Six childhood friends discover that their parents are the legendary Super Noypi-the most powerful superheroes in the land. But when their parents are taken hostage, the six-who also have ... See full summary »
Six childhood friends discover that their parents are the legendary Super Noypi-the most powerful superheroes in the land. But when their parents are taken hostage, the six-who also have super powers like telekinesis, invisibility, superhuman strength and speed, shape-shifting, casting spells and control of both fire and ice-stick together to save them and the world. Written by
Better than a local superhero film has any right to be
"Super Noypi" is perhaps the only 2006 Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry I held with sincere anticipation. Why, from the overlong trailers (unmistakably Regal) it looked good, it's directed by the promising Quark Henares, and it has Katrina Halili. As it turns out, this film is a lavishly produced futuristic yarn with a heavy dose of all the CGI skills Filipino digital artists could muster. Henares' offbeat narrative style and the film's fetishism for cyberpunk elements might hinder any strong possibilities for a broader appeal, but for easy-to-please fans of the genre (and some of the stars), there might be something to find here.
In 2075, the Philippines is governed by a dictator in a ruthless super-villain Diego (Monsour del Rosario). With hopes of rewriting history, Lia (Jennylyn Mercado), a young woman expertly skilled in martial arts, is sent back to 2006 to enlist the help of a group of differently-gifted friends and defeat an erstwhile weak Diego. With their parents kidnapped and having learned a bit about their past, telekinetic Renz (Mark Herras), now-you-see-her-now-you-don't Annys (Katrina Halili), shape-shifting ala-Nightcrawler Yñigo (John Prats), spell-caster Euen (Polo Ravales), elemental staff-wielding Michi (Sandara Park), and yet powerless Tonton (Andrew Muhlach) have to realize who they are to save their parents, the future they know, and possibly themselves.
To fully appreciate "Super Noypi" one has to view it as an astute blend of the campy aura of "Sky High"; and the post-modernistic qualities of Philip K. Dick stories, "The Matrix," "Ghost in the Shell," and "Appleseed"; with a few mystical components of "Final Fantasy" thrown in (whee!). Henares clearly knows the field and employs it to deliver an amusing superhero tale while poking fun at various aspects of Pinoy pop culture from facetious remarks short of a wink towards pop rock band Cueshe to the uber-buoyancy of Korean-born Park.
As for the stars, Mercado ain't Angelina Jolie but she has enough femme fatale up her sleeve and is believable in her fight scenes. Herras has a one-note acting and like James Marsden as Cyclops, he lacks a substantial amount of commanding presence to make the viewer rightfully consider him as the group's leader. Nevertheless, his chemistry with Mercado is undeniable. Halili, after her disappointing debut feature film "Gigil," provides extra feminine touch to the film with her presence and she also gets to showcase some acting chops during one of the film's twists. Prats steals every scene he's in while Ravales and Muhlach give decent turns. Park's performance is hit-and-miss as she tends to go overboard at times. (Or maybe that's the point?) Supporting cast that include Jao Mapa, Jennifer Sevilla, Paolo Montalban and Kookoo Gonzales as the parents anchor the film's tongue-in-cheek humor with their understated performances.
The production design of "Super Noypi" is impressive for the portrayal of a futuristic Manila that seems to draw a heavy inspiration from "Blade Runner" although the cinematography by Jessie Pastor and Lyle Sacris is hampered by the limited aesthetic qualities of HD digital. Aside from one scene that has some of the protagonists flying with awkward-looking CGI wings, the film's effects are decent enough considering the capacity of local post-production companies as far as computer hardwares are concerned.
Although the commercial compromise is apparent, there's still a sense that its experimental approach proves a right step towards a promising future in this genre. Despite a few rough edges, "Super Noypi" is better than a local superhero film has any right to be.
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