By tradition, I usually watch multiple movies during the Metro Manila Film Festival to support local cinema and this year’s fare is a hodegepodge of artsy and commercial productions. My first choices to watch were Deadma Walking and Ang Larawan. But because mom was a fan of television series Ang Probinsyano, and my target movies were not screening in local theaters, Ang Panday because our default choice. While it was not horrible, it would be a stretch to laud it for greatness. I am still confused about how I feel about this movie two days after seeing it.
Synopsis: Flavio (Coco Martin) is the grandson of the original wielder of the magical balaraw (sword) and the last in the line of Pandays, whose mission is to save the world from the evil forces of Lizardo (Jake Cuenca) and his minions. The modern day Panday however, was raised in the streets of Manila and thus was not ready to become a superhero yet at the time he was presented with the task.
Before critiquing the movie for its countless loopholes, I would like to commend Ang Panday for coming up with a movie that is consistent with the original films by Fernando Poe Jr.
Lead star Coco Martin must also be commended for continuing with the legacy left by FPJ in providing projects for out of work film veterans, much like what he was doing with his ongoing action series Ang Probinsyano. The use of CGI in this film was also good, as well as the special effects and soundtrack.
However, my chief complaint about the movie also stems from my biggest compliment. In wanting to cast all of the actors who have starred in Ang Probinsyano, the film suffered because of the excessive number of scenes that were not necessary overall. While it did attempt to make these scenes entertaining with action and comedy, many scenes rang flat because the movie became an endless parade of actors and scenes that did not contribute anything to the story at all. (E.g. The Harana Montage and the training montage to name a few)
Another issue I had was the adoption of designs from popular Hollywood films like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. The Philippines is rich with folklore about mythical beings. Why would Ang Panday need to adjust its designs to suit Tinseltown’s tastes? And because it wanted to showcase the designs it tediously copied, there were fresh opportunities to add more unnecessary scenes and unnecessary lines that bordered on ridiculous at times. It actually negated the homegrown superhero premise of the piece.
As if to add insult to injury, awarding the leading lady role to Mariel de Leon was a critical error. Coco carried all the weight in all of their scenes because a log could probably act better than this girl, sorry to say. Even though she’s a beauty queen, she was entirely awkward and ill fitting for the role. If there was any justice at all, they should have killed off her character by its end. Kylie Verzosa, on the other hand, was a beauty queen just like Mariel but in her brief appearance as a fairy in the enchanted forest, she showed more life than Mariel in all of her scenes combined. I am not simply saying this to bash Mariel but if she wants a future as an actress, she needs to seriously undergo workshops. Yes, plural. WORKSHOPS. They should have given Kylie the bigger role and relegated Mariel to the bit part for now.
Not only the newbies were weird in this movie. I assumed that Jake Cuenca, whom I have loved as a villain in his previous outings, would fit his role like a glove but no — he had to tweak his villainy with a tinge of psychosis, and the result was not pretty. Its hard to take him seriously in this role. Seriously.
I could also not get over the fact that despite portraying a character that came from a poor background, Flavio’s motorcycle looked pricey and his room looked like it was interior decorated. I could not get over the fact that he had a complete room all to himself while the rest of the adopted kids were crammed in a single room like sardines. Huh?
In all fairness, Coco really had the charisma to pull off this iconic role. He was entertaining to watch despite the ridiculous premise and by embracing the campiness of the film, he was able to pull off even the corniest lines of the script. Awra Briguela also deserves credits for making his subplot watchable and entertaining. I just wish the film had stuck to these strengths and built on it despite scattering the attention to plenty of unimportant details, leaving a lot of openings unexplored.
All in all, Ang Panday wasn’t horrible but gahd, the endless parade of unnecessary scenes to accommodate the number of actors in this movie was ridiculous. By its end, I was confused as to what its real purpose was — to entertain moviegoers or to annoy the hell out of non-die hard fans of Ang Probinsyano like myself. Its definitely leaps and bounds better than the Bong Revilla version though.
On the one hand, seeing as how it was reportedly directed by Coco Martin himself, I could see why he made the calls that he did. Its the standard formula being used on his long running soap and this is what he learned from years of the series. However, while this could pass for a daily series, moviegoers don’t have the same amount of patience as teleserye followers and Coco, if he wishes to direct future movies, should learn to find the balance between the two mediums.