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"Resiklo" (literally, "Recycle") certainly wouldn't be the worst film this side of the planet you'd see this time of the year. But any hope that this mega-budgeted movie (at least by Philippine standards) would enthrall will depend on how high you place your expectations as much as where you place them. This Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) entry offers a grand production design and decent CGI although the robots are only fun in small doses. Keep your expectations at bay and that may suffice to vindicate P120 off your pocket. But it's still a sad shadow of what could have been a terrifically tense Filipino sci-fi.
In 2021, the Earth is invaded by alien beings (Balangs) who then engage humankind into a worldwide war, destroying all the planet's natural resources in the process. In a post-apocalyptic Philippines, a band of survivors live in an undisclosed place they call "Paraiso," an underground society so hidden everyone else thinks it's a myth. Nevertheless, the people of this place fend themselves through their sheer ingenuity, using recycled scraps they regularly scavenge from the outside world for their basic necessities.
But eventually their hideout is located by the Mutanos, a group of beings who were once humans, but were converted by the Balangs into a superior mutated sentient. A chance encounter between Crisval (Bong Revilla), one of the residents of "Paraiso," and the son of the leader of the Mutanos leads to the death of the latter, and ignites the wrath of the Mutanos and wages a war against the humans.
The concept is actually fun but the perfunctory and predictable script, plus the embarrassingly wooden acting from Revilla limp this film right out of the door. Written and directed by Mark Reyes, "Resiklo" was supposedly pitched as an idea for a television series, but eventually landed onto the big screen courtesy of Senator Bong Revilla, who stars and co-produces. Reyes has a comparatively more coherent hold of the narrative this time than in "Mulawin: The Movie" two years back, but the rush to cover the expansive mythology shows through this anecdotal sort of a movie, following a number of characters from plot point to plot point but not offering a whole lot on the way of a sensible story. And the dialogues are written in dreadfully serious manners, it's hard not to force a groan when Revilla utters lines like "Overstaying na kayo, dapat na kayong i-deport (You should be deported for overstaying)!"
This leads to the film's biggest problem: it's boring. There's action scenes to be sure, but most of the film involves people walking around looking for scraps and faux-politicians talking about what they intend to do next to survive. The bland dramatic scenes then are punctuated by action scenes that are awkwardly edited and painfully lacking in the sort of visual detail that really makes them adrenaline-pumping. The movie's selling point of robots battling each other occur so short and so fast, and the rendering of the animation is at times so inorganic it's distracting. Personally, only one fight scene stands out and surprisingly it's that of Empress Schuck, where her blind character fights off Mutanos soldiers with her walking cane. Sexy.
Which makes you wish that the girl gets more butt-kicking screen time. Or maybe instead of playing a doctor (which takes a lot of time buying into), Michelle Madrigal were cast in the lead role wearing skimpy outfits, gunning the enemies out, ala Milla Jovovich. It wouldn't make the movie anymore logical, but it certainly would make it more interesting.
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