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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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+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
bwahaha! your friends got payback after you pulled the practical joke on them to watch Les Mis!
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
I don't like "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" because of its disregard for the laws of physics. When you jump off a building you're supposed to accelerate at 32 feet/sec/sec -- you don't land like a cotton ball. When an actor in any movie lands lightly after a big fall it makes me cringe, and I end up not paying attention to the next 30 seconds of the story. Similarly, the decelerations in "Iron Man" and "The Hulk" were very off-putting. Other examples include just about any jumping car stunt.

Ang Lee should have to pay a pennance to the laws of physics by doing a movie where the gravitational acceleration is far greater than normal. His characters should have to crawl around like slime creatures on the surface of Jupiter for 2 hours as punishment.

The laws of physics are also routinely ignored with guns. Take the victims of gunshots in "Django Unchained", for example. Several times a handgun is used to shoot a guy, and then he's launched backwards off his feet for some reason. But notice the shooter's hand doesn't move backwards an inch! That really bothers me. The worst offense in "Django Unchained" is a scene near the end, when a shot is made from some stairs down at someone and they violently fly off backwards -- but at a 60 degree angle to line of the shot! And of course there is zero recoil at the shooter's hand. This is just stupid.

Thanks, I feel better now.

 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
Now I'm hoping you keep going on this movie review theme. I watch very few movies - and also can't handle violence and cruelty. Movies everyone else seems to be raving about leave me feeling sick. I really wanted to watch Slum Dog Millionaire - because I'm fascinated by everything India. I tried twice - and just couldn't do it. Child torture is way beyond by capacity to watch in any sense.

People who love movies enough to become professional reviewers must be able to distance themselves form stuff like that in a way that I just can't fathom. There are rarely adequate warnings about what really is portrayed. The word "Powerful" is often a good clue.

My kids watch a lot of movies - so I tend to rely on their judgment these days. "It was a great movie, Mon. You shouldn't watch it." They did think I might be able to get past the horror scenes in Slum Dog Millionaire enough to appreciate the movie - so they aren't completely reliable. But they come closer than any other reviewer (besides Scott Adams).
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
I am here on an official humanitarian mission to cheer you up Scott. Do an Internet search for: "Man reportedly outsources his own job to China, watches cat videos"
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
My one absolute no go is:

Demonic possession - drawers flying out of dressers, etc.

All other scary movie tactics I can explain away, but the demonic possession stuff freaks me out.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Jan 21, 2013
Titanic and The English Patient (though the book is OK) should have Meet Joe Black and Contact (with Jodie Foster) written along them :).

Mentioning only "high profile" ones, of course.

Scott, could you please write a review for a movie you have enjoyed - even if it is an old one. Just for a comparison. And for the info what to watch, no doubt.

PS: Titanic was the !$%*!$%* - taking into account the level of its publicity. I despise everyone and anyone who thinks otherwise. As I am not as smart as Scott Adams, I walked out only after an hour and a half, and after few years even watched the final 10 minutes.
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
Scott, I seriously believe you should have taken Spielberg's hint and just stopped watching movies altogether. Some people just aren't built to appreciate the movie experience.

On the other hand, your movie reviews are awesome, so carry on.
 
 
Jan 21, 2013
Sounds like I made a good decision to skip Life of Pi. The last good movie I saw was Skyfall. Action, entertainment, good plot, and great camera work.
 
 
 
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