OSCAR-WINNING director Ang Lee experiences film-making in 3D for the first time with this handsome adaptation of the acclaimed novel by Yann Martel.

Life Of Pi is the first film since Avatar to fully exploit the eye-popping format, immersing us in the central character’s waterlogged odyssey, including a terrifying sequence in angry seas reminiscent of Titanic.

It's a tour-de-force of technical wizardry: a school of flying fish darts straight at the camera, causing us to duck and weave; the walls of a freshwater pool seem to stretch down into inky blackness forever and shards of moonlight break through overlapping tree canopies laden with chattering meerkats.

Yet all of this gorgeous wrapping would mean nothing without a deep emotional core, and once again, Lee elicits stunning performances from his ensemble leaving us choking back tears.

Pi recounts his youth as the son of a circus owner (Adil Hussain), who decided to sell the family business in Pondicherry and emigrate to Canada with his wife Gita (Tabu) and two boys.

A raging storm causes the Japanese freighter to overturn and young Pi (Suraj Sharma) escapes in a lifeboat along with a zebra, orangutan, hyena and a tiger called Richard Parker.

Sharma, who has never acted before, is mesmerising, plucking our heartstrings in close-up as his character is flung repeatedly through the emotional wringer.

Life Of Pi is a deeply moving tribute to the endurance of the human spirit.