RPG Metanoia Movie Review

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(Editor’s Note: In support of the Metro Manila Film Fest and the local entertainment industry, New Media PH will do some reviews of the MMFF entries that we’re able to watch.)

On Christmas night my friend and I, with great trepidation, decided to watch RPG Metanoia. It was either that or Rosario, and after watching Rosario, I’m glad we ended up with RPG. I’ll tell you why on another review.

I was half-expecting the movie to bomb, replica audemars piguet watches but hoping against hope that it wouldn’t. I read somewhere that the movie took 4-5 years to produce; and I remember hearing about this movie a good 2 years ago in Level up Live 2008 where Mr. Gerald Salonga with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra performed a suite from RPG the movie with a short Teaser trailer.

RPG Metanoia is the first full-length 3D animated Filipino film. The story is fairly simple. It is a self-discovery of Nico (Zaijan Jaranilla) of his true self (and self-worth) both in the online world of Metanoia and the offline world through the help and influence of his friends and family members. Oh, and I failed to mention a world crisis brought about by the game that, obviously, only Nico and his friends can find a way to avert it.

But what makes RPG Metanoia notable is its total production value. Let me breakdown my review from this point onwards.

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STORY & PLOT
Don’t expect something as sophisticated as any Pixar you’ve watched, but the story and plot of RPG is pretty tight. In fact, versus most Pinoy film production, the story of RPG follows a pretty basic linear progression that conveniently has a start and a happy ending. At the heart of it all, RPG delivers a very entertaining, epic-Pinoy adventure movie that lightly touches up on some niche social issues like single-parenting, OFW-parenting, gamer lifestyle and attributes and such. At one point in the movie May (Mika Dela Cruz) challenges Nico to take hold of his offline (real world) life and points out that he needs to gain experience points there as well (and not just in the online world of Metanoia).

If I have to give a clear analogy about the story and plot, RPG Metanoia is comparable to Disney 3D movies (note: Disney not Pixar) like Chicken Little and Meet the Robinsons.

Rating: 3/5

SOUNDTRACK & SCORING
The soundtrack was nothing short of amazing! It has all that big orchestra epic-feel especially during crucial boss-fight moments in-game and will shift its tone and mood when we see Nico in the real world. My only gripe with the soundtrack is that it doesn’t have very memorable theme. However,replicae emporio-armani watches  the music did its job in heightening sequences and really giving you one grand adventure to the point that, during a long lull in the movie where Nico spends more time in the offline world, I was literally dying for him to log back on to Metanoia for some epic Adventure music!

Rating: 4.5/5

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SOUND PRODUCTION
The sound effects were also done with great care and attention. Everything from the hiss of Bryan/ Mang Ernie’s ultimate magic projectile to Bobby/Sumpak’s Gundam-like rockets was of perfect pitch! I think the movie also made good use of 5.1 surround sound technology as you can feel noises zoom past you as it does on screen. Voice dubbing was also done very well. I read a lot of reviews about how the lip-syncing isn’t as smooth as it was suppose to go, but then they based this all on the trailer. I suggest watching the movie; you’ll see how exact the dubbing is.

Rating: 5/5

GRAPHICS, PRODUCTION & ART-DIRECTION
I really have to hand it to the guys at Ambient Media, Thaumatrope Animation and Star Cinema (ABS-CBN) for really pouring in the hours to make the graphics, art-direction and overall production value of superb quality.

The first 5 minute or so of the film, it felt like I was watching a claymation or a 3D-cell shaded version of the film. The frame rate was also a bit off, and I almost wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. Good thing I didn’t. ‘Cause when Nico logged off, the animation became smooth and seamless. The direction of giving the online world a bit of “lag” was purely brilliant! If you’ve ever played an MMORPG, you’d know why. And if you haven’t, this is a good way to artistically differentiate the game world from the real world.

Fight scenes get better in the end and everything just spelled E-P-I-C!

This is also one of those productions where a keen eye in detail was made. From the design and setting of Nico’s neighborhood (from the interiors to the hyper-realistically drawn tricycles and jeepneys to the food choices, utensils—take note of Lily’s peanut butter look alike and Medeeplast Bandaid)to the vast landscape of Metanoia, you know the people behind this took out the “pwede na yan” mentality of their vocabulary list.

