“Life of Pi” — Yann Martel’s spectacular novel about survival after a shipwreck becomes a compelling drama, thanks to CGI. Luckily, we have CGI and a director like Ang Lee, who isn’t afraid of the technology that couldn’t save his version of “The Hulk.” Here, he uses the technology to tell the highly visual tale of a young man stranded on a pair of life rafts alongside circus animals. The tiger proves quite ferocious, but the pair have to work together if they will ever make it out. Great photography and very little dialogue combine for a cinematic experience that loses a little something on your TV screen.
“Hitchcock” — The idea of a film about the making of “Psycho” is very appealing. The casting of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren as Mr. and Mrs. Hitchcock makes this a sure thing. Unfortunately, these elements do not combine to hatch a watchable flick.
“Hercules/Xena Season 4” — This is a mixed bag. Xena loses some of its fun quotient in this season, as a morose Xena tries to save her companion Gabrielle. The result is a little too much melodrama and not as much action. Hercules cruises into season 4 with a greater accent on the fighting and some clever story telling that includes two spoofs of films, “Some Like it Hot” and “Dirty Dancing.” There are also some high-spirited episodes directed by Bruce Campbell, who also returns as Autolycus, the Prince of Thieves.
“Ripper Street” — BBC cop dramas are a huge hit on cable and this series represents the best that the genre can aspire to be. The story focuses on the crime team that failed to catch Jack the Ripper and they are left with keeping the peace while restoring faith in their precinct in the department. Dark and historically accurate.