Nico and his friends are skillful and avid players of the MMORPG Game known as Metanoia. But although Nico is very much courageously heroic in his virtual universe, in real life he is awfully clumsy and not much the physical type of kid. Eventually, he learns that he should also enjoy a kid’s life, away from video games. But when new online villains turn out to be destructive computer viruses, Nico and his friends log in back to the world of Metanoia and stop the destruction of the virus by vanquishing these foes in online battle.
There had been already many animated Pinoy movies that have come out over the years, but almost all of them are in traditional animation. RPG METANOIA, on the other hand, is the first fully CGI animated movie, and for something that is new to local cinema, it is more than impressive. Of course, you cannot compare it to movies done by Pixar films, but if you do, the difference is only so little. Maybe a mere two or three levels apart from Pixar standards.
If ever you’re one of those stubborn people that will indeed compare it to Pixar movies, you’d probably say that the animation lacks some fluidity at first, and some of the dialogues looked out of sync. But after the first fifteen minutes of the movie, you get used to it, and in your mind, it’s as fluid as life itself. You gradually ignore the little flaws and the little “imperfections” because the story and the characters are engaging and real; they never feel “artificial”
All the pessimistic impressions of the movie have been countered with what is truly a movie that is not only decent and satisfactory, but truly impressive. One of the pessimistic impressions that were shared by many when the trailer was released was that this was merely jumping the bandwagon of RPG gaming and 3D animation. But when you watch the movie itself, you will find that this really was an earnest depiction of online gaming.
Many critics often have this belief that there are no good video game movies (even though Resident Evil movies have been successful commercially, they are thought of as really badly made movies). RPG: METANOIA is not based on an existing video game, but I now think of it as the best video game movie I have ever seen. It is one video game movie that really does mirror, interpret, and captures the essence of MMORPG gaming; from the designs of how the virtual universe of the game looks like, to the character designs, up to how the players are able to play their game (spell casting, creature summoning). In a manner of speaking, this is an adaptation of MMORPG gaming in general.
There is a serious level of detail that is injected in the movie. Unlike previous Pinoy-made animated movie attempts, this one ventures to be so much more intricate and detailed. From the spoofed brands, to the (Star Trek) Starship Enterprise model in one character’s room, to the VLC player program icon which is among the icons in one character’s PC wallpaper. All these details that spice up the characterization aspect of the movie. This film is bent on really creating a movie that wants to breathe in cinematic life rather than the cardboard attempts to merely jump on a trend.
There are also other details that nicely reflect very Filipino elements. The pinakbet and milkfish for dinner, and the chorizo with egg and rice for breakfast; and then there’s the highlighted object in the movie which is the “Evil” Mask that is obviously based on the mask used during the Moriones Festival. The fighting style of the main character Nico is itself an unannounced reflection of the fact (or popularized myth?) that early Filipinos used yo-yos as weapons.
The fighting was also impressive. It was able to utilize some manner of imagination or inventiveness in creating the sequences. There is even one action sequence where the heroes figured out how to escape their predicament because one of the characters applied his skill in sudoku. In addition, what is remarkable about the movie is that it even attempts to inject some scientific sense in how the (villainous) virus was created or how it works. It is in moments like these when you realize that this was a movie that there was really some real conscious effort to really make this movie more than impressive.
It’s also nice that the story actually gets to talk about the virtue that kids should learn to enjoy (traditional) outdoor games to at least balance out their love for online gaming. I was initially afraid that this movie was going to an end that glorifies gaming too much. But instead of being something that promotes video games; this one is more of a movie that depicts the feverish hobby of online gaming, and the aspect that kids should not rely on gaming too much.
All in all, RPG METANOIA is an excellently-crafted video game movie and a really nice family movie as well. High points on the graphics, high points on the story, the voice acting, the direction, the script, and even on the concept itself. I would not be surprised if this movie would end up dubbed in English and repackaged in the international market, and gain international fame. It is a great family movie that should not be missed. For me, this already is the Best Picture to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival.