3 Dec 2018

Movie Review: 2.0 (3D): Great Potential Drowned in Special Effects Overload

A man takes a weary walk up the ladder of a cell phone tower and hangs himself. The next day, cell phones start disappearing from every person's addictive hands in Tamil Nadu. Now I wouldn't mind if that happened for real all over the world! We will need NO CELL PHONE DAYS soon, considering how many heads are bent down hypnotically like zombies at bright screens all over the planet. 

Meanwhile, genius scientist Dr Vaseegaran (Rajnikanth) has a new humanoid robot assistant Nila (Amy Jackson). As top telecom officials are brutally killed, the dismantled and banned Chitti may have to be brought back again. The mysterious, powerful villain (Akshay Kumar) then reveals himself...

Too Much Glitter
Heavy on visual effects and alarmingly careless in the story department (despite the amazing buildup), 2.0 (Hindi dubbed version), Shankar's big-budget sequel to his irrelevant, fun entertainer Endhiran/Robot (2010) isn't half as thrilling and enjoyable.

Yes, the film is technically impressive, the 3D execution is spot on. But the first half is wasted in needless extravagant, long-drawn, repetitive murderous vigilante-justice scenes (a Shankar norm), and by the time some good, grand parts briefly add some kick to the second half, it's too little, too late.

2.0: Second half marginally better
Pakshi Rajan, the villain played by an underutilized, effective Akshay Kumar, gets a much-needed, grounded backstory. But his character is soon hijacked by audience-pleasing Rajnikanth histrionics. The final giant vs giant faceoff at the stadium confrontation has its inspiring moments, but you know where it is going. A significant social message is blurred and made blunt in impact. How about the very real dangers of cell phones and cell phone towers on human beings too?

2.0: Not much fun!
2.0 has a few highs, but the endless VFX dazzle and noise, don't bring it home as a fun, light entertainer it could have been. Director Shankar again showcases his mega-vision capabilities but stumbles in executing what could have been the greatest mass audience entertainer of his career.

Watch 2.0 in 3D for the technical excellence, vintage Rajnikanth (especially as Chitti-Gone-Bad), a superb Akshay Kumar, competent Amy Jackson, and a few excellent set pieces. For a better story, wait for the next Shankar biggie.

20 Nov 2018

Movie Review: Thugs of Hindostan: Average Formula-Ridden Adventure Drama

In the year 1795, just like Lagaan and Mangal Pandey: The Rising, India is ruled by the more-evil-than-evil-itself (as they are depicted in period films): The British East India Company. 

Thugs of Hindostan starts with cold-hearted British officer Clive (Lloyd Owen) killing an independent Indian king, the king's son and almost all of the royal family. The king's young daughter (Fatima Sana Shaikh) flees with revenge in her eyes and a cut on her right eyebrow. A horseriding protector (Amitabh Bachchan) has a computer-generated eagle hovering around him. A seductive dancer (Katrina Kaif) adds to the mandatory exposed flesh decoration. Sounds familiar? 

Regular film viewers, think Raaj Tilak, Ajooba, Toofan, Khuda Gawah, Dharam Veer, the entire Pirates of the Carribean movie franchise. Think tried, tested and done to dust, think repetitions of countless uninspiring 70's & 80's Hindi film revenge sagas. 

Story hits iceberg 
The Jack Sparrow-like Firangi Malla (Aamir Khan) infuses much-needed fun, unpredictability and humour to the proceedings. The foxy Malla is the only character that sticks. The undeniably impressive action sequences add some gravity. But a formula-ridden treatment, cliched story sinks the Thugs of Hindostan ship. 

Single theatre pleasures 
In totality, having watched the film on its opening day, in a jam-packed hooting, whistling matinee show, I found the film predictable, but bearable, average entertainment. The performances are decent, the music is OK. 

Manipulated Opinions
In hindsight, the social media and online ridicule of the movie seem engineered and exaggerated to a degree. Thugs of Hindostan is not much good, neither is it hopelessly screwed as mentioned in many of the partisan reviews, social media posts, memes, YouTube videos and WhatsApp messages that have appeared after the movie's release.

My verdict for the much-panned Thugs of Hindostan is bearable, fluffy, one-time adventure drama entertainment. At its formula-ridden best, give it a watch, solely for Aamir Khan's free-flowing, endearing performance.