USA Today reports that director Ang Lee has not only found a budget and a leading man for his adaptation of Life of Pi but also plans to shoot the film in 3-D. The budget comes courtesy of 20th Century Fox, the leading man comes courtesy of 17-year-old newcomer Suraj Sharma and the 3-D comes courtesy of Hollywood bandwagon jumping. But, Ang Lee assures us, 3-D in this film will immerse the viewer into the experience of being stuck in the middle of the ocean. Which is a much more interesting use of 3-D than what usually gets the treatment: cartoons and big-budget tentpole action films. Life of Pi, on the other hand, is a big-budget tentpole drama.
Yann Martel’s Life of Pi is a beloved novel about a boy stuck on a boat with some zoo animals (including a bengal tiger) for 227 days. I haven’t read the book, but I assume it’s 50 pages of lead-up followed by 10 pages of chewing and tearing followed by 296 pages of animal sounds and quiet decomposing.
While I’m being a bit glib about it, I’m actually a fan of Ang Lee. He’s never comfortable keeping in one place, so he’s never really made the same kind of film twice. I ignored the way-too-nostalgic-looking Taking Woodstock movie, but I loved the rest of the stuff he’s done in the 2000s. Especially Hulk, which I know makes me sound crazy but it’s one of the few comic book movies that strives for a bit more than just summer entertainment. So I think Lee’s one of the more interesting directors to take a crack at a project that’s eluded interesting auteurs like Alfonso Cuarón, Jean-Pierre Jeunet and, to a lesser extent, M. Night Shyamalan.