Cataline Recommends: Enthiran 2.0

I’ve heard Enthiran referred to as the “Indian Terminator…”

…by people who have either never seen Enthiran or never seen The Terminator. There is no point in going over all the ways this is wrong. Aside from there being a robot in lead, that’s pretty much it.  Honestly, that movie is closer to Tobor the Great than the Terminator.   

Admittedly, it’s Tobor with a ton of dance numbers. 

Regardless, this review sadly will not be about that movie because currently there is nowhere that it’s available in the US at the moment.  It drops in and out of release on Netflix and can only be bought on a secondary market DVD.  There is no guarantee that will be subtitled (or rather subtitled in English but if your Malayan is up to the job, you’re covered). 

However, it’s direct sequel Enthiran 2.0 is currently available on Amazon Prime.  Given that it is every bit as Tamil insane as the first one, I believe it can be substituted pretty seamlessly.  

First a word about the star or rather the superstar.  How is it that this guy… 

… is still the biggest action star in India?  

I mean Sly and Arnold are still grunting and groaning on screen but everyone pretty much agrees they are completely past it. And they have the boxoffice numbers to prove it.  But Enthiran 2.0 has the sixth highest boxoffice take for any Indian film worldwide.  And there are 1.34 billion Indians.  This man has a LOT of still active fans. The question is how does he still have them?  And the answer is, fucked if I know. 

Now, I do get how he was a big deal at one time. Back when Burt Reynolds was huge, so was he. 

At least he had hair

And you certainly couldn’t fault him as a worker.  He has got two hundred eight credits as an actor on IMDB and who knows how many they missed. 

Maybe it’s the preservationist instincts in a country that is over six thousand years old but whatever he’s got, he apparently has still got it at the age of sixty-nine. 

Movie begins: Silhouette of a man as he climbs a cellphone tower and then hangs himself from it.  Which felt like a call back to the first Patlabor movie.  Which it effectively was.  Mad Scientist’s plan for revenge against the world is initiated by his own suicide.  

Next, we catch up with Doctor Scientist from the first movie. Introducing a class of college students to his new hot girl robot.  One of the guys had actually gotten her phone number but was now worried about what his friends would think if he fucked a robot.  Understandable. Let’s face it those guys are already with us today and they aren’t at the top of the socio sexual hierarchy.   

Incidentally. I’m not bothering with spoiler alerts because it is impossible to ruin this film for you by telling you the plot.  If you are watching it, it’s not for the intricately crafted story, it’s for the sheer joy of Tamil insanity. 

We get a brief update, the robot “Chitti” was disassembled for killing a bunch of people in the last movie. Doctor Scientist (no I am not bothering with his polysyllabic Indian name thank you very much), is still seeing his girlfriend from the first movie but apparently, they couldn’t book Aishwarya Rai this time so she is just a disembodied voice on the phone complaining at him.   We are now up to date. 

Plot now properly begins and does so with a horror beyond all imagining.   The terror builds slowly, as horror should. Just one person.  One man having an average day.  His girlfriend is bitching at him because he tried to cheat on her with a robot (or maybe that’s an average day in Japan, anyway) suddenly his SAMSUNG smartphone is jerked out of his hand.   It just hovers there off the ground, with the name SAMSUNG in perfect focus. * Then his cell phone flies away into the sky.  A human being has just been deprived of his smartphone.  He is the first but he won’t be last. He sits there in the road in complete devastation. 

Actually, I liked that sequence.  The tension did take it’s time and build slowly.  Just a couple of individuals at first. Then a very well to do family’s phones all fly out of the window.  A poor man living in the street loses his next.  Then a crowd of college girls taking selfies, followed by a single a farmer out in the country minding his cattle. Culminating in a Friday night rush hour commute that turns into a massive pileup when all the smart phones inside them take to the sky.  

Show don’t tell, is the first rule of fiction.  And this is especially so in film.  There was no need to hammer home with statistics just how universal the smart phone has become in the last ten years.  Not after the director showed it. From highest to lowest every single person in India now has a smartphone. A major crutch of modern society had just been kicked away.   

If I was a modern teenager, I would have been left sobbing on the floor, trembling in terror at the very thought.  

But I’m Gen Xer so I just laughed while the burned. 

