMychael Danna’s score one both a Golden Globe and an Oscar, and it is easy to hear why. The meld of Indian and classical orchestral is stunning, varying between the high drama, high energy scenes, and the lighter, comedic moments with ease. The music sits squarely in the front of the 7.1 DTS-HD MA stream, while vocal remain firmly held in the centre of the image. Around this swirls an energetic, but not quite as dynamic as some, effects track. Compare this to something as huge as Battleship and you will find this wanting, but up against The Hobbit it feels big and well produced. Spaciousness is not as apparent as some 7.1 soundtracks, although effects are well placed. I really have to knock a point off for these niggles, as there are better soundtracks out there, but on the other hand, there is nothing here to detract from the movie as a whole.
ExtrasTo watch all the extras, you need to juggle both discs, as the 3D extras are included on the 3D disc – with the option to watch in 2D, while the 2D only extras are on the 2D disc. It is nice to see some 3D extras, such as the CGI progression and deleted scenes and the option to watch these in 2D only is a neat piece of disc menu coding. A shame therefore, the 3D detection is quite slow, leading to a protracted black screen as the disc initially loads. This is without doubt the slowest loading disc I have come across to date, taking anything up to 4 minutes to spin up. I used to be able to rewind a VHS in that time! On the 2D disc, we get more traditional extras in the shape of the now standard making of featurettes, covering animation, production and post production. This is joined by a stills library and storyboarding. All is in HD and produced to a high standard. No complaints about the extras then, just the time to get the disc to play.
VerdictA truly epic movie, set to become a classic and in 3D, reference quality material. The for the most part gentle story may not be to everyone’s taste, but it remains a thought provoking and spiritually deep movie, with some light comedy thrown in along the way. Technically a tour-de-force, with stunning picture and audio quality, looking particularly strong in 3D, but no slouch in 2D either. Anybody who thought 3D was dead needs to postpone judgment until they have had a chance to watch this movie. Highly recommended.
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