The New York Times' review of Ang Lee's Life of Pi is one of the few around that's willing to speak ill of it. Everyone else loves it! Rolling Stone said that "Every sight and sound is astounding", NY Daily News' high praise said that "there should be no argument that Lee has made one of the year's most impressive films," and Time Magazine said "Magical realism was rarely so magical and never before so real."

It is precisely this 'reality' and the line that the film treads which the NY Times took issue with. Life of Pi is based on a book of the same name by Yann Martel, about a man telling a Canadian novelist a story from his youth, in which he survived a shipwreck that his zoo-keeping parents weren't so lucky with. Subsequently, finding himself stranded in a lifeboat with a tiger. 

The review considers Pi to be largely focussed on theological and deistic concerns, describing Pi's 'spirituality' as "slack-jawed piety" and cynically commenting that "He likes them all [religions]." While the NYTimes doesn't seem to like that part of the movie too much, it's Pi perogative, even telling the Canadian that his story "will make you believe in God." Forcing the audience into the suspension of disbelief is the task of all film makers, and the reviewer considers the concept of God to be something that the audience inherently disbelieves. Of course, this may be the case, but Ang Lee and everyone else involved in the film seem to have truly taken 'God' to heart. The quality of the digital imagery conjuring the creation of the CGI tiger have received the highest praise for the film, the NY Times described it as "almost miraculous vividness," continuing "His eyes, his fur, the rippling of his muscles and the skeleton beneath his skin, all of it is so perfectly rendered that you will swear that [the tiger] is real." 

Recreating one of 'God's creatures' biblically (and if the Life of Pi reminds us of anything else, it's Noah's Ark) is surely a great tribute to His craft, and the sheer beauty of the rest of the production backs up that adoration. It is clearly not the CGI that the review takes issue with, rather it's the "insisting on the benevolence of the universe in the way that "Life of Pi" does can feel more like a result of delusion or deceit than of earnest devotion." If a movie that's as beautiful as this is not an example of the benevolence of the universe then we don't know what is.