Then the cell phone murders start.  Gigantic masses of phones slithering into different shapes.  Sometimes they take the form of road and then they turn into a crashing wave and all the while they constantly rumble, it’s just a standard silent vibrate but a million smartphones doing that all once sounds the deep throat growl of some Triassic-Cyborg Monster.  It was effective.  And this collectivized monster is horribly murdering one man at a time…at first.  

Also, it was a clever use of their CGI budget. Cell phones are by their very nature, blocky. And blocky is easy and CHEAP to work with when you are doing CGI.  It looks better than it has any right to given what their budget was. 

Back to the show.  So, the Triassic-Cellphone Cyborg Monster starts murdering individuals who are pretty high up in the local cell phone industry. 

Government meeting is held. Doctor Scientist takes this opportunity to propose reactivating Chitti to be a robot superhero. He is successfully opposed in this by the son of the villain from the last movie, a guy whose head Chitti popped like an over ripe mosquito full of blood, (so yeah, issues there). 

The army is called in to guard the construction of new cell phone towers.  Cellphone Cyborg Monster reacts to this by turning itself into Cellphone-Rodan and attacks the army. 

Lots practical effects and explosions here, and good old-fashioned blood squibs being set off as the army accidently and for a very long time starts shooting each other.  

Skipping ahead. There is huge line at the cellphone store when the enraged Cellphone Rodan attacks the crowed but never fear, Chitti has been reactivated.  And now the indescribable madness of a Tamil action scene begins.  

No, that comes later

Chitti smashes through buildings, rollerblades down the side of buildings on built in skates. Steals a tank counter attacks Cellphone Rodan then leads it away from the city. All the while looking as cool as a seventy-year-old man pretending he is fifty can look.  

Honestly, the clunkiest scenes in this whole movie are the ones where Rajinkanth has to run. They can try to disguise his age everywhere else but it’s obvious when he runs.

Chitti, Doctor Scientist and Hot Indian Girl American Robot (HIGAR) sit down and confer.  Earlier I had compared this movie with Patlabor the Movie 1, that comparison fails once they start talking about science. The writer definitely believes in Clarke’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. There was clearly no difference between magic and science for this guy. 

Anyway, Doctor Scientist wants to know about any cellphone related deaths on or about the date of the first attack and instantly spots the significant one…because genius.  HIGAR btw has Daddy issues because she is clearly crushing hard on Chitti. 

Chitti and company track down the headquarters of Cellphone-Rodan by the simple expedient of turning on an old NOKIA and tracking it when flies away.  There then begins a L-O-N-G biographical montage that literally traces the entire life of Mad Bird Scientist (yes, the one that hanged himself at the start of the movie) from birth to death.  Summation: he loved the fuck out of birds and cellphone towers are killing them because of bad science magic. Motivation established. 

Environmentalist always make the best villains
“Yes, we have to kill all the people. Why can’t you people understand that?”

A medium lunatic action sequence is conducted and at the end of it, soul of Mad Bird Scientist has been exorcised from Cellphone-Rodan by the power of good science magic. 

A grateful India allows Chitti to continue to exist. This enrages the son of the villain from the last movie, a guy whose head Chitti popped like an over ripe mosquito and he releases the soul of Evil Bird Scientist because R-E-V-E-N-G-E. 

Soul of Evil Bird Scientist possess the body of Doctor Scientist and it was actually a creepy little scene.  It then dismembers Chitti who is put back together by HIGAR with a firmware upgrade to 2.0 that turns him into an Indian mega douche.   

I’m too sexy for my…
… sorry I can’t do this.

 

Chitti 2.0 then builds a vast army of himself and the final battle soon begins in a soccer stadium and Tamil Madness gives in to the rising choirs of its insanity in a joyful scene after scene of screen carnage featuring but by no means limited to, a gigantic magnetic machine gun ball, a kaiju battle between Cellphone-Rodan and Mega-Magnetic Chitti and pigeon riding cavalry of… you know what I actually can ruin that scene for you. 

If you decide to watch this don’t do it alone and make sure you have plenty of beer on hand.  A great Friday night with the guys film.   

Cataline Recommends with Confidence. 

*Yeah, Indian movies are actually worse than Sony Pictures when it comes to product placement. Shocking but true. 

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