Let’s just get this out of the way: making snap judgements about a movie based on ten minutes of footage is a bit ridiculous, but that said, first impressions mean a lot. It wasn’t a fun week for Peter Jackson at CinemaCon who saw his 48 fps preview of “The Hobbit” heavily scrutinized, with many (including pushover fanboys) not finding favor with the hyper-realistic results of the new fancy schmanzy high-def footage. So today, Fox must’ve felt some butterflies when they decided to show footage from Ang Lee‘s big budget adaptation of “Life Of Pi,” a movie that has been flying well under the radar so far. Well, not anymore.
To put it bluntly, “Life Of Pi” blew the roof off. “…put that footage as a trailer in front of ‘The Avengers‘ and every single person would want to see this film,” one attendee told Pete Hammond at Deadline. Pretty remarkable praise especially considering that the footage that was screened featured unfinished effects, sound and a temp score. Anne Thompson at TOH!, added to the positive word about the film saying, “An Oscar contender this film will likely be.” But the awards talk didn’t end there. Anthony Breznican of Entertainment Weekly tweeted, “Ok, so Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’ will be getting a best picture Oscar nomination. The footage screened at #CinemaCon could claim one for short!”
“LIFE OF PI footage absolutely wrecked me. I cried. Choking up thinking about it. This doesn’t happen to me. The master at work,” Moises Chiullan of AICN tweeted. Meanwhile, Brent Lang at The Wrap added, “Floored, just floored by ‘Life of Pi’…wonder if lack of sleep is resulting in collapse of snarky genes.”
Surely this is good news for fans of Yann Martel‘s acclaimed and beloved novel, who have been waiting for the big screen version, particularly as it has gone through years in development and in and out of the hands of a few different directors. And certainly the story — an off-beat tale centering on the shipwrecked son of an Indian zookeeper who’s stuck on a lifeboat with a 450-pound bengal tiger in the middle of the Pacific Ocean — doesn’t seem immediately easily translatable to the big screen, but Lee seems to have cracked that nut. And it will certainly be one helluva comeback after the rather tepid “Taking Woodstock.”
But let’s just remember, this is 10 minutes of footage. Proclaiming Oscar or disaster on any film after ten minutes is premature, but there is no doubt that Lee has cooked up something that will be memorable at the very least. The winter movie season just got a bit more interesting. “Life Of Pi” opens on December 21st. And we have to wonder that based on today’s reaction, will “One Shot,” “This Is Forty” or “Zero Dark Thirty” all opening on the same weekend, move to get out of its way?