October 6, 2014
When I heard that there will be a new film version of Ibong Adarna, I thought this would be a good idea to take my kids to see it. This is in order to see this classic local epic they learned (or will learn) in their sixth grade Filipino class come to life. Unfortunately, this turned out to be one big bad idea.
This version of "Ibong Adarna" is not set in far off Berbania, but locally in what looked like a lakeside Muslim community ruled by a Sultan (Joel Torre) and Sultana (Angel Aquino). Instead of three sons, they only had one son, Sigasig (Rocco Nacino). Sigasig was already a prince and warrior, but he was still studying three letter words even at his age. Instead of two elder brothers, we have an unscrupulous mustachioed Uncle (Leo Martinez) and his dim-witted sidekick (Benjie Paras) who have evil designs on the throne.
Instead of a bad dream, the Sultan fell severely ill because of voodoo inflicted by Bruha (Lilia Cuntapay, who else?) as conscripted by the jealous Uncle. A Nuno (Gary Lising) told them that only the song of a certain magic bird can cure the Sultan. Instead of a old hermit, we have a pretty fairy helping Sigasig on his quest. They even added a little native boy sporting a big afro hairdo to be his sidekick. They also added a tribe of mountain people wearing Cordillera threads (led by Ronnie Lazaro) to add further conflict.
Instead of squeezing the juice of a citrus fruit on his wound, Sigasig needed to extract the sap from what looked like a dry wooden wreath. Instead of the complex ending in the epic involving a love triangle and enchanted violence, here the magical bird turned into a princess named Adarna when it was kissed by Sigasig.
The disappointment we felt while we were watching this travesty on screen cannot be expressed by mere words. We were terribly bored, underwhelmed and seriously wanted to walk out. The acting was terribly cheesy, way beneath the known talents of the actors gathered for this project. The visual effects were like the quality of a regular TV fantasy program only, no effort for believability and obviously cartoonish. They do not inspire awe nor wonder at all, even for the kids.
Even the 1972 comedy film about this mythical bird starring Dolphy, Panchito and Babalu with Rosanna Ortiz was way better than this one. At least that one had the sense not to stray too much from the original story, and was far more entertaining. This one did not even have any educational value by veering so radically from the source epic. It will even confuse kids who are studying the epic currently. Watching this film directed by Jun Urbano was a sorry waste of time and money. 1/10.