Movie: Ang Panday (2017)

[ random movie time ]
It’s MMFF again!!!! And this series is back, skipping The Last Jedi.

Would I recommend Ang Panday as value-for-money? Probably not.

Ang_Panday_(2017_film)_Official_Poster

Coco Martin’s directorial debut Ang Panday (2017) is a lesson on tell, not show. Or is it the other way around?

What a subtle glance can do, a voiceover narration would do even better –or at least according to the screenwriters. “I will protect him”, says the woman as she shields a babe with her body. “I don’t like what he is doing”, monologues a man as he stares resentfully as his son.

The play-acting gets better. Jake Cuenca’s character and his henchmen are evil, and therefore they must be clothed in black always. In the heat, they must wear layers with leather. Indoors, they must wear shades. Jake Cuenca’s douche character must always wear his dress shirt unbuttoned to the navel –for an odd and still unfathomable reason.

(And in an effort to differentiate Lizardo from his other villanous characters, Curnca plays the character vampiric and flamboyant. WHY LIZARDO WHY.)

If Jake Cuenca chose to play a caricature, Coco Martin more so. Who is this man and why does he deserve the honor of being Panday? For much of the movie his character is a crude jokester or a violent, aimless rogue, and I can’t see neither end of any development. Oh wait, there it is. At the last!!! 15!!! minutes!!! And the level-up only took one training montage!!!!!!!

WHY FLAVIO WHY

There is something wrong with the pacing. THE TIMING IS GLACIAL. THE MOMENTUM IS NON-EXISTENT. In an effort to give credence to the third-byline artists, there are secondary plotlines that could have been done away with. The production budget would have thanked the lighter load, by the way.

And in trying to establish characters and motivations –an effort that isnunnecessarily excessive, and designed for a singularly obtuse audience– the first quarter of the movie took half the runtime, and everything from the rising action to denouement had to make do with the remaining minutes.

And even with that crunch, they had the audacity to launch a music video slash romantic montage in the middle of everything. WHAT IS THIS. Some four or five rap bars tried to squeeze chemistry between Flavio and Maria. They failed. Lol.

Despite the amateur quality of the approach, there are some great things the movie chooses to show. Not coherence or spirit, certainly, but flashes of technical skill.

The cinematography and action direction are mostly great. Manila is hot and dirty, and Coco Martin’s Flavio wades right into the thick of it. He winds through Taft with the dexterity of the most vexing, traffic-inducing biker. In one really amazing scene, Flavio weaves through different cars while cycling his self-made knife and other sharp wares.

The movie was unafraid to shoot scenes where they needed to be shot. Be it in the streets of Divisoria, or a rundown bus and harried streets, or in the outlandish territory of dwarves and elves, the shots are both wide and close. The film was generous in its hiring of extra hands and in the building of textured, colorful sets. That dwarf town was so cute.

It was funny at times, to be fair, and a certifiable family treat. The movie even featured a rap battle (my more hip cousin calls it a flip…top…) between settlers and demolitionists, completely coming from the left field. The familiarity of the cast of Ang Probinsyano might delight fans.

And finally, what struck me the most was the great amount of potential Ang Panday had to succeed. It seemed like in every turn, the movie was telling me the five hundred things it could have done a hundred times better, but didn’t.

One, it could have sincerely developed its social commentary, instead of dangling the plight of informal settlers and people struggling with internalized homophobia.

Two, the richness of the Philippine mythos were well-depicted, as far as our CGI technology goes, but it still lacks depth and character outside of the superficial design. I want to say they’re appropriating a tribal culture with the fur skin jackets and weave prints during the training montage, but aesthetics. I get it. BUT THEY WERE CLEARLY APPROPRIATING THOR’S HAMMER. Since when??? Can Panday’s sword conduct lightning and put out energy blasts????? Comes to the weilder when called????????????

Three, just trim the fat out of the movie and be confident of it. Maybe try and stick to only a genre or two before planning things out. I knew coming in that this was derivative, but the direction just went everywhere at some point.

Four, five, six….

A solid 2.5 out of 5, considering all movies that ever was. Maybe a nice 3.4567 out of 5 if the category’s just MMFF blockbuster offerings. I really like Filipino raps, so plus points for the bops.

P.S. By all rights, evil Lizardo should have won.

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