“Life of Pi,” the latest masterpiece from Ang Lee, is a spectacular film that was, at one point, billed as being the next “Avatar.”  This, in no doubt, was largely a result of the spectacular special effects.  But thiks movie was so much more than a special effects show.  Based on the Yann Martel novel of the same name, this was largely due to its stellar casts which included Suraj Sharma, Irfran Khan, and Gerard Depardieu and (even moreso) to the directing of Lee.

But before I dwell too much on what I liked about this movie, I should start with the story.  It began with the older version of Pi telling his story to someone in his kitchen, with a story that began with his childhood (growing up in a zoo).  Eventually, his family decided to leave India (shortly after he met his love interest).  This led to a shipwreck at sea, where Pi was the only human survivor.  He was shortly joined by a tiger, a zebra, a hyena, and a monkey (all of them but the tiger being eaten for the sun can go down again).  Overtime, Pi and the tiger learned to have a peaceful coexistence.

Aside from the special effects, this movie was turned from a good movie into a great one thanks to the amazing directing of Ang Lee.  This is the fifth movie of his I know for sure I would consider to be a masterpiece (after Sense and Sensibility, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain and Lust Caution).  Beyond that, the acting was also very good (though not anything that deserves any special praise).  But the scenery was absolutely gorgeous in this movie.  No doubt caused by the CGI, it’s impossible not to appreciate a scene like the one with the blue whale.

On the other hand, this movie did revolve around a theme that I’m not crazy about (the existence of God and the importance of faith).  Neither one is a theme I care about much at all, to tell you the truth.  Also, the movie isn’t that fast paced.  But no one watches an Ang Lee movie for the pacing.  He’s a master at cinematic storytelling, but even his thriller “Lust, Caution” was slower paced than others of its genre.

Beyond that, I can’t resist the allure of this movie.  Not that I would watch it repeatedly, but it’s not the type of movie that a person would want to watch repeatedly.  The story has way too much depth to it to qualify as mindless popcorn entertainment.  And I love that about this movie.  I love it enough to warrant five stars out of five.