Rating: 3.75/5

CONCLUSION
RPG Metanoia is definitely on top of my “Will Buy” list when the DVD (or God-willing Bluray) of this comes out. Not only did the movie set the bar in Philippine Feature-length animation, it set the bar in Philippine Cinema Production. I’m a bit sadden to see that it only got 2 awards, one for best song and for best sound recording, I really think that the MMFF isn’t really a good venue in weighing a film’s potential.

What I truly love about the film is that it fully recognizes the audience’s knowledge and intelligence which really set the script apart from the likes of Rosario where everything was force-fed to you. RPG Metanoia unapologetically will not explain what mana is, nor what a greater potion does or what MMORPG really means. Instead they relied on viewer’s pop-culture knowledge and in-movie context clues to draw these small conclusions.

Overall if you ever picked up a video game as a kid (or until now) and would seriously want to have a pretty epic Pinoy adventure, I suggest catching this movie in the next couple of days. You kinda owe it to yourselves, not just as gamers, but as people who can (finally) catch a quality film during the MMFF period. Tops off the RPG, I hope they extend their run and please please please do come out on Bluray!
www.therpgmovie.com

OVERALL RATING: 4/5

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26 Responses to “RPG Metanoia Movie Review”

  1. Cheena

    I’ve been dying to watch this film! My boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to have a small chat with the director of the film (they were buying toys in a nice toy store in Alabang and are both Star Wars fans!) We also called him out on the frame rate, from what we’ve seen in the trailers, it’s a bit off. He explained that it was intentional so that viewers will feel ‘tired out’ after viewing the online world vs. the real world. Since you got the same experience somewhat, I guess that worked well for the film :)

    I hope we can still catch this during its run in the movie theaters! Congrats to the RPG team for making a film that Filipinos can be proud of :)

  2. MMO Dad

    Darn, I missed it! Went to Robinson’s yesterday and found that they’ve replaced it with other MMFF entries. Would’ve watched Tanging Ina if not for the disappointment of not being able to watch RPG Metanoia. :p

    • Colin

      Bluray bluray bluray!!! If anyone knows the producer please!!! I want this on the bluray! :p

    • kwizz

      sana nga release nila sa dvd, kaso napansin ko na hindi nirerelease sa home video ang mga filipino animation. napanood ko to, at talagang malayo ang agwat sa ibang entry, galing ng istorya ;)

      • MhannY

        sana nga release na nila sa dvd to.. naka lampas kc toh sakin..

  3. Barbie

    Hi! Thanks for the review :-) I’d like to make a correction. The music score was done by Gerard Salonga and Ria Osorio, and the orchestra is FILharmoniKA (not PPO). I’m glad you and other viewers enjoyed RPG Metanoia. I hope more will support this film that is made for the FIlipinos by the Filipinos :-)

    • Colin

      Oops! Thanks for the correction! Yes I was thinking of FILharmoniKA but my fingers typed Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra lolz!

  4. Woosh

    I just watched the movie yesterday and found the Metanoia Universe awsome. Specially the graphics great story line and the real life depiction of professional gamers/ gaming addicts also the funny way of portraying when it gets lag in game. But the only thing that annoys me from beginning to end is Nico’s voice acting. He has great lines and all, but I can’t feel any emotion and personality in him at all(and he sounds like he has a massive case of the common cold). He’s like just reading the script or something without internalizing the character as such. The supporting cast did on the other hand did a good job, specially Nico’s mom and his dad also that Sargo guy but the kids needs more improvement but passable for me, only Nico’s voice actor failed imo. It’s a great movie to watch and don’t buy dvd copies it will kill the future of Philippine digital animated movies and the Filipino Cinemas ^^. And also I agree with May(the girl in RPG Metanoia) there’s more to life than the virtual world(has the same idea atleast). I rate the story 5/5 grafix 5/5 voice acting 3/5 music 5/5.

  5. Tommy

    Re: frame rate. Remember that Nico’s vidcard was underpowered.

    • Colin

      Now that you mentioned it, the frame-rate when they were playing in the cafe was a bit better. I thought there were some inconsistencies of frame-rate but if the producers really thought of that, then WOW! I’m pretty impressed!

      Okay I think I have to watch this again, and probably in 3D too. :p

  6. skysenshi

    I’ve always rooted for Metanoia, partly because some of my students worked on the project. Plus I could relate (since I used to work for Level Up as a gameplay specialist). The story is very similar to the .hack// scenario (virus causing players to fall into coma), but I like the way they localized it. :)

  7. auldreen

    this is something Filipinos should be proud of. I’m a business student in a very reputable school in the Philippines and I would always think before buying something. This one is worth every single centavo you pay for it. Support Filipino Innovation guys! Thumbs UP for the real Filipino AWESOMETASTIC-ness!

