The MMFF has always been known to showcase only the most advanced CGI technology in the films they feature. We mean, where else can we find films that rival the visual aesthetics of those very engaging powerpoint presentations you give your boss your those monthly status reports?
Seriously speaking, it’s not like the CGI technology here in the Philippines is bad, but as exposed to so many international films as we are, we can’t help but compare what we have to other high budget productions. And it doesn’t help that we try to bandwagon on the popularity of certain western films by literally copying and half-assing the premises and concepts (Here’s lookin’ at you Resiklo).
Saving Sally being included in this year’s MMFF was such a breath of fresh air for moviegoers who were sick and tired of being treated like simple-minded children. As we all know, special effects in Philippine cinema has never really reached its full-capacity for visual storytelling.
One of the best traits of Saving Sally was its ability to bring you into the rather foreign fantasy world of a cyberpunk-like Manila, despite cyberpunk being such a foreign concept. The film's way of inviting you to join Marty (Enzo Marcos), comic artist and certified geek, in his journey to woo his best friend, student, inventor, and one-peso mercenary, Sally (Rhian Ramos), is by making you feel what Marty is feeling through the visuals of the movie. The full CGI background was always on-point, which allowed the viewer to be immersed in the emotion the film wanted to project. The end product really showed how much effort and thought was put into such a beautifully crafted film, and hey, it only took them more than a decade to make!
Another reason for people to be invested in the film is the premise. The concept of being-friendzoned is one that is easily understood by this hugot-driven, millennial generation, which is probably why the film won the Children’s Choice Award in MMFF’s 2016 Gabi ng Parangal. But while it does have a very linear plotline, it does touch on a lot of heavier issues like corruption, alienation, depression, domestic abuse, and even subtle themes of suicide, which gives the “Typical Love Story,” much more depth than you would assume.
The characters of Saving Sally were likeable. Even the supporting characters of Marty’s and Sally’s parents were very convincing in their roles, providing stark contrasts between how they raise their children. Nick (TJ Trinidad) was most definitely a dick and you hated him for it (that and, being able to get it with Rhian. Lucky bastard). Peejo Pillar was hilarious and stole every scene his character Toto, Marty’s comic publisher, was in. And of course, who could resist not falling in love with Rhian, erm, Sally, with her quirky yet badass personality? The only character that we’re on the fence with is, surprisingly, Marty. Don’t get us wrong, Enzo Marcos really did well conveying the character’s crippling awkwardness, but there was a lot of room for character growth throughout the film.
Granted, it wasn’t the most thought-provoking film ever, and some issues could have been explored more, but the film was lighthearted and a joy to watch.
Marty isn’t the hero we should all strive to be. He has his faults: he’s weak, awkward, and some might even call him a coward, but he had the ability to do something—save Sally. In truth, anyone could be a Marty to a Sally, to be there and notice that something’s wrong and be courageous enough to do something about it, which we think is a pretty okay lesson for a typical love story.
The MMFF needed a movie like Saving Sally, not only to show that Filipinos have what it takes to make great animated movies, but to show that not every movie needs to push propaganda or needs to to be greatly involved with current issues to be good. That a Filipino film can be lighthearted and enjoyable but not shallow, empty, and probably produced to make a quick buck. Saving Sally shows us that with enough perseverance, hard work, and support from moviegoers, filmmakers can produce quality films.
Hoping the sequel comes before 2026, guys!