Christmas day is always a great day for Philippine cinema due to the opening of the annual Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) which showcases entries that have been screened by jurors to qualify for the filmfest. During the last week of every year, Philippine theaters are devoted to showing only Filipino movies that cater to the taste of discerning Pinoy viewers.
Two of the biggest competitors for the award each year are entries by Vic Sotto with his Enteng Kabisote franchise spawned from his former television series entitled Okay Ka Fairy Ko, while Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.’s counter attack varies with his two action fantasy franchises — Agimat and Panday (Blacksmith). This year, Vic Sotto’s Enteng joins forces with another box office giant Ina Montecillo (Ai Ai delas Alas) of Ang Tanging Ina to entertain both the young and the old. Meanwhile, Revilla chose to field this year another journey by Flavio and his magical sword in Ang Panday 2.
Enteng ng Ina Mo: In the fifth installment of the Enteng Kabisote franchise, Enteng, a repair shop owner who is married to fairy princess Faye, the heiress to the throne of the magical kingdom called Engkantasya, is finally getting used to peace and quiet in his household (after four previous adventures) when his wife is called upon to take the throne after her mother Ina Magenta, is held captive by the evil fairy Satana, who wants to take control of the kingdom. The villainess, while trying to sabotage Engkantasya and Faye’s reign, puts Enteng under a spell and he falls in love with Ina Montecillo, the former president of the Philippines and widowed mother of 12 children from four different marriages. As the two develop feelings for each other, Satana learns of a prophecy that her plans will not proper because of the intervention of an extraordinary mother — Ina Montecillo and the fight to protect the kingdom and the Kabisote and Montecillo families ensue.
Panday 2: After Flavio, the Panday (Blacksmith) defeats the evil Lizardo in the first movie, the powerful villain is revived by the witch Baruha and he once again lays siege to the towns to search of Maria, Flavio’s betrothed, who also happens to be the daughter of the queen of the forest fairies. Lizardo succeeds in his goal of capturing the maiden and seeping her powers, regaining his strength and growing more powerful. Meanwhile, Flavio becomes too caught up in the the power of the sword that he begins to lose sight of his true goal as the one chosen to wield the sword to uphold justice and peace. He also discovers that the beautiful woman he often dreams about is his trusty dragon friend Bagwis — whose true name is Arlana, a member of the Ragona tribe (humans who have the ability to take the form of dragons), who also happens to be in love with him.
PLOT AND STORYLINE:
WINNER: I give this to Enteng ng Ina Mo. No question about it. The story was fairly simple and easy to follow despite the fact that the filmmakers needed to balance out both elements of the two mega franchises of Enteng Kabisote and Ang Tanging Ina. They managed to achieve the proper division of exposure and integrating aspects of the two movies seamlessly.
Sad to say, this was not the case for Panday 2. As with the first movie, the filmmakers tried to do too much and introduce too many elements to the film that were often unncessary and served only to prolong the movie without any real impact. There were many scenes that they could have done without especially those that brought back characters from the first movie that they must have felt would add consistency with the two chapters. Well, it didn’t work.
WINNER: I would have to declare a tie as both films chose excellent locations to film the movies. The shots were also well thought out. Panday had the artsier angles and the grittier backdrop while Enteng Kabisote had the paradise scene down pat.
WINNER: Both films had excellent CGI but Panday slightly edges out Enteng in terms of fluidity and texturing. My complaint though is that the characters are eerily similar to Hollywood figures from the dragon in Harry Potter and the Kraken in Clash of the Titans. Some originality would be awesome.
Enteng, on the other hand, provided the more animated version of characters since its target market is clearly children. It employed vivid colors and goofy looking characters, mostly animal-inspired to catch the interest of the viewers. Not a bad effort.
PROPS AND SETTING:
WINNER: Another hands down victory for Enteng Kabisote on this front as the costume designs were well thought out and executed. It was obvious that the production wanted to do the elaborate costumes to add to the overall feel of the movie and they succeeded in doing so, raising the quality of their final outcome. Their setting was also better lighted and better set up than Panday’s dungeons recycled from Part 1.
I was fairly disappointed by how elaborate the CGI and effects was for Panday 2, but how cheap and fake the costumes and the props looked for the rest of the movie. The armor for the townspeople were made to look like wood but were in truth made of rubber matting or cardboard, as were their weapons. The costumes of the Ragona tribe were, in my opinion better suited for merpeople rather than dragonpeople and the rest of their equipment were also — you guessed it, rubber. In my opinion, the props looked like projects for art class rather than those made for the movies.
WINNER: Enteng Kabisote takes the cake for entertainment value mainly because it kept audiences engaged for the entire movie. There was a variety of phases to the movie and the transitions were also very good, getting the viewers involved in whatever the Montecillos or the Kabisotes are going through with each segment. The comedic timing of the two lead stars, along with the supporting cast made the entire movie a riot from beginning to end, from the real world to the kingdom of Engkantasya to the spoofs of different blockbuster movies that audiences more than related to.
While Panday had its moments, the film made the grave mistake of taking itself too seriously, its presentation unsure of whether it was targeting kids (as it was marketed) or the jurors to reap acting awards. The pacing was slow at best and the story was all over the place. For a film that presented itself as an action adventure, there were minimal adventure scenes that awed and amazed viewers, but there was a lot of dialogue, too much perhaps that some of the viewers were getting a bit restless. Considering the first movie, I felt this was a bit bet better but only slightly.
WINNER: All of the actors cast for each movie did great so I would say this one’s a tie.
WINNER: In my honest opinion, Enteng Kabisote is the winner of this fantasy face-off. It served up the laughs without compromising the different facets of the movie — it was able to deliver on the drama aspects and make the transition without being awkward and it was able to sell the partnership of two blockbuster hits in one movie. And mostly, it did not compromise on the final output of the movie, making sure that from beginning to the blooper reel, the audiences will not regret paying for their tickets.
Panday was not a bad film per se, but its main failing perhaps, was that it was not clear on what it hoped to achieve at the end of the movie. It focused its strength entirely on the special effects and the CGI to be at par with Hollywood that it forgot to check for the quality of other facets of the movie — wardrobe, props, script and whether or not the plot would appeal to its target audience, leading to a lot of inconsistencies and unnecessary scenes that drew out the movie, thus compromising quality over bravado when both should be of equal importance. The filmmakers and producers should understand that CGI and effects are only one part of the movie — there is still the total output to think about.