Sunday, December 26, 2010

RPG METANOIA: Rated A for ASTIG


It announced itself as "The film that will put Philippine animation in the world map!"

My initial reaction? "Yeah, right."

There have been a few attempts in the past to produce full-length Philippine-made animated films, and the results would usually fall short in certain areas. And now comes RPG Metanoia, which aims for even bigger ambitions as the Philippines' first 3D-animated film.

As the opening scene unfolded, I was unimpressed. The animation was kinda choppy, and the quality of the graphics looked too much like a video game's. As it turned out, it was supposed to look that way.

The film has 2 main settings: the online game world of the title (thus simulating the feel of computer game graphics), and the "real" world. As soon as the movie shifted to "reality," the animation went a lot smoother. But what struck me was how, well, real the film's portrayal of the real world looked. The colors were not too different from the world outside my doorstep, and the setting was unmistakably Filipino. As for the game world, once my initial skepticism subsided, I came to appreciate the imagination and attention to detail that came in creating it.

It's often been said that Filipino artists possess the talent to create a world-class animated film, it's just that we lack the support to do it. Personally, I think a big part of the problem is finding the right material. Usually, we end up with pale imitations of the western animation formula. Think of Adarna: The Mythical Bird from 1997, which was pretty much a badly-made Disney-wannabe, and 2008's Urduja, which felt too much like a pinoy Pocahontas. Then there was Dayo: Sa Mundo ng Elementalia, a noble effort, but basically a "kiddified" interpretation of Philippine mythology. And that's another thing, locally-produced animation tend to be geared too much to children. And when I say too much, I mean that it's really what grownups think is entertaining to kids rather than what might actually appeal to them. Instead they'd be too cute, too wholesome, too silly, too preachy, too bland-- basically, too much of the wrong things.

Now, make no mistake, RPG is definitely a movie for kids, but it doesn't condescend to its audience. It's edgy and quirky, with a premise that is perhaps relatable to today's generation. The story deals with Nico, a young boy who immerses himself in the online role-playing game Metanoia to escape from mundane reality. Eventually, he realizes that there is more to life than just playing computer games and he learns to enjoy his childhood in the real world with his friends and family.

The film tells the story in such an engaging way that if this was all there is to the plot, it would still be a pretty good movie. But it soon becomes apparent that Metanoia is more than just a game, and an evil force lurks within it that threatens to take over the real world. What surprised me was that they introduced a hard science-fiction element into the story that one might think would be too heavy (and too dark) for a kids' movie, but they managed to make it work. And even when the story shifts to action-adventure "let's save the world" mode, the theme of not getting too lost in a fantasy world remains in play.

While the main draw of the film is its graphics, it's the storytelling that really grabbed me. There's good character development, the dialogue is natural, the humor is actually funny and not forced, and the plotting is very tight. I love films where every single element, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is relevant to the story, and that's certainly the case here. Also, at a running time of 1 hour and 45 minutes, it's actually pretty short, but they somehow packed so much story into such a short amount of time that it didn't feel that way at all. I could've been watching an exciting 3-hour epic for all I knew!

And the music-- GODDAMN, the music! Rarely (hardly ever) have I watched a Filipino movie (let alone an animated one) with such a kick-@$$ soundtrack. Really, to me a great superhero/action-adventure soundtrack should make you feel like leaping out the window (kids, don't try this at home) and charging into battle, and they just nailed it right here. I also give it points for using the APO Hiking Society song Bawa't Bata, the ORIGINAL version, instead of cookng up some lame-@$$ R&B version like most local movies tend to do these days.

Appropriately enough, RPG Metanoia has won Best Theme Song and Best Sound Recording in the 2010 Metro Manila Film Festival. It was also given the Gender Sensitive Award (hmm, interesting...) and the 3rd Best Picture award. Personally, I think it's THE best film in this year's MMFF, and I haven't even seen the other entries yet! I don't usually judge movies before I even see them, but honestly, what are the chances the other films aren't the same old $#!+ they've been dishing out each year?

