Shakti Soundar Rajan likes the high concept. He likes to say “I directed the first zombie thriller in Tamil cinema”. (That was Miruthan.) He likes to say “I directed the first space adventure in Tamil cinema”. (That was Tik Tik Tik.) He likes to say “I directed the first 'giant talking bear' movie in Tamil cinema”. (That was Teddy.) With Captain, he'd have liked to say, "I directed the first alien movie in Tamil cinema" – but the MGR-Nambiar starrer Kalaiarasi got there first, and then we had Super Deluxe. But maybe Shakti Soundar Rajan can say this one thing: "I directed the first alien action movie in Tamil cinema." The creatures in this film behave like soldiers and they face off against soldiers of the Indian Army. Let the fireworks begin!
Or so we think. But it takes a good 45 minutes for the action to begin. Yes, every film needs some time to set up its world and its characters, but these people have the depth of a sheet of paper. Arya, the captain of the team, likes to read big books like The Art of War. As for the sole woman under his command, she is uncomfortable in a sari. The rest don't even get that one distinguishing trait, however lame that might be. And how do they bond as a team? Over cone ice-cream. Don't get me wrong. I love cone ice-cream. What I hate is messing with the sensibility of a film. Why not bond over weapons? Why not bond over a dead colleague? Why not bond about how scared this mission is making you feel? You have to take us into this world, not drag us out of it.
The story is a mix of the usual creature-features, like Alien or Predator– but without the scares, the tightly held atmosphere, the A-level visual effects. The aliens look like a man in a rubber suit while standing and while crouching, they resemble rabid dogs. And the mother alien appears to be another animal altogether, which made me laugh. I mean, remember the mother-creature in Aliens, when the Sigourney Weaver character enters her lair? Forget laughing, I don't think I breathed. Why not just follow those established templates, instead of saying "I am Tamil-ising this premise with a love song and a sort-of heroine played by Aishwarya Lekshmi"? Plus, this love song makes little sense when we learn something new about this woman at the end. So even by Tamil cinema rules, you are not doing it right.
The name of the Arya character is Vetri Selvan – you know, because he is in the Army and all that. For a change, wouldn't it be nice to have a soldier named Ramesh or Suresh? Simran plays a scientist – I think. The flat dialogues and the bad cuts to reaction shots are even scarier than the creatures, which aren't very scary in the first place. Vetri Selvan begins the films by reciting some rules about fighting. One, identify the enemy. Two, fight with the enemy. Three, identify the enemy's weakness. Wait! Wouldn't you want to identify the enemy's weakness before fighting with him or her or it? And later, if you capture one of the creatures and have it in a special lab, wouldn't you have someone monitoring the area all the time? In other words, like always, the real thing our protagonist ends up fighting is the screenplay. And sadly, no amount of Army firepower can overcome bad writing.
National Award-winning film critic Baradwaj Rangan, former deputy editor of The Hindu and senior editor of Film Companion, has carved a niche for himself over the years as a powerful voice in cinema, especially the Tamil film industry, with his reviews of films. While he was pursuing his chemical engineering degree, he was fascinated with the writing and analysis of world cinema by American critics. Baradwaj completed his Master’s degree in Advertising and Public Relations through scholarship. His first review was for the Hindi film Dum, published on January 30, 2003, in the Madras Plus supplement of The Economic Times. He then started critiquing Tamil films in 2014 and did a review on the film Subramaniapuram, while also debuting as a writer in the unreleased rom-com Kadhal 2 Kalyanam. Furthermore, Baradwaj has authored two books - Conversations with Mani Ratnam, 2012, and A Journey Through Indian Cinema, 2014. In 2017, he joined Film Companion South and continued to show his prowess in critiquing for the next five years garnering a wide viewership and a fan following of his own before announcing to be a part of Galatta Media in March 2022.