Captain movie review: Arya’s low-budget monster film bites more than it can chew

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Captor Shakti Soundar Rajan’s previous ventures like Miruthan or Tik Tik Tik, but those are just poor yardsticks to measure film

One can’t help but feel jealous of Shakti Soundar Rajan. I mean who else would get to make an uninspiring film in a new genre year after year? The director seems to revel in the idea of introducing a new genre to Tamil cinema fans. His sophomore project Naaigal Jaakirathai was touted to be the first Tamil film to feature a dog as the protagonist. Later, Miruthan was marketed as the first Tamil Zombie film, then came Tik Tik Tik, the first Tamil space film. Now, Captain, starring Arya, is brandished as the first Tamil creature film (which is debatable). Other than being sold as the ‘first’ of something, Rajan’s films share similar traits like rehashed plots, ineffective emotional beats, cardboard characters and predictable plots. Yet, at some level, these factors seem to be working for his films because nothing else explains the consistency of the director’s career. I would like to call the experience the pleasure of predictability, and Captain provides just that.

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Vetri Selvan (Arya), an Army Captain, heads a team of five. An orphan, Vetri only has his team for a family. The team, which specialises in dealing with terrorist operations, is uncharacteristically tasked to scout an area named Sector 42, which touches the borders of China and Nepal. A previous attempt to scout the area resulted in casualties due to unknown reasons. The premise, with no room for doubts, is similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator (1987). Yet, what begins as an alien-invasion thriller takes a quick turn and becomes an eco-activist film. Maybe, that’s the only thing the viewer doesn’t see coming. But, the apparent twist was more silly and contrived than surprising

There is nothing at stake in Captain. At least had Shakti followed the exact patterns of typical monster/creature films, Captain would have invoked a sense of empathy for the characters. There is not even a cursory scene that establishes the camaraderie of the team. Instead, it is all being told to us. The expositions are on the face. In one instance, Vetri realises that he is immune to the venom of the creature, which is pretty apparent from the visuals. However, Shakti’s regard for audience intelligence is negligible and he finds it necessary to convey the same as a dialogue.

Arya says he suffered ‘mental trauma’ after man impersonated him, duped Sri Lankan woman of Rs 65 lakh 

There’s a huge fanbase for Asian creature films, but Captain doesn’t provide the thrill or invoke the disgust of such B-films. The visual effects were shockingly shoddy to make us fear the creatures. Also, they don’t go for the kill instantly, which removes a sense of immediate threat. Yet, one can see some thought has gone into creating the monsters and their biology. Shakti has ideas, but they don’t come through effectively in this low-budget monster film that bites more than it can chew.

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