MAC ALEJANDRE flounders with the second PANDAY film
ANG PANDAY 2, with a star-studded cast led by Ramon "Bong" Revilla, Jr, is a dismal failure -- as far as substance is concerned. Voiceovers on the TV trailers boast of the film's Hollywood-caliber special effects, which is true enough, but a derivative plot and banal characterizations sink the glossy film faster than you can say Fernando Poe Junior. The excitement of having two leading ladies (Marian Rivera, Iza Calzado) and Ms Lorna Tolentino and Ms Alice Dixson in supporting roles is quickly dissipated with Calzado's turning into an old lady (Rustica Carpio) midway in the film and Dixson's very brief screen time (with little to do). Alas, Tolentino herself is also given little to do except don a hideous witch mask and laugh maniacally throughout. But most disappointing of all is Phillip Salvador's hammy performance as the chief villain Lizardo, supposedly a character akin to Lord Voldemort from the HARRY POTTER series, or Sauron, from the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy. Even Salvador's makeup look suspiciously copied from Jack Nicholson/Heath Ledger (Joker, from the BATMAN films), and the monster Lizardo later turns into resembles the sea monster from the recent Hollywood blockbuster CLASH OF THE TITANS. After all, this film's target market is really the kids at Christmastime, so pander it does to the young ones' preconceived notions of evil monsters and good heroes and fire-breathing dragons and kidnapped damsels. Providing much-need comic relief (but suffering from insipid dialogue) is Benjie Paras, and Rhian Ramos returns (with a twist to her role). Eddie Garcia plays the sage leader of the dragon-people called "Ragona," and has the most earnest lines. The exquisite Lucy Torres has a brief role as Calzado's mother/queen of the "encantadas," but her one-liner upon Calzado's death is puzzling (unless she's also cast in the third installment, to avenge Calzado's death?) Revilla can do this role in his sleep but generously surrounds himself with actor friends and plenty of ladies. Alas, Alejandre's direction meanders and flounders, a talented cast is largely wasted, and by the movie's glib ending one hopes Tolentino and other sterling actors can have meatier roles for the third film. Kudos, however, to Salvador and Tolentino for their sportsmanship (one can't really expect much pathos from a formulaic film series), Garcia and Joonee Gamboa's ardent portrayals and Toto Uy's luscious cinematography/Von De Guzman's thrilling music.
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