wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?)
Kochadaiiyaan, hailed as 'India's first photo-realistic performance capture film', is a sore disappointment primarily because of the poor quality of animation and VFX. A potentially interesting story and the presence of Superstar Rajnikanth all but go to waste in this brave but failed effort.Read more
If you watch Kochadaiiyaan, before and after the actual film, you'll see snippets of how this film was made - how the cast had to wear special suits meant for performance capture, how they had nothing to react to in terms of their environment and surroundings. It reminds you just how tough filmmaking is. It also inspires awe for actors like Superstar Rajnikanth, who are willing to embrace new technology and go the distance in order to narrate a story that they believe in. Unfortunately, these 'making-of' segments are also the only things truly worth watching in Kochadaiiyaan.
The culprit, not surprisingly, is the quality of the animation and visual effects. Stilted human figures, lifeless textures on the environment, unrealistic camera movements, and so many more; Kochadaiiyaan is a thorough visual disappointment. Of course, those comparing this film with the likes of a big Hollywood summer blockbuster must know that the entire budget of Kochadaiiyaan would be a fraction of how much it would cost just to get Hugh Jackman for X-Men: Days of Future Past. Still, that doesn't ease the disappointment.
A pity, really, because the story, though not truly out of the ordinary, had enough meat in it to make for a fun watch. Two warring kingdoms battling the ghosts of the past and the threats of the future, as one hero straddles the burdens of history, loss, deception and love. It had all the makings of a bit of a minor epic, to be honest.
Unfortunately, apart from the visual let-down, the film also suffers from mediocre music by A. R. Rahman, and a rather placid screenplay. The twists never really grab at you, and you always wait for at least a glimpse of Thalaivar - the real one - he who makes you believe in the impossible; but it never happens.
He has a flourish or two here and there, and he also gets to rattle a few dialogues (including some self-referencing I suspect, if you watch the film in Tamil) but you always miss him. Fact is, there's just one of him in flesh and blood, and no amount of technology can change that. Of course, there are so many shots in the film which just couldn't have been executed in live-action - Rajnikanth's entry, for instance. Alas!
Soundarya Rajnikanth Ashwin must surely be lauded for the brave attempt, but Kochadaiiyaan deserved to either be as good as the best performance-capture animated film ever, or it deserved to have not been made at all. This technically shoddy film that has come out of the attempt does justice to neither Thalaivar nor his fans. And what they've made of gorgeous Deepika Padukone's face added travesty. That is the sad truth of it.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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