The GMA Network's new fantasy series Victor Magtanggol aired its pilot episode last night, July 30, and we are eating the terrible words we dished out.
As predicted, the first episode tackled the origins of everything to set the entire story on track. This includes the Norse mythology that the series stemmed from, unapologetically taking its stand as not a copycat of the Marvel mythos.
Here, Ragnarok has already taken place and has wiped out powerful gods, including Thor, played by former Game of Thrones star, Conan Stevens. Stevens fit the role perfectly with his powerful built and intense personality jumping out of the TV. This is despite the little screen time he was allotted.
The computer generated images have considerably improved, particularly the landscapes of the mythological locations.
The costumes, despite having early backlash, isn't all that bad. The character of Loki, portrayed by John Estrada, got most of the criticism when the character profiles were released, depicting him as an ungodly version of WWE wrestler Goldust. But if you watched the pilot episode, it felt like a TV adaptation of the iconic game series Final Fantasy. The over-the-top costumes and dramatic moments created that experience.
After the Norse mythos part, there was a huge time jump that felt a bit rushed. The montage hurriedly transitioned from what seemed like the Stone Age into a time lapse of a city with towering skyscrapers, so you know how a large chunk of history was ignored.
That, of course, brings us to the present, introducing Alden Richards' Victor and the Magtanggol family. We instantly know that Victor is abroad-bound, with a handmade poster wishing him well on his travel. Right of the bat, before any characterization of any of the characters whatsoever, Victor is put on the path of heroism. It felt forced and unnatural with the snatcher-outta-nowhere gimmick.
This leads to a well-plotted chase sequence through a wet marketplace with Victor sliding on tiled counters and even waving to the palengkeras who have crushes on him.
Not long after, when the snatcher gets trapped in the karenderya section of the market, the fight scene begins. And, boy, we shit you not, it was the best fight scene we've ever seen in Philippine television's recent history. It's superbly well-choreographed. The camera angles were perfectly placed for each big punch and kick, capped off with it looking like it was done in one take. The only downside to this is that the slow motion instances were a tad too many and disrupted the otherwise impeccable flow of action.
Of course, a little action and drama should be balanced with some comedy, and the show did just that with just enough funny moments to keep everything lighthearted. The Magtanggol family will make you believe that they are just that, a family. The quick-witted banter bouncing from one character to another is effectively hilarious. However, the script gets a little too repetitive at times and characters blurt out cliches here and there.
Another thing that doesn't sit well with us are the wigs, particularly the wig on Lindsay Johnston's character, Anne Magtanggol. We understand she's a kikay cosplayer, but we don't think she has to wear a wig all day, every day.
Now, we get into the story of Victor Magtanggol himself. His plan is to go abroad, specifically Canada, not only to work, but also search for his mother, played by Coney Reyes, who mysteriously disappeared there. He is frequently contacted by his family through video calls. At first, he is only idolized by his really cute pamangkin, Meloy, played by Yuan Francisco. But when Victor sends balikbayan boxes home, he is regarded as a hero by his entire family. The comparison of an Overseas Filipino Worker sacrificing a lot for his family and an actual superhero with powers and a magic hammer is established here, adding a hint of social commentary along the way.
There's a funny scene, after Miguel Faustmann's Magni starts to feel that Victor might be the next to weild Thor's hammer, he asks Victor, "Who are you?" To which Victor replied with introducing himself, where he came from and who his parents are. Then Victor mentions that his mother is Kapampangan. Then Magni inquires what a Kapampangan is, asking if it's a mystical creature.
Overall, the episode was surprisingly noteworthy. This might be due to the fact that it hasn't delved too much on the mythological aspect of the show. For now, we can only imagine what it will be like when the time comes. For now, we can say that Victor Magtanggol is more than just watchable.