Having been hyped as India’s costliest film ever, the Rs.600 crore production would have given Hollywood sci-fi movies the blushes. However, Shankar’s ‘2.0’ fails to excite or even showcase anything novel that its prequel “Enthiran” (Robot) had done so well eight years ago.
Rajinikanth, once known for his speed and style, emerges a pale shadow even though he has to carry the entire movie in four avatars, namely, Dr. Vaseegaran - the robotics scientist, Chitti - the reassembled good and the tweaked bad with better computing and combating skills and miniature versions of him as Robot 3.0. Unfortunately, for the superstar, his age and ailments (during the shoot) appear to have slowed him down as the zing he had displayed in “Enthiran” is missing.
But Rajini being Rajini still manages to get the whistles when the much beloved bad Chitti mouths funny one-liners while taking on ornithologist-turned-techno birdman Akshay Kumar. Askhay’s presence might help in bringing the Hindi audience, but may not be a glowing addition to his filmography. It is his SFX version, made up of thousands of mobile phones, that occupies the screen space and not that of Pakshiraja (literally king of birds), the aged ornithologist who morphs into a human-bird combination.
Since the female interest Amy Jackson is introduced as a humanoid designed to assist Vaseegaran, the film is robbed of its romantic angle in marked contrast to the gorgeous presence of Aishwarya Rai in the prequel; it also lacks Shankar’s trademark duets filmed in exotic locales that made ‘Enthiran’ so colourful. A.R. Rahman’s listless form of 2018 continues even in 2.0.
The storyline has a social intent that trademark's many of Shankar’s films - how the over use of mobile telephones had proved harmful to birds which in the long run could threaten the human race and forms the crux of the movie. Shankar embellishes the story-telling with breathtaking visuals of flying mobiles phones that congregate to become killing machines and the giant bird. He, however, resorts to pseudo science about bad and good aura to flesh out the transformation of the bird lover into a deadly raptor.
Even the SFX appears to be an extension of the prequel as Chitti 2.0 uses the same magnetic field and multiple gun-toting that we have seen earlier. The only novelty comes in the form of Chitti as minibots used to destroy the villain’s shield and neutralise him. In the climax, the clash in the football stadium between Chitti 2.0 and Pakshiraja, the mobile machine resembles Transformers.
By choosing to film in real 3D rather than convert 2D into 3D, Shankar has pumped in enough elements to keep the film visually enthralling, but the absence of a surprise element in the narrative pulls down the overall impact of the movie. In hindsight, “Enthiran” was more of a fun ride than ‘2.0’, proving that this has not been a great year for sequels in Tamil cinema.