• Baahubali: The Beginning (2015) and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (2017)

    From Arelor@VERT/PALANT to All on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 19:57:36
    Hello, movigoers!

    I was about to review a film I just watched, which had the peculiarity of being a very
    good film but leaving a sour taste in my mouth. So sour, that despite the fact I
    recognized it was a good film, I wanted to trash it very hard.

    Since I don't want to be unfair today, I am choosing to review something else.

    Enter the Baahubali saga.

    Baahubali is a two part epic film which hails from India. Emphasis on Epic. The two
    movies in the duology are so Metal, they say Luca Turilli felt on a deep depression
    after watching it, because he realized none of his Metal albums would ever be half as
    Metal as Baahubali. Baahubali is more Metal than Manowar's viking riding a Harvey,
    using an electric guitar to strike demons down left and right while singing Painkiller.

    The first movie opens with a lady running away from two bad guys, while carrying a
    baby. There is some fighting and some people die. Soon after, the lady sees all hope
    is lost, so looks up to the skies and makes a plea to her deity:

    "Lord Shiva!

    If death is the only possible atonement for my many seens, then I offer you my life,
    but I beg you to spare the child! This child must live to return to his mother, who
    awaits for him! This child must live to reclaim the throne to which He is the rightful
    heir! Mahendra Baahubali must live!"

    So fucking metal. You'd swear they stole the idea for the scene from one of Dream
    Evil's earlier albums. The only think it lacks is the electric guitars.

    So, after this introduction, what does Baahubali offer us?

    The introduction DOES tell us all we need to know. The plot is one of those overdone
    cliches in which some royal family is kicked out of the throne, and the heir must come
    back and reclaim it. Being an Asian movie, the bad people is unidimensionally bad.
    Very bad. The good people, on the other hand, is good beyond reproach. At least, on
    the surface...

    The special effects, visuals and edition are surprisingly good for an Indian movie.
    You can tell right away the production values still don't match a Tier 1 production -
    some of the CGI and effects are too obvious, for example, and some of the swordfighting would have not made the cut in Hollywood. Still, for the most part, they
    work. There is only one scene in which it was so bad it detracted from the experience,
    which, when you consider it is an Indian duology around 5 hours long, it is quite a
    feat. Specially noteworthy is the scenery, in particular the presentation of Mahishmati, a kingdom which comes across as a bit of an Indian Asgaard.

    Being an Epic, there are battles and duels to fill one or two Nordic Sagas. You may
    expect the main characters to display superhuman prowess when vanquishing their foes.
    At times it feels like a superhero movie in which superheroes wear ancient armor and
    run mooks through with spears. The origin of the superheroic powers is never explained
    directly - there are some hints about it, but that is it. Well, at least the moviemakers had the decency of labeling the scenes in which somebody knowns an elephant down with a gigantic maze with a discrete "CGI" warning in the bottom of the
    screen, so you can rest assured they didn't harm any elephant to make the movie. So
    kind of them.

    Thankfully, the movie is far from being ALL fighting, which is a very good thing. To
    be honest, the film has a non traditional structure in which we get some story in the
    present which follows Baahubali, then a BIG flashback (think, a flashback some hours
    long) explaining how his family lost the thone, and then another big sequence in the
    present leading to the resolution of the plot. A lot of the film involves political
    tension, social conflict and backstabbing, which combines very well with all the
    fighting.

    In case you have not guessed it already, characters are so over the top that they
    knock their heads with the moon if they are not careful. Baahubali himself is a very
    macho alpha male with a streak of naughty trickstery, who will climb a fucking mountain with his bare hands at the mere suspicion that there is a hot female on the
    top. Then there is Bhallaladeva, who is the sort of tyrant who does not mind sacrificing as many slaves as it takes to erect an enormous statue of himself, manipulates relatives into killing each other, and can never amass enough power.

    There is, still, a surprising ammount of character development in this movie, and
    every character worth a mention gets at least a character defining moment or two. Some
    characters are actually deep. Kattappa, the General of Mahishmati's armies, is a nice
    example: he is honor bound to obey whoever sits on the throne, and so he does, but he
    also knows how the current ruler gained his position with dishonor, and you can tell
    the knowledge is gnawling his guts. In fact I consider this a very dramatic character,
    because he is forced to do a lot of things he despises, some of which are very bad,
    for his sense of loyalty to the throne regardless of who sits on it.

    The political conflict in the movie isn't groundbreaking, but I find it to build
    tension quite effectively. You can see the pawns moving on the board and realize
    things are not going to end well. There are some moments in which characters are
    placed in interesting dychotomies: should the prince marry the woman he loves and
    forfeit the throne? Should law be obeyed when doing so brings dishonor to your wife,
    or should you defend your family's honor, even if it turns society against you? Nothing here is new, but the buildup to these questions is slow - the movie runs long
    after all - and works very well.

    This is no Hollywood material, and it shows in a lot of ways who are weird to Western
    viewers. I think the main detail that pops up is that they inject a musical segment
    every now and then. Most of them are fine but I can think of at least one that is a
    bit cringeworthy. I am also not much of a fan of the style of songs this people likes,
    but to each their own, I guess. I think they used all their metal when writing the
    plot and forgot to leave some for the actual music.

    You may have noticed I am reviewing both films at once and I refer to them both as The
    Movie. The reason is that both films only work if they are put together as a single
    unit. You cannot watch one only if you want to appreciate the story. Maybe they could
    have condensed the whole thing into a single film, but to be honest, I am quite happy
    with the way the end result is structured. It is not conventional and could still have
    been done with less projection time, sure, but fact is you don't get bored because
    there is always something going on. Except in some of the musical segments.

    Baahubali is not free of shortcomings. The production, cgi and plot are a bit naive at
    times. Still, it is easy to forgive all of these problems if you go in with the right
    mindset. After all, if you ware watching Baahubali, you must be in it because you want
    some Metal to accompany your Bourbon.

    BONUS TRACK:

    **This Metal album is free of political bullshit** (1) No diversity quotas (everybody
    is Asian, as you should expect) and no in your face aesops. Enjoy your politics-free
    Metal as they used to make it before 2017!

    1) Actually there are some darts thrown against arranged marriages, which I have heard
    is a hot topic there. Being an Asian issue, I would not consider this bullshit, but
    elephantshit, and does not interfere with healthy people's ability to enjoy the picture.

    BONUS TRACK 2:

    Have I already mentioned this movie is VERY METAL?

    Here is another sample of how Metal this movie is. From a scene in which an army is
    preparing for war and they have taken a bull to a sacrificial altar, as an offering to
    Shiva:

    Annoying Guy (after the good guy stops the blade directed at the bull):"We must do
    this. If we don't perform the sacrifice, the odds will be against us"

    Good guy: "Why would I spill the blood of an innocent animal, when I can offer my own
    blood?"

    It is not your imagination, it is electric guitars playing in the background...



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