The Oscar-winning “Life of Pi” hits our shores Tuesday, among other DVDs. Star ratings are by Seattle Times movie reviewers, freelancers or wire services. For full reviews, search the movie title at seattletimes.com. Release dates are subject to change.
“Life of Pi” (PG): By design, this adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2001 novel takes viewers on an epic journey, but it also plunges them into a story and myriad sub-stories.
The tale of Piscine Patel, also known as Pi, begins with an Edenic panorama of his youth, spent in a small zoo run by his father in the former French colony of Pondicherry, India. When the Patels decide to move to Canada, taking the animals with them on a cargo ship, the trip is interrupted by a ruinous storm. Pi is thrown overboard, his only salvation a lifeboat he must share with the zoo’s ferocious Bengal tiger, Richard Parker.
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Pi’s journey with Richard Parker forms the spine of “Life of Pi,” which Oscar-winning director Ang Lee infuses with the graphic, stylized boldness of illustration and moments of dazzling poetry and intimacy. Proving that digital 3D photography need not sacrifice detail and brightness like it once did, Lee re-imagines Martel’s story with a vibrant, multicolored palette, the images and staging suggesting a state-of-the art cinematic fairy tale rather than a whiz-bang technical achievement.
“Cirque Du Soleil: Worlds Away” (PG): Elements from seven shows were used to create “Cirque,” which includes a romantic narrative thread involving a young woman (Erica Kathleen Linz) and aerialist (Igor Zaripov). “Some parts are a little scary … and the trance-like mood may not suit young attention spans,” says Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald. “But for older kids or grown-ups who’ve dreamed of joining the circus, it’s a wildly imaginative treat.”
“Smashed” (R): A happily married couple (Aaron Paul, Mary Elizabeth Winstead) head for hard times when one of them decides to quit drinking.
“Hitchcock”(PG-13): Good eeeevening. Director Sacha Gervasi presents Anthony Hopkins as the master of suspense and Helen Mirren as his wife during the making of “Psycho.”
“Sound City”(not rated): Dave Grohl’s ode to the legendary L.A. recording studio where Nirvana recorded “Nevermind.”
“Rise of the Guardians”(PG): Childhood legends, led by a buff Santa (voiced by Alec Baldwin), go up against the Boogeyman (Jude Law).
“This Must Be the Place”(R): A burned-out rock star (Sean Penn) searches for a Nazi fugitive.
The Washington Post