Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 44 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 44
  2. Negative: 0 out of 44
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 20, 2012
    100
    Is it real? Is this whole story real? I refuse to ask that question. Life of Pi is all real, second by second and minute by minute, and what it finally amounts to is left for every viewer to decide. I have decided it is one of the best films of the year.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 21, 2012
    75
    Life of Pi is a curious juxtaposition of the mundane and the majestic; a film that strives for something grander than what it perhaps achieves.
  3. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Nov 21, 2012
    75
    Even at his best, Sharma doesn't have sufficient acting chops - or enough Hanks-like charisma - to hold the screen alone for more than 70 minutes with the CGI Richard Parker (as well as a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a rat who quickly become food for the ravenous tiger).
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 20, 2012
    88
    Lee uses 3D with the delicacy and lyricism of a poet. You don't just watch this movie, you live it.
  5. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 21, 2012
    50
    It's a slow-moving fable, with enough story and substance to make for one amazing Imax short. Instead the material is stretched beyond its limits into a long, repetitive and often stagnant 127-minute feature film.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Nov 21, 2012
    75
    Lee may, in the end, be too balanced a filmmaker to give Life of Pi the extra spin of lyric delirium it sorely needs. It's a sane movie about an essentially deranged situation.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 20, 2012
    75
    Reducing Life of Pi to a homily does it a disservice. Lee gives the framing story short shrift and concentrates on visualizing the inner tale with as much detail and power as possible.
  8. Reviewed by: Lisa Schwarzbaum
    Nov 20, 2012
    83
    Lee's bigger theme isn't God or survival, but the awesome adventure of making the imaginary visible, the adventure of making movies.
  9. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 23, 2012
    80
    Mr. Lee's film is stronger as a visual experience - especially in 3-D - than an emotional one, but it has a final plot twist that may also change what you thought you knew about the ancient art of storytelling.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 20, 2012
    88
    A spectacular high-seas epic that employs technology brilliantly and underscores the power of a vividly told story.
  11. 100
    Pi has designed his own terrarium to keep from staring directly into the abyss. It's not denial. It's faith in something else: the transformative power of storytelling. The film is transcendent.
  12. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Nov 20, 2012
    50
    The movie invites you to believe in all kinds of marvelous things, but it also may cause you to doubt what you see with your own eyes - or even to wonder if, in the end, you have seen anything at all.
  13. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 20, 2012
    75
    Life of Pi, Yann Martel's beautiful little book about a young man and the sea and a tiger, has transformed into a big, imposing and often lovely 3-D experience.
  14. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Nov 21, 2012
    67
    Life of Pi, ironically, soars when it confines itself to land and sea; when it grasps for the celestial, the film goes beyond its reach.
  15. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Nov 20, 2012
    88
    A character in Yann Martel's novel "Life of Pi" tells us this will be a story to make us believe in God. The film version written by David Magee and directed by Ang Lee may do that – you'll decide for yourself – but it will definitely make you believe in the power of cinema.
  16. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 30, 2012
    100
    Meticulous care is evident in every aspect of the film. All three actors playing Pi are outstanding.
  17. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 19, 2012
    50
    I felt like I'd been invited to a seven-course dinner, and all seven turned out to be cake – and then the host insisted on delivering a lecture about how cake would bring me closer to God.
  18. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Nov 21, 2012
    100
    Every once in a long while, the right director comes across the right project at just the right moment, and things so often discordant fall into perfect harmony.
  19. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Nov 20, 2012
    75
    Life of Pi is spellbinding while it lasts. Lee's film can be appreciated as many things -- a post-Darwinian meditation on coexistence as the key to survival, a reflection on the spiritual nature of suffering and transcendence, a beguiling bait-and-switch on the vagaries of belief itself.
  20. Reviewed by: Carrie Rickey
    Nov 21, 2012
    75
    Much as I was moved by the film, I have one reservation and one warning. The framing device of the older Pi recounting his story to the author (which worked so well in Martel's novel) is intrusive and significantly detracts from the story.
  21. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Nov 21, 2012
    80
    Though the film's setup trudges and its closing is too pat, that hour or so on the raft is something special, and few would dive into the story's soul as Lee does.
  22. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Nov 21, 2012
    50
    The movie's energy peters out in a series of book-club conversations about divine will, the power of storytelling, and the resilience of the human spirit. The ending's pious dullness is enough to make you wish you were back on that lifeboat, where the most pressing questions weren't spiritual but gastronomic: What's on the menu for lunch, and what can I do to make sure it isn't me?
  23. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Oct 1, 2012
    100
    Pi is a giant leap forward, outward and upward in expanding the resources of the evolving medium of movies. Magical realism was rarely so magical and never before so real.
  24. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Nov 20, 2012
    80
    The look of the film is jaw-dropping at times, beautiful to behold. If the story... can't quite keep pace with the look of the film (and, alas, it can't) it will take you awhile to notice.
