Friday, January 27, 2006

ENCANTADIA & ETHERIA: Junkie TV Feature Spotlight

Will it change the way we look at Pinoy fantasy features?
By Reymundo Salao

Usually, I never ever associate the Fantasy / Sci-Fi Genre with Pinoy TV features and movies, simply because whenever our Tagalog producers of the entertainment business venture into such a genre, they usually screw it up. They think of it as a bag of cliché for children. In my personal opinion, each and every producer in the local entertainment industry who has ventured into such genre was either too ignorant of the technicalities or the discipline, or just too narrow-minded to package such genre as something that only children can comprehend. Let’s face it: The Darna series was all very badly made, Mulawin is also ridiculous; though it has some originality, it is a project which is not feasible for today’s technology, and the Panday TV series is also a great big disappointment.

Not until ENCANTADIA, (which is now in its new season, re-titled ETHERIA).When I first saw Encantadia, I immediately thought that it was a rip-off of the Lord of the Rings. I immediately concluded that it was just going to be the same copycat project, like other badly made local movies. But by the time I was halfway through the first episode, I was impressed, for it did not have the same flaws like other fantasy series. No bad acting, no weak and ambitious special effects, no lame clichés. And more importantly, I realized that it was not ripping off the Lord of the Rings. Sure, some of the costumes and the weaponry may have some familiarity with the LOTR, but it does not copy the aspects of LOTR in totality and creates its own originality with a good plot and very smart dialogues.

Some people suggested that Encantadia is influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in some aspects like Hathoria refers to Mordor. Although some people argue that just as Tolkien's work was derived from other myths such as the Norse mythology, Encantadia derives some of its fictional characters from Philippine mythological entities (like Bathala and the Diwata). Accusing Encantadia as an LOTR rip-off is like accusing Star Trek of copying their concept of Spock (& the vulcans) from the LOTR Elves. Or like accusing Star Wars ripping off the many aspects of DUNE. The mere taking of inspiration from another medium does not mean that such a thing is already an imitation.

Soon thereafter, I found myself following each and every episode of the series. Two weeks after that, I concluded that I was an Encantadia fan. In the subject of judging movies and TV features, many people often jump to the conclusion that just because such a movie or TV feature is Tagalog, it sucks. When a friend of mine found out that I watch Encantadia, she immediately joked; “Gatan-aw ka sina? Daw MAID ka! Hehehe” (You watch THAT? You’re like a MAID/helper). I believe that we should be honest with our opinions. Local movies & TV features may be very far from perfect, but there are some that shine; there are some that are indeed products that are well-made with sincere and brilliant efforts. I believe Encantadia deserves praise and attention because it is probably the very first feature that takes the fantasy-genre seriously.

Although Encantadia may have some flaws, it is in totality, a work of progress apart from the projects that local producers have made. It also never tries to have a pretentious consciousness. It sincerely makes a mythology that aspires to have its own reputation and not just something made for momentary capitalistic reasons or showbiz narcissism.

The first chapter/storyline of Encantadia has ended. But it continues with its sequel (semi-prequel) ETHERIA. And in this new series, it has grown better. A tighter plot, a more impressive storyline, and the characters are given more depth.

I hope that this will usher in a new era of Pinoy features. I hope that we could soon look at Pinoy fantasy features as something that is indeed worth our attention. And not just something that can be taken for granted by childish plots and storylines.

No comments: