“Siyempre, kaya ng Pinoy yun!”
That was what one of my friends had to say when during one of our Facebook discussions, the topic turned to the recently released film RPG Metanoia. Although other film festival entries had garnered more accolades and raked in more money at the box office, RPG Metanoia still stood out for the fact that it was groundbreaking, and a glimpse of Filipino innovation in the arts.
For those of you who don’t know, or didn’t have the opportunity to watch the film, RPG Metanoia focuses on one summer in the life of Nico, a preteen boy who invests most of his time and energy participating in an online game known as RPG Metanoia. He is joined by his group of friends, all of whom are just as into the game as he is. However what promises to be an idyllic summer spent upgrading their game personas and engaging in virtual adventures suddenly turns more complicated when they get involved in a worldwide gaming tournament. This event proves to be the beginning of a chain of events that eventually unleashes a horrific danger into the Internet, a threat that only Nico and his friends can stop.
Many of the other film festival entries were noteworthy in their skillful use of tried and tested storylines, artists, visual effects, and other devices. These were works that were certain to reach the heart of the Filipino moviegoer, simply for their accessibility to the present reality. However RPG Metanoia managed to marry the increasingly complicated world of childhood and family life to the fantastical and spectacular world of multi-player online role player gaming. (whew that’s a lot to type!)
I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing while watching the film, simply because the characters of Nico and his group of friends, ring so true to every day life. Many young people, whether they are gamers or not, would be able to see themselves in the characters and the various situations they get in. The “real-life” (meaning the non-gaming portions) segments of the story handled so many childhood issues with skill and sensitivity. Friendship, crushes, OFW parents, rules of the game, bullying and a myriad of other preteen realities made their way in the plot, all without crowding out the characters’ development. It was a uniquely Filipino take on the 21st century childhood.
Apart from the story and screenplay, what also stood out in RPG Metanoia was the quality of the graphics and visual effects. The real-life sequences were easy on the eyes and believable in terms of simulating the nuances of the real-world climate and environment. The characters moved with ease, without any of the clunkiness one may expect from a first effort at CGI. The portions of the film that took place in “the game world” had the same quality, timing and pacing as one would expect from an actual online RPG experience. While the sound quality of the film could have been improved, it did not detract from the overall enjoyment of this all Filipino CGI experience.
RPG Metanoia, as a film, definitely deserved all the accolades and praise it reaped. However it should also be marked as a forerunner in the Filipino film scene. For the first time, our Filipino artists broke into a completely different arena, not just in terms of cinematography, but even subject matter and storyline. Hopefully we will see more daring souls work towards capturing the Filipino experience, with the help of the freedom provided by CGI and other new animation and filming methods.
To read more about the film, the official website is at therpgmovie.com