Category Archives: special effects
RA-One ~ This film has a lot in common with the recently reviewed Enthiran – The Robot. And while it follows Enthiran, and exists within the same continuity, it is not a sequel. Much the way the solo Avengers films led into the main Avengers movie, Chitti the Robot makes a cameo here. Being a comic book fan, I’m a sucker for universe building, and that’s exactly what Tamil science fiction is doing – creating a cinematic superhero universe.
The story here is nothing new really, derivative, but still original enough, and made magical by CGI and various other animation techniques. A videogame designer creates the ultimate super-villain, RA-One, for a virtual reality videogame where the player becomes the hero G-One to fight him. Like Enthiran, there are dazzling and mindboggling special effects, but at its core is a touching father and son story, that of the designer and his son.
Things go awry when RA-One gains sentience, and the designer must become G-One to stop him from destroying the real world. The battle sequences between G-One and RA-One are phenomenal. It is just amazing to me how other cultures seem to know better how to use American superhero concepts cinematically than most American filmmakers.
Like most Bollywood films, this has everything – action, comedy, romance, a couple if very scary moments, and of course terrific musical sequences. I really liked this film a lot, great videogame and comic book sensibilities, and like Enthiran, I bought the soundtrack as soon as I was done watching it the first time. Great fun.
Enthiran – The Robot ~ This is a film whose reputation precedes it. Called the Avatar of its country, reputedly this is the most expensive film made to date in India, and also its highest grossing film. Not strictly a Bollywood film, but more accurately a ‘Kollywood’ film as it was made in Tamil Nadu, it is s work of science fiction, but as with all Indian films, it is truly a creature of mixed genre.
Also known as Robot, and Robo, and Enthiran, and a dozen other titles and spelling variations worldwide, this is roughly a Frankenstein story – a scientist makes a man in his own image, scarily Elvis-like, which tries to be human but eventually is looked upon as monster. The Robot, Chitti, is played by award winning veteran Indian actor Rajinikanth, who also plays his creator. His deadpan performance as the Robot is both fearsome and hilarious.
Written and directed by Shankar Shanmugam, or simply Shankar, the film has changed the way the world views Indian science fiction. And as the film is called the Avatar of India, similarly Shankar is called its James Cameron. No doubt he is one of their greatest visionaries.
The music is by A.R. Rahman, who also did the music for Slumdog Millionaire, Couples Retreat, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, and dozens of Indian movies, among others – but this soundtrack was a worldwide instant blockbuster. That’s the popularity power of this flick.
The real star here is the special effects. CGI and animatronics from a company called Legacy Effects, the brain child of special effects wizard Stan Winston. From the robotics that make up our hero to the evil robot rampage to the outrageous cartoonish but reality based feats later in the film, as the evil robot fights everyone, and of course, the climax, the effects are king. More cars and guns than you have perhaps ever seen on the screen. Mind boggling. Matrix and Terminator, step aside.
This movie has everything. Adventure, romance, comedy, musical sequences, violence – both cartoonish and realistic (lots of gunplay and a very scary and racially offensive attempted rape scene, so it’s not for the kids), it’s all here. In many ways it’s a superhero movie sans costumes. This three hour long Tamil science fiction masterpiece, like Avatar, must be experienced at least once. Recommended.
The Wolfman ~ This 2010 remake of the Universal classic has so much going for it – a script by Andrew Kevin Walker, a novelization by Jonathan Maberry, and a phenomenal score by Danny Elfman that features an almost Jaws-like opening. I was surprised and liked it however, it didn’t knock my socks off.
Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins are at best adequate in subtly over the top roles that require their level of talent to pull off and yet neither steps up to the plate. Rick Baker’s make-up effects are stunning, and they should be – the original flick is what made him want to do make-up in the first place. He’s come full circle.
Speaking of the original, this is a fairly tight remake. The Walker script has lots of nods and winks here. I especially like the reference to the actual French werewolf murders at Gevaudan, and the brief glimpse of topiary animals a la Stephen King’s book “The Shining.” And the asylum scenes are very brutal.
This remake is very moody, very atmospheric, and unfortunately very dark. A light here or there wouldn’t hurt, folks. You have the care going with everything else, you don’t need the dark to help you – especially when it hinders the visuals. And as far as visuals go, the climax is quite impressive. Check it out.