(I'd also like to commend RPG for not succumbing to that annoying bane of most recent MMFF entries: blatant product placement. Even the last animated filmfest entry, Dayo, suffered from this. There are actually a few places in RPG where they could have easily snuck in product placement, but thankfully, they didn't give in to the temptation.)

It remains to be seen if RPG Metanoia will indeed make an impact on the world stage. As a Filipino-made film, however, it is truly unique, and it imparts good moral values, but not at the expense of its entertainment values. It has deservedly been given an "A" rating by the Cinema Evaluation Board. As far as I'm concerned, it may as well be an "A" for "Astig."

RPG Metanoia is produced by Ambient Media, Thaumatrope Animation, and Star Cinema. I am in no way affiliated with them. I just like what I like, okay?


20 comments:

  1. I watched it with my 12-year old son. It's really one good Filipino-made movie! I recommend it for all moms to bring their kids to.

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    Replies
    1. Zaijian Jaranilla as the main hero/protagonist based from the 2010 animated film soon to become the animated series for Hero TV/ABS-CBN network coming soon.Thanks for the information. From:Wayne. www.abs-cbn.com

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  2. i agree with this blog! rpg metanoia is a breakthrough for us filipinos! story telling,character design,animation style,timing and soundtrack really worked out well,fresh concept for today's generation and i think every filipinos will really relate to the story and setting. im a local animator and working in a studio that outsource the western shows, and it made me proud that this really show pinoy original content that all filipino animators in the industry is waiting for.how i wish to be part of this milestone! i would like to congratulate the thaumatope animation for the job well done and of course the director,cast and partners!

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  3. Checking the stats of this blog, it's interesting that this review has moved up as the most-viewed post here in just a matter of days. Usually, the posts about the more-popular pinoy superheroes are the ones that get the most views. Hopefully this means more and more people will be checking out this fine film.

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  4. I also recommend RPG to everyone that is watching enteng kabisote (again?)...The 3D animation is much better that the franchise (lumang formnula na)

    RPG Rocks! I hope they will do a part 2!!!

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    1. Based from the hit 2010 film about a young computer player becomes a brave virtual warrior & his friends battles master computer overlord & his minions save the world protect the innocent & keep the peace. Soon to become the animated series starring Zaijian Jaranilla with Xyriel Manabat Clarence Delgado Pen Medina Pokwang Jason Francisco & Agot Isidro directed by Wenn V Deramas will be aired on Hero TV/ABS-CBN network worldwide coming soon.Thanks! From:Wayne. www.abs.cbn.com

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  5. It's not too late to catch it, it's one of the top filmfest entries still showing in theaters. That's a great sign.

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  6. im an online gamer myself and this film helped me realize a lot~ but it still won't hurt if the producers develop a 'real' Metanoia online game/ ^_^ 5 stars for this awesome review!

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  7. Guys, check out K-Zone Nov. and Dec. 2010 issues for more RPG, this time in comics form! Collectors' items both!

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  8. Replies
    1. Zaijian Jaranilla as the main protagonist/hero and defender of the virtual world becomes the animated series underway coming soon. Thanks! From:Wayne.
      www.abs-cbn.com

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  9. Hey are they making a RPG METANOIA GAME AS we speak im 13 now and im...... ang hirap mag ingles oi mga tol meron na bang RPG METANOIA NA LARO PAKI SENDAN NYO PO AKO NG WEBSITE TNX e2 ang FB KO Christopher Cunanan

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    Replies
    1. Inspired from the 2010 film soon to be played on the PC iPad & IPod and later on PS3 & PS4 Xbox One & Xbox 360 videogames as soon as possible. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne www.gamestop.com

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  10. OI SORRY PAKI CLICK NALANG YUNG PANGALAN KO SA TAAS AKO PARIN E2 SI CHRISTOPHER CUNANAN

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  11. Replies
    1. I request all the videogame stories inspired from the film of 2010 now on the website and other systems includes PC iPad iPod Xbox One Xbox 360 PS3 & PS 4 as soon as possible. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne. www.gamestop.com

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  12. Doon sa last part ng rpg yung dad nya ba yung avatar ba nya ay pangalan ay iron??

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  13. pwede ba malaro to ?
    gusto ko sana malaro eh kasi sobrang astig ^_^

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