2.0: Hollow Spectacle

2point0

 

Shankar’s sci-fi sequel begins in twilight.  A wonderfully constructed suicide; it could very well be a testimony to the director himself.

 

Is the Shankar sun really setting?

 

If it is, then it really wants us all to remember the previous glory.

2.0 is an oddly stitched together film of mostly “Shankar elements”, who knows this movie can give rise to an ‘Ultimate Shankar Movie Checklist’

 

Here goes an initial draft:

Shankar’s main vigilante will want to kill people to make things right because no one listens to him- Check

He might use some ancient text/symbol/martial art to justify/aid his killing- Check

Vigilante will compete himself & previous Shankar films in devising improbable deaths- Check

Using common folk to convey the confusion about what is happening on the ground or “public pulse” shots- Check

A set piece in a stadium- Check

Amy Jackson’s ….never mind – Check

Corrupt businessmen and politicians- Check

 

Ok, yes there is a lot more which we left out including the minister’s secretary wearing safari suit (Check).

Directors tend to repeat themselves, happens all the time man.

We understand that people can run out of ideas and would very much recycle existing works; marketing has a fancy name for this called “re-purposed content”.

The beauty of such content is in making it feel like a whole new experience, in 2.0 the opposite happens and the regular stream of Shankar references also do not help.

The film reaches fantastical levels of unconvincing-ness when Akshay Kumar turns up as prosthetic Pakshirajan or bird-man who somehow has summoned the dead spirits of sparrows to take away cell phones from humans. He believes that humans+cell phones have caused the caused the sparrow deaths and they must be punished. He also believes in wearing a sweater in Thirukazhukundram (70 Km from Chennai).

Dr. Vaseegaran on the other hand believes no man is match for bird-man and summons up Chitti ( The robot from Endhiran). Yep, that’s it; very simple.

Shankar and his team of writers (including Jeyamohan who is writing the Mahabharata in modern form) have gone to the Keep It Simple School of Screenwriting.

If there is a problem, then there is an immediate solution and the protagonist knows what it really and exactly is and hence there is no real tension. Even when a gigantic metallic bird threatens to destroy the city.

Let alone the story, 2.0 refuses to engage in complexities in its science too; everything is reduced to positive and negative. This reductive science approach undertaken to cater to the breadth of the audience ends up hurting the film which after a while feels like a hollow assemblage of well rendered visual effects.

Immediate wow-factor not withstanding 2.0 also overstays its welcome, so eager it is to show us this spectacle that it forgets that the film is pretty much over before the titular 2.0 appears.

2.0 is again Rajnikanth who in the absence of good writing and an effective BGM makes those scenes work with ‘that’ trademark laugh and quips, but by this time it is difficult for humans to really feel connected for the final forty minute action display.

Very early on in the film, an engineering student falls ‘immediately’ in love over the immaculate beauty that is Nila (Amy Jackson) only to fall immediately out of love when he comes to know that Nila is in fact a humanoid robot.

Good to look at, but nothing much beyond that.

Oh wait, that’s the movie too.

 

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Cold Dish, Makes me wish: Theri and other things

theri4

Part One: Avengers of Revenge

“Revenge is a dish best served cold”- quote based on which 10,000 tamil movies have germinated.

Clearly there must be something about this revenge that brings out the blockbuster in theatres, otherwise there is no logic behind so many movies having it as a Palar water undercurrent to many a hero’s river of success. (ok that was unwanted river imagery)

This something can be the dispersal of swift justice to the wronged, which includes innovative ways of killing the villain; maybe does not make for the best of cinema but good engagement.

Speaking of the best of cinema, Kamal’s Aboorva Sagodharargal (The Amazing brothers!) is a late textbook of perfection with respect to revenge as a theme that these filmmakers have undoubtedly read. No one can stop recurring themes, but themes done in a way which is not readily identifiable by the audience,that it is recurring, is what that works.

Theri is as open as a frog during dissection.

