Review: Encantadia (2016) Pilot Episode

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Let me preface this by saying that I will not contest Encantadia‘s effectiveness in entertaining its avid viewers. I understand that many people, especially local audiences, do not demand visual sophistication and narrative coherence in the movies and TV series they consume.

But when people say Encantadia’s visual effects are top-tier — please, don’t me. Filipinos have done better. Erik Matti comes to mind with Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles and even the 2005 movie Exodus: Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom. While having budget limitations is understandable, it’s time to recognize that having fake-looking dragons and tall castles in synthetically vibrant colors is just as backward as what we had in the early 90s.

It would have been better if the visual shortcomings are used in an attempt to create a campy tone. Encantadia, however, takes itself way too seriously. What’s worse is that even if we forego the cheap visual look, the series’ mythology itself stands on an even rockier foundation.

Cassiopeia guards a Brilyante that’s sought after by beings with evil intentions—who these people are, we don’t know. Why they want the Brilyante? They just do. Why are they evil? They just are. It’s like the writers are telling us: ‘wag kayong tanong nang tanong, matuwa na lang kayo!

In order to protect the Brilyante from said evildoers, Cassiopeia breaks up the jewel into four, each of them representing the classical elements earth, wind, air, and fire. The four jewels are then handed to the leaders of the four kingdoms of Adamya, Sapiro, Lireo, and Hathoria.

Why the four kingdoms? Who knew. Basta ganun.

The pilot episode was essentially an hour long exposition explaining the history of the four brilyante. It was never made clear, however, what exactly the jewels do. They’re supposed to be powerful but even with the Brilyante ng Tubig, Adamya couldn’t stop Hathoria from barging in. Hathor king Avrak only had to say “akin na ‘yan” and boom, Imaw gives him the brilyante. And even when Avrak possesses two brilyante and his kingdom is now the most powerful in the entire land, Cassiopeia easily teleports into his castle and kills his guards.

So, um, how exactly are these jewels powerful if anyone could just show up and kill your people?

It’s also annoying how Cassiopeia conveniently prophesies Avrak’s downfall. There’s no inclination that she’s clairvoyant but bam, apparently Hathoria would be defeated by a princess born on the same day Avrak dies. Later in the episode, Reyna Minea learns that she’s pregnant. A few more scenes and Minea prays to Emre who then fast-tracks the queen’s pregnancy. How convenient that Minea is about to give birth sooner than later! Deus ex machina, am I right?

Employing major tweaks in the narrative just for the story’s convenience is honestly terrible storytelling. The script even violates the sacred “show don’t tell” rule. After Adhara defeats Amihan in a battle, the former holds a gem in her hand and shouts, “Para sa paghahanda sa laban namin ni Minea!” She was not talking to anyone at all; she just had to say it aloud because the writers were too lazy to actually portray her motivations instead of reducing it to one line.

The characters were one dimensional as expected. The queen is the loving, motherly leader. The soldier generals are willing to die for their kingdoms. The evil lords are just evil for evil’s sake. Nothing fancy, just cardboard archetypes with no depth whatsoever.

Was the show entertaining? It might be for people who only have three TV channels for options.

I, however, feel slighted for being a victim of a good build-up. I came in expecting a carefully planned mythology and a script that at least attempts to create compelling characters and deliver clever dialogs. What I got—and I say this with a deep sigh of disappointment—was an episode that is frankly a demo piece for terribly-written short fiction.

Review: Encantadia (2016) Teaser Trailer

I chanced upon this much-hyped trailer for GMA Network’s latest fantaserye Encantadia, a retelling-sequel or “re-quel” of the 2005 series that heavily borrowed themes from Philippine mythologies and foreign mythical epics, most notably that of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

The comparisons with the Tolkien epic came at a time when the LOTR trilogy was really popular, but this isn’t to say that the parallelisms were baseless. Instead of the Rings of Power, Encantadia has four brilyante or jewels that are integral in maintaining peace in the kingdom. There are also four main “races” similar to the peoples of Middle Earth and the enemy kingdom Hathoria bears an uncanny resemblance to Mordor.

But Encantadia still went on to become a commercial and critical success during its 2005 run. It was followed by a prequel and two sequels and now, in a few more weeks, we get to have another version of the original series.

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The teaser opens with silhouettes of the four sang’gre walking towards the camera in full battle gear. The first few frames show that these ladies are bad-ass warriors; they defy the helpless princess trope seen in typically androcentric tales that involve throne wars and royal crowns.

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The day I binge-watched ABS-CBN youtube videos

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I woke up at around 12 noon, went to the kitchen and grabbed a plateful of kanin and inihaw na isda. I went back to my room, turned the laptop on then started watching ABS-CBN Entertainment videos while comfortably slouched on my bed, the duvet cover caped around my back for optimum sloth mode.

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