  8. Andrew

    just watched Metanoia last night! Loved it a lot. I didn’t expect it to be THAT good! It’s super underrated on mainstream media… Enough of the fad about Agimat at Enteng Kabisote, Tanging Ina, or Rosario… RPG Metanonia is THE movie that millions of Filipinos SHOULD watch. Cultural and social relevance, scoring, effects, plot and story – my 200 was more than worth it… let’s promote this movie… if TV won’t do it, let online word-of-mouth do it! :D

    • Colin

      Super agree!!! It kinda sucks that traditional media seems to not really give RPG Metanoia the credit it deserves! :)

  9. Rajsh Sabio

    My boyfriend and I watched this over the weekend and indeed we were satisfied. Hindi kami na-disappoint sa effects/animation and all! Nakakatuwa! Kudos to the creator/s!

    Nakakaaliw din marining ang mga artista na nag-voice talent sa mga characters! Galing nila! Hehe. Thanks for this review btw! Happy new year to all. :-)

  10. Carla Mortel

    Thanks for the good review! Now, where can I catch this movie? Please help!

    • Colin

      Lolz. I think it’s still being shown in certain theaters. I know most SM and Robinson’s theaters still show this.

      (On a personal preference, Robinson’s Forum Pioneer is a good place to watch movies. A) it’s cheaper and B) not a lot of people…and C) Popcorn is pretty good for 60 pesos looolz)

      You can check movie schedules at
      http://www.clickthecity.com and just search your way around it.

  11. Bianca Alvarez

    I watched this the other night, i really got a kick out of the ending. haha :) super panalo!

    I think the best scene for me was the street games part, it brought me back to my childhood days and seeing taguan, agawan base and piko animated like that was so cool. haha!

    This film was impressive and clearly showed the talent of Filipinos. It made me proud! I hope we can expect greater things from the team who made RPG Metanoia :)

    5/5 stars!

  12. melody

    January 02, Together with the kids and kids at heart we went to market-market I was with my brothers age 20 & 16, pamangkins age- 11, 9 & 6. the original plan was to bring them to the playground and then dine out… too bad… the playground was closed. With these kids and nowhere to go, we decided to watch RPG (kids were chanting RPG! RPG! RPG!- and I just couldn’t say no)
    After 30 minutes in the long queue in buying tickets, we entered the movie house…

    I have one word for the movie.. ASTIG!
    My fave part was when Nico was playing pinoy outdoor games like patintero, taguan, piko, sipa, shato, tumbang preso, mataya-taya.. etc.. with his friends, and the music plays “hayaan nating mag laro ang bata sa araw, at pag umulan nama’y magtatampisaw…” brings back the memories of the past hehehe
    And everybody laugh when Nico paid 3 pcs 5 peso coin when he bought Yoyo. (pinoy na pinoy talaga!)

    Just can’t get over it! I was even accused of getting some commission from Star Cinema for promoting RPG!
    The kids never stop talking about it.. and the worst part is… they wanted to watch the movie.. over and over!
    Everybody said “thanks, the playground was closed.”

    To all parents out there, to kids and kids at heart (I’m sure we all are)
    This movie is a must-see movie!

    Proud to be Pinoy!

    5/5 stars!

    • Kat

      I know what you mean! I’ve also been accused of getting some commision from Star Cinema, to think I’m a more of GMA (since GMA has better reception in my apartment than ABS CBN Hehehe).. I’ve been promoting this movie to my friends. And I even kid around that when its DVD or BluRay will come out, I’ll strap my brother in a chair and let him watch hahahaha!

  13. Dodge

    So many pop culture references.
    So many metaphors.
    So many moral lessons.
    So many relevant issues.

    So little credit.

    This movie is a milestone in Philippine Cinema. Deserves much more than Best Music.

    • Colin

      Agree. :( sad. However, movie critics and film afficianado’s alike praise RPG Metanoia’s work. In fact, one of (if not the only) film critic from http://www.clickthecity.com, Philbert Ortiz-Dy, gave this movie a 5-star rating…and that’s saying a lot since he doesn’t give out those 5 stars easily to even foreign films.

  14. kwizz

    isang astig pang ginawa sa buong production, hindi nila nilagyan ng kahit anong product placement. pelikula siyam na hindi ginamit para mag indorso ng kahit anong produkto, astig!!