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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

Film review: 2.0 shouldn't be missed for its sheer scale and audacity 

Indian cinema's take on Angry Birds has a nice message but a poor script to stand on

Amy Jackson and Rajinikanth in 2.0.
Amy Jackson and Rajinikanth in 2.0.

S Shankar's 2.0 is India's outlandish answer to Hollywood's science fiction movies at their best.

The sci-fi quotient is high and the grand spectacle can be enjoyed even in 2D. However, it is worth noting this is the first Indian film to be natively shot in 3D and its film industry is still far away from matching overall global standards.

Nonetheless, there is a great social message and good music to boot in the sequel to Enthiran (in Tamil) or Robot (in Hindi) if you can run with Shankar's poor script.

Speaking to The National, Walt Jones joined many fellow VFX artists, who were sourced in for the visual effects, in conceding that the director was very much locked in with the screenplay. Being wedded to a fixed story can be a double-edged sword, but this eventually ends up draining the battery by the second half of the movie.

A mixture of original concepts from biology blended with borrowings from Black Panther, Transformers and I Spy could have raised the level of this film even if a few special effects would have been sacrificed for a better script. Instead, only the spectacle leaves you wondering if it was just a new, reel version of Angry Birds.

Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth in 2.0.
Akshay Kumar and Rajinikanth in 2.0.

The film is action from the word go as a half-man half-bird mutant played by Akshay Kumar takes siege on Chennai by making mobile phones disappear. His character Pakshi Rajan is an amoeba-like giant bird made up of the phones that he is blaming for the death of birds vital to the ecosystem.

Kumar plays the shades of grey well as the Ornithologist professor with an aura of negativity after his campaign to save birds falls on deaf ears.

Rajinikanth reprises his two roles from the first film as scientist Vaseegaran and Chitti the robot.

The sequel is dated 20 years after the first film where Vaseegaran was then dating medical student Aishwarya Bachchan. He is on an extended date in 2.0.

Amy Jackson and Rajinikanth in 2.0.
Amy Jackson and Rajinikanth in 2.0.

The female lead goes to Amy Jackson (Nila), while Sudhanshu Pandey comes in as the son of Dr Bora, Enthiran's villain when it was not the alter ego of Chitti due to malware. As if the poor casting was not enough, Jackson, playing a female robot has a crush on Chitti. She can somehow find the spot in an enclosed basement laboratory vault where the wind can blow through her hair - just in case the glint in her eyes did not reflect her love to the audience.

At the start of the movie, scenes reflecting the way we are being held captive by our smartphones could have been used more effectively as small pings to the conscience. Instead, they end up as slapstick one-liner jokes that Shankar uses them for intended puns. Dr Vaseegaran says "Dot" so many times annoyingly - with no point or sense.

That said, Shankar's imagination is spot on and stands out nicely just like the LED screens of the millions of phones used to depict the bird.

The effects are top notch. The US$76 million budget - the biggest in Indian cinema - seem justified and the visuals don’t feel as derivative as they did in the trailer. Some shots really are beyond imagination.

However, Shankar tries to play to the gallery with scenes to suit superstar Rajinikanth's swag and aura and it hurts the climax. But 2.0 is a very clever spectacle not to be missed for its sheer audacity and scale. Dot... err, Period.

Updated: November 30, 2018 03:37 PM

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