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Jul 19, 2016
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We recently saw Star Wars jump-start another trilogy with a return to a galaxy far, far away. After 20 years, we saw aliens once again destroy famous landmarks in Independence Day: Resurgence. And more than three decades later, we once again called upon the Ghostbusters (the female version of them at least) to save New York from being overrun by ghosts and slime. In keeping with the current trend of revisiting and rebooting classic movies and TV shows, a "requel"—which is both a remake and a sequel at the same time—of a local TV show from 11 years ago is making a comeback in a big way.

This is probably what they mean when they use the phrase "walang
tapon."
How can a man choose among four equally beautiful women?!

We're talking of course about Encantadia.

For those of you who were too young to remember, Encantadia was the hit television show from the GMA Network that (along with Mulawin) started the whole fantaserye craze over a decade ago. When it was first released in 2005, it was the most expensive and ambitious program to ever come out on local television. Encantadia was a game changer in the sense that it gave audiences an option when it comes to primetime programming. Kung dati puro sampalan at iyakan lang ang puwedeng panuorin, ngayon sampalan at iyakan pa rin, pero may kasama nang magic at espadahan.

The new Encantadia just aired its pilot episode, and it has gotten people talking about it once again. If you liked the original, then you'll probably like this one because it seems to have improved on the former tremendously. Based on first impressions, here are some of the things to like about it.


1) Terrific-Looking Cast

If Marian Rivera and Max Collins are sisters in this show then I'd like
to see more of their sisters. I hope there's six or seven more of them

The original Encantadia follows the story of four Sangg'res namely Amihan, Alena, Danaya, and Pirena. These four women are the daughters of Ynang Reyna Minea and they were tasked to protect four magical gemstones in order to uphold the peace between the kingdoms. In the original version, the sanggre's were Sunshine Dizon, Iza Calzado, Daiana Zubiri, and Karylle.

For the new version, the roles were given to Glaiza De Castro, Kylie Padilla, Sanya Lopez, and Gabbi Garcia. They have yet to make an appearance on the show so far so it remains to be seen how they'll fare. But from the promotional pictures alone, we can tell that they definitely look the part. Aside from these four lovely ladies, there's also Marian Rivera in the role of Minea, Max Collins as Minea's sister Amihan, Solenn Heussaff as Cassiopea, Rochelle Pangilinan as Agane, and Dizon as Aghara. Those names alone would be reason enough for any Filipino male to check the show out.

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But in addition the ladies mentioned, Encantadia also boasts of a cast that includes Dingdong Dantes, John Arcilla, Roi Vinzon, and Rocco Nacino, just to name a few.


2) Succeeds in building its own world and language

If you're wondering if those wings on the head of
Imaw actually flap,
the answer is yes, they do

In the story, the land of Encantadia is divided among four major kingdoms. There's Adamya, where strange forest creatures live and protect the water gemstone. Sapiro, which is the land of the Encantados, keepers of the earth gemstone. We have Lireo, home of the Diwatas which are the protectors of the air gemstone. And finally we have Hathoria a land of warriors that hold the fire gemstone and who would eventually wage war against the other kingdoms in their quest to wield the powers of all the gemstones. What's with the gemstones, you ask? Well, before it was divided into four, the gemstone held so much power that whoever had it would be able to rule over all of Encantadia. So it's kind of like Lord of the Ring's "one ring to rule them all" mixed with Marvel's Infinity Stones.

The show does a good job of differentiating each group of people from the other. Each kingdom is unique, with their own culture and values. You can see from the set pieces how different each kingdom is from the next one. But aside from just having costumes and set pieces that differ from one another, the inhabitants of Encantadia also have their own language. For all we know, the dialects could have just been the menu of Mang Inasal simply being read in reverse but we'll never know for sure because it's a made-up language. The point is the creators of the show made an effort to make a living and breathing world and they succeeded.

3) Heavily inspired by Hollywood fantasy movies while adding its own twist.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. That's a dragon that
looks like the one from
Game of Thrones flying towards
a kingdom that looks like Asgard from
Thor

From the opening scene alone, it's clear that the new Encantadia drew inspiration from blockbuster fantasy movies such as LOTR, Thor, and The Hobbit. You'll most definitely notice that the title sequence seems very similar to another hit TV show whose name starts with the letter "G" and ends with "Thrones." (Fun fact: they actually got the actor who played the role of The Mountain on Game of Thrones to appear on the show.)

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Of course there are a few people who would say "Hay naku, nanggaya na naman ang Pinoy" and to that I'd say "Hay naku, ang nega mo na naman." There's actually nothing wrong with that if you do it right. Movies copy each other all the time. You think it's a coincidence that we've had superheroes fighting against one another all year? Encantadia seems to have taken the stuff that worked for these movies and made it their own. Have you ever seen flying ships shoot fireballs at each other in a local movie before? No? Well, prepare to see one in Encantadia.


4) Pinoy visual effects have improved considerably

Solenn Heussaff as a beautiful diwata
because why the hell not, right?

A lot has changed since 11 years ago. Uso pa ang Friendster noon, kakalabas lang ng YouTube, at nagliligawan pa lang si Brad Pitt at Angelina Jolie. So you can just imagine how much the visual effects of the current iteration of Encantadia have improved from the original. In the past you'd probably dismiss the visual effects as "Okay na rin for a Pinoy production" but now you'd say "Okay to ah!" Of course, you still can't compare the effects to what you see in big-budget movies in Hollywood. And you really shouldn't. It would be like comparing a Toyota 86 to a Lamborghini. They both serve the same function but the other one looks so much better and is a lot more expensive. But that doesn't mean that the former doesn't look nice as well.


5) We can finally pull off a fantasy series and it doesn't look awkward or funny

Marian Rivera looking like the bad-ass
sword-wielding female version of Thor

One of the things you'll notice from the pilot episode is how the visual effects, the set pieces, the costumes, the language, and the choreography fit well together. There was a time when you'd watch something like this and you'd cringe at how awkward the acting is or how funny looking the props are. While it might be too early to tell, the new Encantadia doesn't seem to suffer from those same problems. True, it might have borrowed a lot of things from other movies and TV shows but it certainly feels like it can hold its own. One of the shows strengths is that it has its own unique story. The pilot episode as well as early previews of the next episodes seem to indicate that it will follow the same story as the original. But since it's being called a "requel" it would mean that although it's basically a remake, there will be new elements to the story enough to consider it as a sequel.

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The first episode of the new Encantadia showed enough promise for audiences to come home a bit earlier from work or school to be able to catch it around dinnertime. Like the original that came 11 years before it, Encantadia gives audiences something new to watch when it comes to primetime programming. Finally, something to cleanse our palate from all the drama and romantic programs that we've grown accustomed to.


Rey de la Cruz Jr. likes talking about films as much as he likes watching them. He runs www.reyview.org, a site that provides Filipino moviegoers with reviews written in a voice that is uniquely Pinoy.

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