I’m so bursting with so many things to say that I don’t know where to start.
Last Friday, Louie Suarez, the director of RPG Metanoia dropped by the station to invite us to some screenings of his film and to give us some tickets to give away. The movie is more than half a year old, having been shown in last Christmas’ Metro Manila Film Festival, and a lot of our listeners have actually begged us to catch it at the time. Of course December is always our busiest time for hostings so we just didn’t have time to watch it.
So when we got the invite, I thought, why not? Everyone’s saying it’s good, so might as well. But I will be honest, I didn’t really expect much. I know people liked it, but all I was expecting was a decent enough Pinoy animated movie. But what I ended up watching would qualify as a rock-my-world shocker. The film is INCREDIBLE. I was expecting good, but not GOOD. I kid you not, this film is a motherf**king ass-kicking work of art. You might be thinking I’m just saying this because we met the director. No effing way! I’d say this even if he were my arch enemy! But if for whatever reason you trust me, then trust me when I tell you that this is one of the best Pinoy movies I have ever seen. It’s a crime that we only attach the words “quality film” to heavy dramas and epic biographies. This movie is basically a cartoon that’s “just” about kids and MMORPG’s. But I tell you, if you’re a movie buff, you do yourself a disservice by not watching this. Where do I even start?
At the core of what makes this movie great is one of the best scripts of a Pinoy film EVER. My main beef with Pinoy films is that the characters never seem to talk the way we regular people talk. It’s almost as if they all speak in this talumpati style that doesn’t sound natural. It sounds like a script. Even when the characters are spouting street obscenities, somehow it sounds staged and a bit theatrical. This movie feels REAL. You get involved with the characters and you identify with them. So when they’re in danger, you cringe with terror, and when they triumph, you revel in their victory. There is never a dull moment. The movie is almost 2 hours long, but it felt like 30 minutes. And it is hella FUNNY. The one liners just unfold ever so effortlessly that I ended up LOL’ing OTF. You don’t feel the set-up of the punchlines, they just feel so natural. I also love that it injected a lot of Pinoy elements in the mix, but not shoving the Pinoy-ness down our throats. Nothing too hard sell, like I said, it just flowed naturally.
The animation is surprisingly good. I was expecting clunky animation, but the visuals were seriously world-class. If you check out the trailer I posted, you’ll know what I mean. My best measurement of an animated film is if I actually forget that I’m watching animation. If I start seeing the characters as real people, they’ve done their job. The animation reminded me of a mash between Japanese anime and those Gorillaz videos. Some scenes reminded me of one of my all-time animated favorites: The Iron Giant.
The voicing contributed a lot to breathing life into the animation. The kids, especially Zaijan Jaranilla, were spot-on. For the adults, Eugene Domingo as a mom did a bang-up job for such a quiet role. I didn’t even know that big stars were voicing the characters (we missed the start).
The songs were also very well chosen. It’s got that nice Pinoy rock vibe that’s cool and current for today’s market. I especially liked that “Bawa’t Bata” segment mainly for personal reasons, because that APO Hiking song was one of the very first records I bought as a kid. It really brought me back to a special place.
The film is technically top-notch. But that stuff makes it GOOD. But what makes it GREAT in my opinion is its HEART. Many big budget films fail in their narrative because they lack heart. Maybe they’re more concerned with winning an award or earning millions in the box-office, but the best films are just telling a story, a story that’s close to their heart. When a film breathes and its heart beats, you create movie magic.
It’s a crime that it didn’t do as well in the box-office as the other MMFF movies because Pinoys need to see that Pinoys can make great movies that are solid artistically and viable commercially. It’s a perfectly enjoyable popcorn movie that can stand tall beside the Pixars and the DreamWorks of Hollywood (I mean every word of this!). The animation is globally competitive, and the writing and story-telling are unmatched. It’s sad that it is no longer showing and no DVD release in the near future. So what’s the point in me telling everyone that they should watch this? I guess that we shouldn’t have let this one slip by. This is one movie I would stand behind. I am 100% confident in recommending this movie to everyone. It’s possible you won’t like it as much as I did, but for sure you won’t regret watching it. For me, this will definitely be in my top ten favorite Pinoy films EVER.
We were talking to the director if it’s in any way possible to stage an extra screening for our listeners. It’s just so frustrating to love a movie, tell everyone how good it is, then to have no means for them to watch it themselves. Pray that we work things out. Seeing this movie is a MUST. It won’t be a free screening if ever, but we will give away some tickets. I don’t know if we can even make it happen. But if we pull this off, YOU MUST WATCH IT! I feel so frustrated not pitching this movie WHILE it was being shown! I am officially a FAN.