Tuesday, December 27, 2005

MULAWIN the movie (2005)

A Festival of Flops, Part 1

MULAWIN the movie:
An Overwhelming Disappointment, An Utter Failure

by Reymundo Salao

After the suspenseful hype that the GMA network has been giving this film, and after the Film Reviews Board gave it an “A” grading, and considering the reputation that GMA Films have, I thought that MULAWIN the movie was going to change the way I look at MMFF (Metro Manila Film Festival) Fantasy movies the way “Encantadia” changed the way I look at Pinoy Fantaserye. I was wrong. MULAWIN was very VERY Awful. Do you know what this means? Only as far as my opinion is concerned, I can conclude that the Film Reviews Board are either really bad film critics (whose judgement of good film criticism is limited by films such as “Ang Pelukang Itim” or “Alamat Ng Lawin”) or they may be critics-for-rent (sure, you’ve got to be open-minded to the idea that Regal Films is rich enough to have critic friends too) Hello? Can’t you read through the lines? Mother Lily has been receiving awards for movies that cant even compete with a single episode of the X-Files! Sad to say that corruption is not only something related to the government but to the film industry as well.

Serving as an inconsistent sequel to the Mulawin TV series and also inconsistently tied up with the Encantadia TV series, The story of the movie begins in Encantadia during the war between the Sang’gres (the Encantadia terminology that refers to “royalty”) when the evil Pirena (Sunshine Dizon) led a raiding horde of Hathors (orc-like evil armies) to seize the Gintong Binhi (Golden Grain) which she then used to resurrect Ravenum (Michael De Lesa), the evil lord of the Ravenas (Evil Mulawins), who massacred the Mulawins, and held their elder leader, Dakila captive. Meanwhile, Mulawin warriors Aguiluz (Richard Gutierrez) and Alwina (Angel Locsin), who has lived their lives as normal humans have both had amnesia and they were retrieved by the surviving Mulawins, and made them remember who they are in order to go to war with the Ravenas and battle the evil Ravenum.

I thought Richard Guttierez's "Chuck Norris" brand of bad acting was going to be the only thing bad about this movie. But it was the whole package in its entirety that was oozing in what appears to be a perfect disappointment.


One of the major flaws of this movie is that it suffers from its miserable special effects.

The special effect of flying alone takes a good amount of rendering, not only in terms of tools and technology, but in terms of handling the special effects that should be uniformed with an actor’s interpretation of a flying scene. It's tricky enough to make a person fly, but to create a scene where a person would have wings that would flap and make that person fly, is an Herculean task for a CGI artist. In some cases, the rendering of the special effects may be satisfactory, but with the actor not acting with bodily movements that are uniformed with the special effects rendered, the scene just doesn’t totally work. In the long run, it's best not to venture into such a scene than to force yourself into making one that will only look bad.

MULAWIN is just not a feasible project considering the limitations that CG animators might have. It's possible for the combined forces of GMA Films and Regal to recreate a BRAVEHEART-type production. It’s possible for them to even re-create a CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK-type production. But to create a move wherein you had to make special effects shots for more than just two flying-Mulawin scenes is a task that is very very far from being possible without making it look utterly ridicuous.


Oh NO... it's the same Tagalog-movie flaw. Everything looks too polished-up clean and ultra-colorful. When we see the interior designs of the Encantadia castle, the drapes and the curtains look like they were fresh off the props department tailors. When George Lucas made STARWARS, he wanted the props too look worn-out and used, because it adds to the realism. Most of the bad Tagalog movies like this one does the opposite and requires everything to look like it was fresh off the factory.

I have loved the Encantadia set in the television series. It may be the same set used in this movie but this time, the set looks intentionally “floralled-up” and made to look three times as colorful as it usually is. Instead of making the set a bit monochromatic as to make the sets look genuine, the set of this movie just explodes with vibrant colors that you know everything is fake. The walls that may have made to look real, now looks like it was plywood that glistens with the paint it hides in.


EGAD! One Hathor (villain/orclike) warrior was wearing a striped white and purple shirt underneath his Hathor helmet and upper armor. And it was obvious! I guess they have ukay-ukay shops in Encantadia! There was also another scene in the climax where I see another Hathor warrior wear the typical white shirt underneath the Hathor armor!

Richard Guttierez had THICKER make-up than Angel Locsin. That was just plain stupid. You’ve just been to battle, and you have lipstick lipstick and make-up?

Michael De Mesa's character has a good make-up whose flaws can only be seen up close. In his acting of the role, he likes to spice his performance by sticking out his toungue out whenever he laughs. Did the make-up department have the lame error of disregarding this little aspect? Or should Michael De Mesa have just minimized his sticking out his toungue and by just eating some red or green candy to "improve" this little error? Or maybe the evil Ravenas just have a good supply of mouthwash and oral hygiene products?