  25. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Nov 21, 2012
    88
    Life of Pi works seamlessly on two levels. With grace, imagination and stunning visual acuity, it explores Martel's twin themes of faith and the power of storytelling. It's also a thrilling action adventure.
  26. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 20, 2012
    80
    The movie works on a bedrock level that many ostensible action films forget. Let New Age viewers in your crowd get misty-eyed - there's plenty here for anyone.
  27. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Nov 21, 2012
    80
    The result is a movie built upon big ideas -- and timely ones, too, delivering a message of understanding in this frustrating age of great intolerance -- but also a great story and, thanks to Lee, a wonderfully satisfying cinematic journey.
  28. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Nov 23, 2012
    75
    It proves the power of a good story, both to entertain us and to allow us to process unpleasant truths.
  29. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Nov 26, 2012
    90
    Life of Pi, at its best, celebrates the idiosyncratic wonders and dangers of raw, ravaging nature, and Lee wrings more than enough meaning from the excitement of that spectacle; we need nothing higher. [26 Nov.2012, p.86]
  30. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 30, 2012
    90
    This exquisitely beautiful adaptation of Yann Martel's castaway saga has a sui generis quality that's never less than beguiling, even if its fable-like construction and impeccable artistry come up a bit short in terms of truly gripping, elemental drama.
  31. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 28, 2012
    83
    In its finer moments, however, Lee translates the book's wondrous prose into grand visual conceits meant for the big screen. Posited as a story that "will make you believe in god," instead it has the power to confirm one's faith in the cinematic experience.
  32. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Nov 20, 2012
    100
    There are always moral crosscurrents in Lee's most provocative work, but so magical and mystical is this parable, it's as if the filmmaker has found the philosopher's stone.
  33. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 21, 2012
    91
    Never has 3-D illusion been used to such pure storytelling effect.
  34. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Nov 20, 2012
    40
    Life of Pi manages occasional spiritual wonder through its 3-D visuals but otherwise sinks like a stone.
  35. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    Nov 21, 2012
    91
    The larger messages about spirituality often seem forced, and it's more compelling to focus on Lee's visceral cinematic experience than on the larger, fuzzier messages Martel's story conveys about humanity's connection with God.
  36. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    Nov 23, 2012
    80
    The script I did question; it takes awhile to get going, and it feels strangely flat at the very end. But in between, Lee is very skillfully employing cinema's most advanced digital techniques in the service of an adventure yarn that is gloriously old-fashioned - and often just glorious.
  37. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Nov 20, 2012
    88
    As enchanting as it is ambitious.
  38. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Dec 17, 2012
    100
    To produce a coherent film from Martel's tricky novel would be achievement enough, but Ang Lee has extracted something beautiful, wise and, at times, miraculous.
  39. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Sep 28, 2012
    91
    Deeply resonant and soulful, Life Of Pi, is a harrowing journey of survival, self-discovery and connection that both inspires and awes in equal measure.
  40. Reviewed by: Matt Mueller
    Nov 25, 2012
    100
    A riot of saturated colour and delirious imagination, Ang Lee's adap radiates spirituality. But it's also a simple, thrilling and gently uplifting tale of a boy, a boat and a tiger. Take the plunge.
  41. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Nov 20, 2012
    60
    The story of Pi and Richard Parker already has the clean simplicity of a myth and really doesn't require significant elaboration, but following in the footsteps of the source material, the film provides elaboration anyway, demonstrating a condescension to the audience that dulls the spectacle it punctuates.
  42. Reviewed by: R. Kurt Osenlund
    Oct 1, 2012
    75
    The second act shifts the film from a lazy and comfy litany of introductions to a riveting fantasia of pure cinema, wherein Lee paints an oft-wordless picture of nature's harshness and grace, the perfect arena for Pi to have a Christ-like coming of age.
  43. Reviewed by: Tom Shone
    Sep 30, 2012
    80
    Hollywood has been waiting for this movie. Get ready for the year of the Tiger.
  44. Reviewed by: Vadim Rizov
    Sep 30, 2012
    60
    Ang Lee's adaptation of Yann Martel's mega-selling novel Life Of Pi is technically adept, mildly engaging and thematically pedantic.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 661 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 13 out of 163
  1. Nov 23, 2012
    1
    Dumb. Pretentious. Not conducive to willing suspension of disbelief. No redeeming qualities. I can't comprehend why anyone would think Ang Lee is a genius. Every one of his movies is boring. This one also put me to sleep. Full Review »
  2. Jan 9, 2013
    10
    This movie is extraordinary. The effects, the plot, the acting, the drama, the humor, "the everything" is perfect. To put this book on the big screen is a difficult task but Ang Lee tried and he succeeded. I recommend this movie to every living soul out there! Full Review »
  3. Nov 22, 2012
    9
    This was my favorite movie so far this year. While it may not convince you that God does exists it certainly tells a riveting allegorical (or possible allegorical) tale of survival. The music and visuals are sublime and there are moments of real emotional turmoil through the film and exceptional moments of hope. It may not be for everyone but i was certainly willing to go along for the spiritual and philosophical ride. Full Review »