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This is the most anticipated movie in Indonesia, in 2008. It is a movie about a small poor school, that has only two dedicated teachers and 10 pupils, struggle for survival.
One thing is very common for movie critics in Indonesia. They tend to give more credits if the movies being reviewed contain good moral values. The same thing happens with this movie, Laskar Pelangi. Many reviewers acclaim this movie, and I choose to be on the other side, to see the movie as an art, regardless of the moral values within the movie.
To say that this movie is a bad one of course is not true, but to say that it is an extremely good movie is an over-statement. It is good, up to certain aspects. The beginning is beautifully rendered, and will bring back memories to anyone who has been at Belitung Island. The siren sound in the background that signal the end of the work hour sure is a brilliant addition. But then, as the story goes, it looses grasp that has been so well developed in the first 15 minutes.
Another weakness is that the producers are not brave enough to take risk to use local talents, they still use movie stars. The 10 local kids that play the central role are showing their talents, and of course they don't have to struggle to speak in local dialect, not like the other movie star. Yes, some of the movie star play their role flawlessly: Robby Tumewu played remarkably well as "baba toko" (Chinese shop owner) to haggle all the time with the buyer, a common sight in Belitung; Slamet Raharjo Jarot also, as a sympathizer of the school. But the other I will rate as average, some even below average. But the central roles I admit are well acted.
The main weakness is the ambient of the movie. It lacks sights and sounds that brings the feel of being in Belitung. It focuses too much in the dialog, and miss the important shots that really shows what does it look like being in a small island in Belitung. The only one that gets quite good shots is the shots in the beach, which is beautiful, naturally.
The scenario which is based on a best seller novel of the same title also lacks the sense of integrity. It jumps from one scene to another. Yes, it is difficult to transfer the book to movie-script, because the book itself is too fragmented. The writer should be braver to invent new plots, in order to create a wholesome picture.
As conclusion, it could have been better, seen from the eye of myself, which has spend my entire childhood in this island.
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