I found this film ultimately unsatisfying.
Granted, it is visually stunning, but that in itself doesn't justify the running time. I found myself wondering what the point of the film was at all.
If I'm right,it is a pseudo mystical / philosophical propaganda piece, which suggests that it is better to hold tight to a fantastical, improbable story of triumph over adversity (ie your faith in God, whoever that is), if it gives you hope and gets you through life - rather than to endure a harsh, unpalatable reality.
The whole film is geared up to asking the question of the viewer - which do you prefer, the outlandish fantasy or the grim truth? I'm not sure it's even answerable, unless you have a faith which you want to reaffirm. So when the question came, I thought "Is that it? Is that what you've been waiting to pose"?
The majority of the film covers a boy's struggle to survive a shipwreck, cast away on a small lifeboat in the company of a Bengal tiger. The story is told in retrospective by the boy (Pi) as an adult. It is clear to the viewer that this is a tall tale, from Pi's general style of story telling (a colourful childhood, an eccentric swimming-obsessed uncle). We can tell that his style is somewhat unreliable. Therefore I didn't exactly buy into the survival story. I wasn't rooting for him and there was no emotional attachment to the character, in the way there would have been if this was a straight forward recounting of what happened.
What I was thinking was "when is this part going to end, so that I can get on with finding out what's really going on in the film"? By that, I don't mean that I was particularly interested in the true survival story, which when it came was pretty grim (although that might have been a more interesting film!). I really wanted to know why the film maker thought it was so important to take us on this fantastical journey.
When the answer came, in all its semi-philosophical shallowness, it wasn't worth the wait.