Critics are stunned by the visuals in Life of Pi, Ang Lee's take on the novel about a boy and a tiger struggling to survive at sea. There's some debate, however, over whether the film's story and grand theological questions hold up to its vision:
- The Los Angeles Times calls the film a "masterpiece": It's "a grand adventure so cinematically bold, and a spiritual voyage so quietly profound," that you hope it never ends, writes Betsy Sharkey. "So magical and mystical is this parable, it's as if the filmmaker has found the philosopher's stone."
- Roger Ebert is equally impressed, calling the movie one of the year's best. It's "a miraculous achievement of storytelling and a landmark of visual mastery," not to mention "a moving spiritual achievement, a movie whose title could have been shortened to 'life.'" As for the use of 3D, "I've never seen [it] better employed," he writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- AO Scott gushes that "there are images in Life of Pi that are so beautiful, so surprising, so right that I hesitate to describe them," calling the setting "one of the great achievements of digital cinema." Yet the film is "simultaneously about everything and very little indeed. Instead of awe, it gives us 'awww, how sweet,'" he notes in the New York Times.
- At Slate, Dana Stevens agrees: The film is "'immersive'—even if what we’re being immersed in feels at times like a vat of warm caramel." Her recommendation: "See it stoned."