Film Review: Resiklo

BOTTOM LINE: The Philippines' answer to "Transformers" is an amusing antidote to sleek but soulless megabucks Hollywood SXF.

Udine Far East Film Festival

Udine, Italy -- A mecha fantasy with an environmentally friendly motto, "Resiklo" doesn't just feature robots reassembled from scrap metal and post-apocalyptic junk. It recycles sci-fi cliches across the ages, from "Soylent Green" to "Starship Troopers," from "Star Wars" to "Heroes." Yet Mark A. Reyes directs with a playing-for-laughs attitude, beefing up animated effects with live combats and a cast of daisy-fresh teen idols from Philippine TV.

If the roaring laughter of the Italian audience at Udine is anything to go by, Reyes has combined wonky robots, corny plotlines and bubblegum romance to rowdily entertaining effect. The film is most likely to provoke a reaction at midnight double bills or sci-fi and fantastic film festivals.

One can sift out a political subtext on Third World protest against First World military expansionism and material depletion from "Resiklo's" setting of alien invaders razing earth of all natural resources and genetically mutating humans into colonial collaborators. But most of the time, Reyes is busy catering to a lower (mental) age group with non-stop action of imaginative variety, spearheaded by "Bong" Revilla Jr, who operates a recycled robot to save the day.

Regarded as the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Philippine showbiz, Revilla doesn't so much act as throw his stumpy torso around. His chubby, family man image enables him to have greater human connection with domestic target audience (kiddies and their parents) than the usual Hollywood superhero hunk.

The effects, while on the money, are staged with dated charm reminiscent of vintage '70s Japanese mecha like "Mazinger Z." Image design often elicits unintentional laughter. These monsters wouldn't pass the auditions for "Ultraman" or "Godzilla."

Udine Far East Film Festival (Ignite Media Inc/Imus Productions)

Cast: Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Dingdong Dantes, Jennylyn Mercado, Bobby Andrews.

Writer-directo: Mark A. Reyes.
Producer: Andreas Ynares.
Executive producer: Marlon Brutista
Directors of photography: Jay Linao.
Art director: Rodell Cruz, Baloo Marro.
Music: Allan Feliciano, Arnold Buena.
Editors: Elvin Salvador, Aleks Castanela, Jay Halili.
Sales: Ignite Media Inc.
No rating, 105 minutes.