What happened to the instrumental soundtracks that we hear in Mulawin and Encantadia? Where was the supposed-award winning musical directors that GMA brags about? Did the Regal films team take-over this department? Because the music in this movie certainly sounds like the same synthesizer-generated sounds of the typical Regal action-adventure flops that have stank the local movie industry for decades now.

It seems that Regal Films never made way for NEW music wizards and instead enlisted the aid of their own musical directors. I bet that my guess is right on the money.


Everytime Richard is made to act like he is staring with love in his eyes, it's a cheesy long stare that reminds you of Shampoo commercials, and he does it with a ridiculous smile and long pause as if waiting for the director's cue to tell him when to stop. This movie only proves that Richard Gutierrez doesn’t know how to improv. He’s the best example of a bad actor that just made it into lead roles because of the long standing nepotism in the film industry. From the Poes, to the Quizons, to the Sottos, to the Revillas, to the Gutierrezes.

His father Eddie Gutierez seems stoned in his role as Dakila. Always seemingly oblivious and very un-reactive to the scenes and the pace of the storyline. And despite his being a main character in the series, his participation in this movie makes him look like less of an extra. Completely unoriginal and lame, Michael De Mesa as the villain has a performance the same way most villains in typical (overrated) Tagalog movies do: they just recite their lines and laugh & sneer in a cliche villainlike manner.

It was refreshing to see Angel Locsin employ a different more rabid style of fighting apart from her fighting style in Darna, but film editor and director, don’t you know when to edit or cut the ones where Angel looks like a thin leghorn on shabu?

The storyline and DIRECTION

No wonder MULAWIN the movie was awful; it was directed by Dominic Zapata, the same director who along with Eric Quizon directed the overrated TV series DARNA, which, despite the masa hype it generates, is a virtual ridiculous disaster. Similarly, Zapata seems to direct MULAWIN Nowhere. And nowhere is reflective of its script. There's an emphasis to the term "SUGO" (there's more than one scene where some character would tell Richard Guttierez "Ikaw ang SUGO")(chosen one) in this movie which may sound a bit silly considering Richard has another TV series entitled SUGO where Richard is also repetitively called upon as the SUGO.

The storyline of the movie is not completely faithful to the continuity of the Mulawin and Encantadia series. But at the same time, it draws upon many instances wherein the storyline requires one to have been familiar with what has transpired in the TV series. In one (supposedly suspenseful revelation) scene, Pirena reveals that she was able to know the secrets of the heroes using Imaw's tungkod (staff) but the movie doesn’t even care to explain who Imaw is and what the staff can do.

There is also one scene where Gabriel (Dennis Trillo) acts out in pain as if he is about to transform into something (like maybe a werewolf) but he doesn’t. There's no explanation why is this so, what he was bound to transform into, and if he was indeed responsible for being a traitor. It was just pointless. We don’t even know if he survived the climactic battle or not. It's all just pointless. There is even no character development as we are just thrusted into scenes where we find out that everybody knew all along that Aguiluz and Ravenum are father and son.

The pointlessness goes on. There's one scene where Ybarro (a character from Encantadia) just appears out of nowhere fighting alongside the Mulawins. There is no progression or proper introduction of characters. Many of them just appear just for the sake of a pointless happy appearance (which seems to have become an MMFF tradition among the ugly movies).

Bad direction also refers to things that are opposite from common sense. The swords of heroes like Ybarro and Aquiluz have obviously killed not less than five villains, but after that we still see their swords glistening in cleanliness. As the climactic battle ensues, Pirena just disappears without even leaving a note. Did she intentionally flee from battle? Did she need to go to the bathroom? She's the second main villain and we just assume her absence in the end? In the main battle in the beginning of the story, the fighting never makes sense. The Hathors pause their fighting to give way for a dialogue between Pirena and her sisters. Because this is a motion picture, I would assume that the fighting sequences would improve from the television standards. It did not. It was even diminished, thanks to the improperly ambitious move of making special effects shots out of the sword duels. Those shots were clumsily fast, technically obvious, and cinematically awkward that the scene ends up as pointless garbage. The shots were too close to the actors that we never really see them have a duel, and whose fighting-face acting is unconvincing.

I dread upon the conclusion that MULAWIN the movie only destroys the reputation of the Encantadia series. And gives a damning demerit to GMA’s track record in making seriously fantasy TV series. GMA Films was presented with the grand opportunity to change the face of Philippine cinema in terms of action-adventure fantasy movies. They failed it by resorting to the old standards. MULAWIN the Movie is a Disappointment and a Failure.


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Anonymous said...

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- Norman