I decided to open my mind this year and started it off by watching a filipino flick. I was actually choosing between Mulawin and Exodus, but after hearing from a friend that there would be no kissing scene between Iya Villania and Bong Revilla (which would have caused involuntary vomiting within the theater house), i decided to go with Exodus.
I was pleasantly to surprised to find that Exodus, despite a few shortcomings (such as a flabby Bong Revilla almost busting out of his tight costume and a few noticeably cheap CGI tricks every know and then) made sure it was worth the budget they asked for.
Caution: Spoilers up ahead!!! :)
Exodus, for those who have seen it, is definitely not an original concept. It's the standard storyline for ANY decent role playing game (RPG), and fans of Final Fantasy would immediately see Exodus as a Cloud Strife-type character --- The moody mercenary with an unknown past but a helluva fighter in combat who doesnt want to get involved with an impending war, but hey, gets a change of heart, recruits a team of powerful friends, massacres the story's badass characters and, get this... saves the world.
But dwelling on the story defeats the purpose of watching Exodus. Exodus strikes me as a "Hey, if you Hollywood bigshots can do it, so can we!" film for all Filipinos. The CGI, sounds, choreography and special effects were top-notch in the most memorable scenes, though they were obviously lacking in many of the minor parts of the movie. Overall, since it's not that big-budgeted, it spends time (and money) on special effects when you least expect it... and gives the impact when you need it.
It makes you go "Hey! That's a scene from Harry Potter!" or "Look! It's Mordor!!" similar to how The Returner made use of their own scenes versus other hollywood movies. In fact, for those who watched, i put in the titles of a few movies which i believe "inspired" some of these scenes:
1. The Matrix -- lots of scenes, but the climactic battle kinda struck me as the same scene where Trinity and Morpheus were holding onto the EMP button while waiting for Neo to come back from the matrix while all those robots were tearing up the ship apart. May also have inspired Aubrey Miles' glasses (On second thought... maybe not.)
2. Beastmaster -- The "Toros", or the upgraded monsters sent to massacre the remaining human strongholds, remind me of one of Beastmaster's monsters. The one created by inserting these weird creatures into the ears of normal humans.
3. Red Sonja -- I swear Silab is a rip-off of Red Sonja's little sidekick! They even look alike! (Although imagining Aubrey Miles in a Red Sonja costume is VERY nice.... Rrrrr...)
4. Terminator -- Nope, definitely not from comparing Bong Revilla and Arnold' Schwarzenegger's physique. Its more of the mercury effect used by Bagulbol when fighting Exodus. And Bong Revilla's acting.
5. Crouching Tiger/Hidden Dragon -- some fight scenes, especially when Exodus and Bangkila first fought and the ending fight scene
6. The Last Samurai-- Think Tom cruise's full samurai battle gear. Then picture it after a fight with 2000 killer ninjas and you get the inspiration for Exodus' costume.
7. The Mummy - The starting fight scene. Except the enemies looked like muslim extremists more than half-human jackals.
8. Lord of the Rings -- Some sceneries, but mostly the look and feel of the places. Gollum may have inspired the little critters in the cave as well.
9. Harry Potter -- Yes, harry potter! The cave scene where all these keys were flying. Plus, there was someone who reminded me of Mad-eye moody.
10. Aladdin-- Benjie paras' outfit looks more like The Genie than any Tikbalang i've seen portrayed. Iya looks like a princess jasmine, but Tantra may have inspired that outfit more than anything
11. Star Wars: JayR's costumes remind me of Queen Amidala. You'll know it if you watched it.
12. Lion King -- I was actually waiting for "The Circle of Life" theme song to play in the ending scene... hehe
Character-wise, the Revilla's, as expected, got the top roles. But you cant help wondering how much better it would have been if Cesar Montano or Jericho Rosales played Exodus instead (maybe there would have been no need for flab-covering armor hehe). The roles suited Aubrey, Iya (yum yum) and the Kid quite nicely, but Benjie Paras' character wasn't exactly endearing. The wimpy tikbalang did not get the impact it wanted and struck me as how JarJar Binks was in StarWars... A comic relief. From Hell.
Overall, I highly recommend watching this movie. Not for the story, maybe not for the characters (except Iya... Rrrrr), but for what it stands for. It serves as a good start for the new year by showing us what Filipinos can accomplish given enough time, money and incentive, and as Jack Black said in School of Rock, "Shoves it up The Man's ass!"