So it does take a lot of effort to un-see the other movies that are inside Theri, but you have to hand it to the director for packing in so many other movies into one and since my ticket price was just under Rs.90 (udhayam rocks) I was marginally happy, economically speaking. But my marginal rate of satisfaction for the movie had come down the mountain when the film was reaching its very end.

Aside 1: It is known that Kamal was concentrating solely on the dwarf character that he had not written the script for Aboorva Sagodharargal, and in hasty story discussions one writer is supposed to have suggested “take revenge story saar, always works”.

Good advice and it worked.

theri1

Part Two: Kids as personification of cuteness

This is my main gripe with films employing children, the children themselves are secondary characters to the story/hero etc and more than the children it is their ‘cuteness’ that sells.

Those who are wondering what is this ‘cuteness’is, will benefit from watching the movie. There is something rotten in the selling of ‘cuteness’, and at this point I end my case and we shift to part three.

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Part Three: Soft character, dark flashback

If the hero is playing someone who is soft spoken, kind, compassionate and all the other adjectives that a mother-in-law will put to describe a prospective match; then the hero will surely have been badass cop/ underworld don/ rowdy in exile in his darker than monsoon cloud past, in other simple words, adjectives that no mother-in-law will use.

Amusing that this construct is never questioned or modified.

Another construct is, if there are two heroines then…..<Not spoiling>

But there is a lot working for this Vijay film, especially the DCP Vijay Kumar scenes, the actor does it with some new found zest that really does elevate the movie and my expectation but all these are in the earlier part of the film leaving little for the end.

Part Four or The Condensation of the Adi-Seshan

Adi-Seshan or Seshnag (hindi!) is the king of the snakes. Like all things in the modern world, serpents also need to be brought down to an appreciable length.Hence the title.

 

Joseph Kuruvilla lives in an isolated villa

along with his daughter and her teacher who looks killa*

No one knows who is Joseph Kuruvilla

So they send goons to his isolated villa

In the past, Kuruvilla was DCP Vijay Kumar

Then second half goes on quite sumar**

<The End>

theri5

*killa: modification of killer, used to denote Amy  Jackson

**sumar: ordinary (tamil!)

 

Here’s the trailer:

 

FRS:Thangamagan

A note on the Fawlty Rating System (FRS)

*Initially thought about in 1934, it came to fruition only in the late 2000s.

*It is the only movie rating system in the universe to be based on a Buddhist scroll that was actually written by an Irish traveller who had been an assistant director in the movie “Birth of a nation”, the scroll was curiously titled “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari to make a Baahubali”

*The rating system is now named after than Irish Traveller, a small portions of proceeds from this review will go to a bhel puri vendor in an undisclosed street corner for secret reasons.

*All numbers and words are arbitrary, mostly imaginary. They do not mean anything

A note on the Fawlty Rating System Ends

Movie: Thangamagan

Thangamagan-movie-poster

-321.3 : Movie begins with hero voice over, introducing himself, family, house etc. (thus being the 1001th movie to do so).

+231 Movie referencing another movie plot so as to indicate that this is basically that movie, hence making it easy for audience to sit and eat popcorn

-56: Guys will go to temple to find girls

-102: Heroine’s mother believes going to temple increases culture quotient

-3: Hero will fully shave to look young

+4 Growth of beard indicates responsibility, making me wonder about another famous tagline “with a great moustache, comes great responsibility”

-7 Heroine is architect will build house for herself without hero’s parents

-56 The continuing problem of the loyal hero friend cliché, maybe perfect example of “supporting” role

-20 Understanding wife is absolutely understanding

-12 Understanding mother is absolutely understanding

-12 Understanding father is absolutely understanding, innocent also

-10 Hero’s father is so cool, because he treats him like friend cliché

-156.7 Cousin becomes film villain because hero went to temple without him to see figure/heroine number one

-203 This is entire driving point for the story, no really

-3 Darjeeling

-18.9 Hero comfortably named so as to mouth punch dialogue

+564 Rock behind hero’s house

-2 Overall Drama

-234.6666 Money is not everything, family is. OK.

 

That’s all, nothing more to say.