RRR ★★★½

It is very easy to love S.S. Rajamouli’s RRR. Though I might find it tempting to criticize the movie’s pacing or thematic cohesion, I am unable to do so, because it would imply disrespect to the most ferocious yet fun cinematic experience put to screen in recent years. Never has a film even dreamed of being this brutally, rawly epic. 

NTR and Ram Charan could truly not be better in their roles, their characters accomplishing superhuman feats under incredible stress, while we still believe that they absolutely have the capability to do so. Fellow Americans, obsessed with Hollywood and their revolving bag of tricks, this is something very different. Our superheroes throw shields, use hands and guns with skill but without versatility, with speed but without brute strength. I assert that the men in RRR bend the very nature and obstacles that prevent them from reaching their goal to their fiercely noble and incredibly domineering and perservering wills. NTR and the young girl kidnapped in the film’s opening scene might not have the chemistry of Gosling and Butters in The Gray Man, and I might prefer Butters by a mile, but one thing’s for sure - NTR’s character would fucking destroy Six in a fight. So would Charan’s. One might think Gosling is charming in his role, one might think he is badass and masculine, and I indeed am of the opinion that both of these things are true. But the men in RRR are simply more so, in every conceivable way. Well, the masculinity takes a hit after the two 5-minute Bollywood dance sequences where they are directed to grin ear to ear, but hell - they’re still pretty great dancers.

Aside from our leads, it is the overall soundscape that is most notable; it is a work of pure genius. It’s very hard to separate into song, score, and sound design and I will attempt not to do so for the purposes of honest criticism. M.M. Kreem has the vague title of “audio and music” in the film’s opening credits, so as far as I can tell he does all three. The film is a musical of sorts, with recurring songs and musical motifs constantly blending to form Bollywood magic. It’s the film’s main theme that with the power of raw emotional drive, one can do the impossible. It’s the score and soundtrack that accomplish this so thoroughly. My only minor nitpick would be the bad dubbing on the singing. As for the sound work, you have to hear it to believe it. It’s the fourth groundbreakingly genius, breathtakingly immersive sonic experience we’ve gotten in 2022, my well-known top 3 of the year joining RRR. Ranking these would be near-impossible, but I would be enormously compelled to give RRR the edge over one or two of its three competitors.

The monumentally large-scale production design, and the excellent visual effects are worth noting, but not right now, unfortunately. Perhaps someday I will write more - a proper amount, for three paragraphs does not do a three hour epic justice - about this truly excellent film, a film that truly contains some of the best action of all time, but not today. Today has fucking sucked. I plan on expanding to five nominees in every category but Lead Actress, simply to accommodate ridiculously stacked Juror categories like Lead Actor and Sound. I know it’s an incredibly hard task to carve out time for RRR’s monstrous runtime, but quite frankly, you don’t need to watch the film in one sitting. The film’s three acts work well separately, not in that they are separated by time or tone, just in that breaks or the lack thereof does not significantly impact immersion. So watch the film until a truly gargantuan set piece occurs (besides the film’s dual openings, there are three or four), and take a break. It’ll be worth it. Also, the Hindu dub isn’t noticeable whatsoever for everything but the singing. It’s the same actors voicing the dub, too. RRR is the definition of epic. It’s only after they’ve defeated an army, a beast, a mob, all the odds imaginable, that you realize they are in fact invincible. To me, the way Rajamouli crafts such a realization is exceptional beyond words.

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