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The highly anticipated 2.0 directed by Shankar has been out of the theatres for some time and has already proven to be a beast in the box office. Already the sixth highest grossing Indian film of all time, 2.0 is the kind of film that’s made for cinema screens with its magnificent visuals and action scenes. Although its lead are two huge Bollywood stars — Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar — the real star in this film is the visual effects (VFX).
A sequel to the 2010 Aishwarya Rai and Rajinikanth starrer Enthiran (released as Robot in Pakistan and other markets), this bombastic work of art is one of the most superbly produced Bollywood films to come around in some time. With a budget of $75 million, you wouldn’t be wrong to expect big things on par with Hollywood films and 2.0 really delivers on that front. The film is the most expensive Bollywood film of all time to date and lucky for fans who wish to see the movie, it really puts its money to good use.
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Although the film is weak in the story department, this isn’t a Thugs in Hindostan situation where the action and spectacles refused to make up for the subpar story. Instead, the strong CGI allows us to get over the predictable and inordinate nature of the movie. Mind you, don’t go in expecting to see Avatar or Planet of the Apes, this is strictly a visually appealing Tamil movie. And like a lot of such movies, it is the kind that would fall apart if it didn’t have any garish scenes to show for it.
The premise of the film is pretty simple (if a tad bit dumb) Dr. Vaseegaran (Rajinikanth) is asked to assist when mobiles start flying out of the hands of the people in Chennai. Vaseegaran employs his trusty robot Chitti to fight the ghost of an ornithologist (Akshay Kumar) who returns as a bird-shaped supernatural being.
Rajinikanth gets a chance to flex his acting muscles as he plays multiple roles and shines in all of them. Akshay Kumar is similarly brilliant as the technology-hating antagonist of the movie, looking the most outlandish we’ve ever seen him. Also joining Vaseegaran in the action is the humanoid assistant Nila (played by Amy Jackson of Supergirl fame) who puts up a good performance despite not having much to do.
At its heart 2.0 is a pretty silly film and if you’ve been watching Bollywood films for a while now you wouldn’t find it all that surprising; given it’s a Rajinikanth film, the story isn’t quite as bonkers as it could be, even if the reasoning often provided in the film makes little to no sense. The screenplay and storyline are in fact rather lousy and the film has no qualms about using its ‘nature vs. technology debate’ to show slick visuals than actually debate something important.
While the film gives its villain a flashback sequence so the audience can better understand how he came to be who he is today, his story is so banal that it consequently does not make us feel intrigued. Unlike the prequel, the film fails to inject any humor and inventiveness to itself. 2.0 is also a bit too long, and certain subplots (such as one involving the son of the previous villain of the film) really don’t amount to anything.
Luckily the film is saved by the one-liners that Bollywood film fans eat up and that coupled with some truly grand sequences, make 2.0 a feast for the eyes. The film is also smart enough to not include lots of song and dance numbers instead lean on the ever-reliable A.R Rehman, for a score that goes with the visuals of the movie.
While 2.0 isn’t the best or most entertaining film of the year, it is the most promising Indian film. Visually astounding, 2.0 raises the bar for the Indian cinema but its tame storyline and simplistic characters fail to make it a benchmark for future South Asian films.