20th Century Fox has been taking an unconventional approach to themarketing for “Life Of Pi” so far. After a showing at CinemaCon that wowed delegates and press alike, the studio chose to eschew more traditional trailers in favor of showing three brief clips from Ang Lee‘s much-anticipated adaptation of Yann Martel‘s beloved best-seller in front of their big 3D summer releases, to emphasize the dimensionalized aspect of the picture. And so footage was shown in front of “Prometheus,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” But they had to release something for a broader audience at some point, and unheralded, the first proper trailer for the film arrived online early this morning via Apple.
And from the off, it’s clear we’re in the hands of a master. Lee might be coming off one of the least successful films of his career, critically and commercially, with “Taking Woodstock,” but one should never give up on the director, and the promo has a number of glorious shots early on — the titular Pi (newcomer Suraj Sharma) diving through a sunken ship, passing a stricken zebra trying to swim to safety; the boy watching from underwater as the boat sinks; the calm after the storm the next morning, as Pi peeks under the canvas of the boat to find the tiger that’ll be his companion on the adventure. It’s strikingly composed stuff, and Lee’s clearly got an excellent handle on how to shoot for 3D — we bet some of this looks spectacular with an added dimension.
But while the shots are stunningly composed, are we alone in kind of hating the look of the thing? From the obviously digital vibe of those night-time scenes to the “Lovely Bones“-esque color palette of the morning after, to the cheap UV glow of the blue whale, we’re far from sold on some of DoP Claudio Miranda (“The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button,” “Tron: Legacy“)’s aesthetic choices here. We hope that it’s simply an effect of watching it in on a computer screen, and that it’s more impressive in a theater with 3D glasses on, but we’re not quite doing backflips over the look of the thing in the way that some commentators are.
Still, we’d follow Lee to the ends of the earth (even his failures are interesting), and the source material is a good yarn, if not quite the family-friendly adventure that Fox is selling it as, so we’re looking forward to seeing more. But what do you think? Are you more sold than we are? Let us know in the comments section. Irffan Khan, Gerard Depardieu and Tabu co-star in the film, which will hit theaters on November 21st, and you can watch the trailer below, or in HD over at Apple.