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JM de Guzman,
A montage sequence in RPG: Metanoia reminds one of the days when the erstwhile hi-tech Nintendo Entertainment System (aka the family computer) fell victim to frequent blackouts and kids of those days had nothing else to do but go outside and play patintero and other such games. Kids playing real games is a strange scenario in a movie that's supposed to embrace and capitalize on the popularity of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). But it's a good thing, right? It may actually inspire the revival of Doctor Kwak-Kwak. Or maybe not.
It's actually this clever dichotomy done well that partly helps in making Metanoia become more than just the Philippines' first 3D-animated movie, moving sprightly between humorous scenes that involve an unnamed local barrio and a virtual world with pleasing visual styles. (Of course, if you're expecting something on par with Hollywood, screw you.) It also features adorable characters brought to life by vocal performances from Zaijan Jaranilla, Eugene Domingo, Aga Muhlach, and a few former Going' Bulilit tykes. Jaranilla voices Nico, an online-gaming geek who's never good in any real-life activity and chooses to dwell in the titular virtual world with his friends. As he puts it, it's the only thing he knows how to do well, so why not take it seriously? Things change when a malevolent program takes over the minds of virtual users, and render them in a zombie-like trance. It's up to Nico Zero in Metanoia and his gang of ragtag tweens to destroy the virus and save the world.
Metanoia engages with its inventive display of the local pop culture and surprisingly heart-tugging moments while not losing sight of its narrative. While it drowns in a wee bit too much mauling on believing in oneself (okay, we get it already) and the climax gets a bit preposterous, especially when it tries to explain the origin and mechanism of the virus, director Luis Suarez guides the film with a sure hand. It's an endearingly winning, creative piece of effort in a time when those qualities don't even seem to matter.
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