Thursday, 15 September 2016

Ra.One

Ra.One; science-fiction / action / drama / comedy, India, 2011; D: Anubhav Sinha, S: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Arman Verma, Tom Wu

London. In an Indian expatriate family, the 12-year old Prateek is embarrassed by his clumsy and spineless father, Shekhar, who works as a video game designer. In order to impress him, Shekhar decides to create a different, "bad ass" 3D game where the villain, Ra.One, is stronger than the good guy, G.One. However, due to a malfunction, Ra.One comes to the real world and kills Shekhar. His wife, Sonia, and Prateek, are shocked and flee to India, but G.One also comes to life to protect them, taking on Shekhar's appearance, but not his memories. Since Ra.One hunts for them, G.One and Prateek create a game match and manage to defeat Ra.One. However, G.One also disintegrates. Six months later, back in London, Prateek manages to return and assemble G.One back to the real world.

One of the most expensive Indian films at the time of its release, aimed at the Western audience not only through its filming locations but also through its style and superhero storyline, "Ra.One" received contradictory reactions, yet it is a more than solid blockbuster fun thanks to its charm and self-ironic humor at times, as well as the fact that these kind of cliche, special effects loaded films still seem somehow fresh when coming from non-English speaking cinema. Better during its comedy than during its action moments, "Ra.One" is a crazy patchwork, yet has some sort of energy and enthusiasm that carries the film, whereas Shah Ruh Khan is again in great shape, first as the video game designer Shekhar who is at times as clumsy as Inspector Clouseau (at the entrance of a skyscraper, he throws his keys towards a friend, yet just then a blond woman passes by and "intercepts" the keys in her cleavage) and then later on as the 3D video game character G.One who takes the human appearance of the deceased Shekhar, much to the confusion of his widow Sonia, thereby giving the film themes reminiscent of "Terminator 2" and "Starman", The action sequences are rather tiresome and stale (one notable exception is when Ra.One and G.One are throwing cars at each other on the parking lot) - on one hand it is remarkable that Indian cinema managed to reach the technical level of modern Sci-Fi superhero movies, yet on the other hand it is a pity it also just copied some of its stereotypes, instead of offering something unique - whereas it also suffers from Bollywood's typical syndrome of overlong running time of nearly three hours, yet the movie flows smoothly, is catchy, accessible and even delivers a few touching moments (the song where Shekhar sings to Sonia: "Oh, my darling, compared to you, the world is insignificant"; one of G.One's final words: "Even good people die... But their good deeds live forever."), and is thus an overall good edition to the superhero genre.

Grade;++

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