"RA.One is bad for gaming in India" OR "What have you done, Shahrukh?"
I am writing this just after returning home from a show of the "science-fiction", "super-hero" movie by India's "greatest" actor, Shahrukh Khan. If the quotes bother you, here's why they exist:
"science-fiction": is a composite word made out of two words - science and fiction. While the fiction part is a critical part of any sci-fi, the science is equally so. If we look at what makes good science fiction, we will see that fiction gives you the base premise of the idea (eg: a man bitten by a super spider starts showing spider-like capabilities) and then the science takes over (the psychology of the characters involved, how they grow and act, how their strengths and weaknesses play out, etc). So science-fiction is not random, its extremely logical and completely makes sense. For more details read Isaac Asimov.
"super-hero": is a hero beyond the obvious. A superhero is a person of extreme grit and honor, who stands up for what they believe in. No Arnie in T2 was not a superhero because he was awesome, but because he'd do anything to stand up for little John. Batman is a superhero because of his courage, his commitment and his self sacrifice. The unlimited cash pool only helps along the way.
"greatest": I dont understand how you can be a better actor than someone. You can be a better character, specifically. But 'greatest' actor ever? SRK remember Baazigar, Yes Boss, Raju ban gaya Gentleman? Those were your fine days. Not the lovey dovey crap ever since.
Mark my words, RA.one is a pathetic movie. It has no masala nor makes any sense. The blind support of the sold out media is a plus. But thats not why I despair. I am hurt, because as I exited the theatre, I overheard a father poking fun on his son for games. Ouch, that stings. Is that what you wanted, SRK? You burned INR 175,00,00,000 for that?
Next time Shahrukh take out some money from your VFX budget and invest in story and sound. Seriously, you need to get yourself a superhero theme, not the garbage you are playing right now (remember the sound of heavy breathing every time Shahanshah made an appearance? that was iconic). Also, stealing sequences from international hits does not make a movie hit. You have to execute them right as well. This is where you have failed. And since this is a movie about games, why not play some games as well? Do the homework? Learn what makes good games, good.
The movie was full of Final Fantasy, Robot, Matrix, Superman, Iron Man, Devil May Cry, Spiderman references and there were quite a lot more. That is not a bad thing nor is it really good. I am divided over it, for now.
And about the VFX: you surprised me. I expected them to be crappier but the team has done a decent job. Kudos! No I mean it. Seriously. Though I cant help but leave a word. Good VFX is of two categories: One that deliberately reminds you that it is a VFX (maybe to remind you that the producers spent helluva money to put it there), the other is so subtle and integrated that you feel the thunder but never notice it. That was the difference in Matrix 3's punching-in-the-rain sequence versus your punching-in-the-random-droplets-of-water sequence, and everywhere else.
Why do I hate you? I am a game developer and love the art of making games. It is my passion, my ambition and my pursuit to make games people will enjoy playing and level up my art. While, I initially thought that Ra.One will help make video games mainstream amongst Indian parents, you just ended up mocking it.
Game development is a hard job, quite like making movies. You may think that making movies is a joke but making games is not. So back off. You may think that the Indian audience has the intellectual limitation of only understanding crotch-grabbing and male-centric abuses and illogical technologies and unexplained behaviors. But thats not true. Someday it will be proved, just wait and watch. You created a whole new technology to support the premise of your ingame characters coming out in real world but never really used it.
- Why the heck was your villian called "Random Access Version One" ? Were you like prototyping new RAM (Random Access Memory)?
- What is this whole stuff about a super-villian, when all you have to do is grab his "Main Part" to pass the time, get into level 3 and shoot him and he dies, with just one bullet?
- When neither the hero nor the villian cant die unless they are shot with the bullet in level 3, why will any player loose by the "super villian" in between. How do the only-best players reach the third level (I remember a dialogue about no one making it to level 2, before the kid got there).
- What was the whole idea behind the level design? Level 1 and 2 played out in real world, but level 3 suddenly pops up with some weird gladiatorial amphitheatre?
Do I have to compromise with such a half hearted attempt at something so obtuse that it insults my intelligence, simply because I live in the world of Bollywood?
Now that the rant is done. Here's why RA.one is not that bad for gaming as well (only to be fair to the efforts): Brand SRK giving a thumbs up to brand Game Industry will help make it more mainstream. It is upto developers like me, to take that and satiate the general curiosity with what games really are.
But next time you want to make a movie about games, I'll lodge a PIL and get a cease-and-desist issued. 'Nuff said.
Update: For reasons why the movie sucks read The Vigil Idiots awesome analysis of the movie.