3D or not 3D, that is the question.

The wet eye of the tiger: Richard Parker swims to the lifeboat

The wet eye of the tiger: Richard Parker swims to the lifeboat

Okay, lame title on this occasion I know. But at least you know what I’m going to talk about now.

Last Saturday I saw Life of Pi, which recently opened in cinemas to deafening critical and mass praise. At least, I think I saw it, this was the first film I saw in 3D. It wasn’t through choice, my companion had booked the tickets for the film in 3D so I had to either like it or lump it.

I’ve always kept the revolution of 3D at arm’s length. Even as heavily into cinema and films as I am it’s just never appealed to me. Who in their right minds would want to sit in a cinema for nearly two hours wearing plastic glasses? What about that emotional ‘connectivity’ that directors spend their entire careers trying to achieve with you, would that not get lost whilst you’re sitting in your seat with your arms out trying to touch graphics and images that aren’t actually there? Hmm. It’s a popular debate, for sure.

Perhaps it’s more about the film you’re going to watch. Seriously, you don’t need to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in 3D, do you.

Life of Pi tells the story of a family who after deciding that their business running a zoo is failing, pack up the life they have been living in India and emigrate to Canada. They take their animals with them on the trans-Pacific journey during which one night, a treacherous storm wrecks and destroys the cargo liner they are travelling on, taking with it the lives of the whole family, save for Pi (Suraj Sharma, in a stonking debut), the film’s young protagonist. He manages to salvage a lifeboat in order to save himself and several hours later after the storm has passed, Pi wakes up in the boat to find he is not alone. A zebra, an orang-utan, a hyena and quite possibly the greatest CGI-created tiger in cinema have all stowed away with him.

What follows after the food chain has taken its natural cause and effect is a story of hope, determination and trust between Pi and the tiger – wonderfully named Richard Parker due to a paperwork mix up with the name of the hunter who caught him originally – as they embark on a journey of self-discovery; an adventure that will see both teenage boy and big cat learning to live and look after each other.

The trouble I felt with watching it in 3D though was that I might as well have been a pre-emotion-chip-Data, because emotionally I really struggled to connect with it. My companion sniffled her way through various emotional moments whilst I sat thinking, am I supposed to be crying too from behind my plastic tinted 3D glasses? I don’t know. There’s too many meerkats coming at me.

Visually, it is nothing short of spectacular. The breath-taking scene involving the humpback whale rising through the surface will cause the eyes to moisten and a lump to form in the windpipe. The CGI work of the cinematography is jaw-dropping with the level of detail, scope and fluidity of the animals leaving you in awe. The 3D certainly enhances these scenes, the flying fish being a wonderful scene to watch in 3D. But it’s during the interview scenes (the film is primarily told in flashback by an older Pi (Slumdog Millionaire’s Irrfan Khan) that don’t warrant 3D, and this is where I struggled trying to connect to a character recounting the incredible story of his past, whilst wearing 3D glasses.

I’m not dismissing the film in the slightest and in point of fact what I did manage to take away with me afterwards I will treasure. But I intend to see it again in 2D, or ‘normal’ as I call it so I can see it properly. I found myself too busy looking and marvelling at all the animals and scenery to actually take note of any acting. This upset me a bit upon my exit of the cinema, I felt as though I had just watched a visually astounding film but not really connected with the characters and their stories because the 3D prevented me from doing this. That’s just me, I guess.

I’d be interested in seeing something like Finding Nemo when it’s re-released this summer for the 3D market, but for a film as powerful as this, sadly 3D is not for me. Ah well. Les Mis tomorrow so it’s all good… And yes, in ‘normal’ 2D!

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