2.0director – shankarcast – rajinikanth, akshay kumar, amy jacksonscore – 3.5/ 5
chennai is under attack. every cell phone in the city, from the ones used by fisherwomen to the one used to take a selfie at the funeral, have flown from users’ hands and vanished into the sky, leaving everyone confused. I found a particularly interesting floating theory: what if it’s a rival cell phone company trying to establish itself? Considering the way a certain service provider has busted the ball joints of the competition with wildly predatory prices, I was wondering if the villain in this movie was a stand-in for one of India’s megabodies – could 2.0 give us rajini vs ambani? ?
no dice. director shankar has an unrestrained visual imagination and unconventional thinking, but despite the well-intentioned ideas at the heart of his stories, his cinema flirts with relevance rather than commits to it. The 2010 film Enthiran, aka Robot, was essentially a Frankenstein movie set in an AI world, but what Shankar had really figured out was a path forward for its mythically hulking protagonist: Rajinikanth played the bearded, affable scientist. vasigaran , while all the punches and finishing moves were reserved for chitti the robot, his clean-shaven and highly superhuman alter ego.
watch trailer 2.0 here
In this sequel 2.0, the battle is potentially fascinating: this movie pits rajinikanth against the phones that give the actor all his power, through memes, ringtones and hashtags. Tragically, the villain we get is a bird brain: an ornithologist who, angry at the injustice we do to birds with the radiation from our cell phone towers, uses thousands of disembodied cell phones to create an…angry bird. .
“nice dp,” chitti says as she comes face to face with the villain, unsubtly named pakshiraja and played by akshay kumar. is the right kind of answer, because kumar, despite his seemingly insurmountable (and undefined) powers, never seems like a real threat once the rajinikanths arrive on the scene. as if dr. vasigaran and chitti weren’t enough, the scientist now has a fembot sidekick, nila (meaning nice, smart and charming assistant) and kumar, despite growing in size, can’t keep up.
Nothing, of course, measures up to the visuals. Shankar is all about the spectacle and India’s first film shot entirely in 3D doesn’t disappoint. There is too much eagerness to give everything in the foreground the 3D treatment — far too many objects are thrown at us — but that enthusiasm is natural, like the first time someone discovers portrait mode on the iPhone. Enthiran provided memorable visuals of interlocked Rajinikanths, however, and it isn’t easy to top that. This film does a lot, visually, and the idea of multiple phones wriggling in unison is suitably creepy. The render isn’t perfect and the opacity occasionally goes in and out, but the visual works impressively, and the 3D packs a punch.
2.0 is a linear, basic film, with an easy-to-identify and easy-to-extinguish problem, but coasts nicely on Rajini’s charm. The superstar is in vintage screen-dominating form, both as the efficient Vasigaran as well as Chitti, who later becomes a red-streaked version of himself, an obnoxious Oompa Loompa. Considering that Kumar too was a gentle, white-bearded conspiracy theorist who eventually turns into a squawking vulture-type, this may be the film’s way of telling us to beware of upgrades. (Or, dare I say, sequels?)
Rajini is ably supported by Nila, who has been raised on a diet of TV, movies, food, and gossip to become more human. As a result, she is a passively aggressive robot enthusiast who plays puns while waiting for robot love. ‘hot siri’ is a quirky part, and jackson takes it well.
shankar constantly simplifies it: when the mysterious villain is first hit by a “neutralization beam”, an on-screen meter tells us how much longer he needs to be attacked. this is a ‘family movie’ in the most obvious way. however, the director also regularly gives us witty asides, both visual and verbal: there’s a super visual of a window cleaner spooked by the giant bird monster, and the queue to buy cell phones is described as a pilgrimage. There are also, of course, plenty of one-liners to emphasize how in love we are with our phones.
This balance deserts the film in its final stretch, where the climax goes on and on and, at one point you will never be able to un-see, Rajini enters Kumar. Shankar’s perpetual game of Lego means too many things keep melding together into bigger, more unweildy things. Chitti even turns magnetic and is promptly covered in cars and utensils like a Subodh Gupta installation. Also, the hero frightens the villain by holding pigeons ransom, threatening to snap their necks. Go figure.
Actually, don’t. despite the tedious climax, 2.0 is a blast. could have been a smarter movie but its a mostly fun rajinikanth ride solid 3d sound and great atmosphere the mastering is so good that at one point when kumar is ringing a lot of phones i hissed at the person next to me. in the theater. Shankar sticks admirably to the plot and never slows down, with no time for melodrama or song sequences, which made up the cheesiest parts of Enthiran. Kumar has some fun snarling and squawking, Jackson is more than worthy to keep kicking ass as he continues the franchise, but a Rajini movie can only be about one man.
Now, if only I could keep our calls from being dropped.
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