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  Ra.One A Step Up From Asteroids
Year: 2011
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Armaan Verma, Arjun Rampal, Tom Wu, Shahana Goswami, Priyanka Chopra, Satish Shah, Dalip Tahil, Suresh Menon, Sanjay Dutt, Rajnikanth, Joe Egan, Ben Hawkey, Paul Lowe, Walles Hamonde, Kiyana Aziz, Mike Parish, Baz Salam
Genre: Musical, Comedy, Action, Science Fiction, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Shekhar Subramaniam (Shah Rukh Khan) is a computer programmer employed in games while living in London with his family, wife Sonia (Kareena Kapoor) and son Prateek (Armaan Verma), but he is hassled at work and doesn't feel he gets much respect at home, either. Take his son, who believes his father is nothing but lame and the games he designs are not much better: if he had his way, he would play one where you got to assume the identity of a villain, since they are always the most interesting characters. Shekhar is having none of that until his boss demands his team, who are making great advances in 3D technology, shake themselves up as they really need a hit. Maybe Prateek is on to something...

Despite one of Bollywood's biggest stars, King Khan himself, ensuring financial success, Ra.One did not go on to enjoy much of a reputation at home. Or rather it did, but that reputation was that it was terminally stupid, and an ill-advised attempt at taking on Hollywood at its own game in the superheroes market; this wasn't the only one to do so, as Hrithik Roshan was making his Krrish movies and Rajnikanth had given it a go in internet sensation Enthiran, a role he reprised here for one scene where he, er, demonstrated a fancy way of putting on sunglasses. Well, his fans would have been happy to see him, happier than they were to see Khan apparently making a fool of himself in what amounted to a dual role.

Want to see the King of Bollywood with blue eyes? Then here was the film for you, but it could be this was a case of all those who harboured a grudge against Khan guiding the public perception of Ra.One, for it was actually quite entertaining. The masses of cash lavished on it aside, it was not going to compete with the Hollywood sci-fi internationally, which was another reason the critics both amateur and professional took against it, but for what it was, with all those crunching gear changes its home nation's cinema employed, objectively it was by no means the worst superhero movie around, hell, Marvel had done worse with some of their properties. That double role saw Khan at first playing the goof in the first half before becoming the more traditional superhero in the second.

So it was nice to see him flexing his comedy muscles instead of his heavy melodrama efforts - he did not shed one tear in the whole two-and-a-half hour running time - and in truth with the avalanche of special effects backing him up he cut quite the dash as the computer game character come to life. As with many of these twenty-first century Indian tries at the fantasy genres, there was a debt owed to certain other blockbusters from across the Atlantic (or maybe across the Pacific is closer), so you could detect various influences such as Terminator 2: Judgment Day or the Tron series, yet in the plot that regarded computers as basically magic, there was a pleasing hark back to the nineteen-eighties with that faith and fear intermingled in the consideration of technology.

Also, what better than the landscape of gaming to present a story of good and evil so black and white in its contrasts? Not that the game in the film looks easy to play, as it was more your nineties virtual reality than what the pasttime had actually worked its way up to: which would you rather do, relax on the sofa to play or act out the fighting moves yourself, necessitating the skills of a genuine martial arts expert as you would have to be here? We had to accept little Prateek was all that and more. Once the villain he always wanted, based on a Hindu demon and called, you guessed it, Ra.One, is unleashed from the screen he determines to seek out the fighter who almost bested him, and he is Prateek, unfortunately for the boy's family. Very unfortunately, as it turns out, but if you could take the chaotic mix of laughs, tears and action then you may find yourself warming to the chances this took in the more accustomed Bollywood style. It remained a daft experience, but its heart was in the right place, and Khan included an anti-smoking message to boot. Music by Vishal Dadlani and Shekhar Ravjiani.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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