‘Gandarrapido: The Revengers Squad’ barely succeeds at being an effective superhero film. Action sequences and special effects remain mediocre at best throughout the two-hour duration of the film, and there is too much of unwarranted violence that seldom makes sense. Squeezing some substance out of this new attempt at the genre would just require a mundane perspective on what a film’s critical value is, hence, casual audience would easily find here some level of entertainment that would be just right to quench their thirst for fun, this holiday season.
Helmed once more by Bb. Joyce Bernal, the new Vice Ganda film features an assembly of superheroes with funny names and abilities. There’s a square-bodied guy named ‘Higopa’ (MC), deriving his name from his ability to swallow things at will. A curly-haired guy in blue costume and ironically calls himself ‘Flawlessa’ (Lassie), creates funny flesh-looking monsters from his pimples. A bald guy who calls himself ‘Pospora’ (Wacky Kiray) lights up and transforms himself when he scratches his hands down through his body. A round-shaped woman whose superpower comes from overeating, calls herself ‘Barna’ (Karla Estrada). But at the center, ‘Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad’ revolves around ‘Gandarra’ (Vice Ganda), whose main source of power emanates from a magical lipstick. Joining Vice Ganda, are 2016 Box Office King, Daniel Padilla, as ‘Rapiddo’, a superhero hero with superspeed, and Miss Universe 2015, Pia Wurtzbach, plays ‘Kweenie’, a flying superheroine in sexy gold outfit. ‘Rapiddo’ as a child is feared to grow up evil like his father ‘Madman’ (RK Bagatsing), whom Gandarra and his friends defeated earlier in the film. To protect the child from the dark forces of ‘Mino’ (Ejay Falcon), a more powerful evil being who has been locked up inside a mirror, Professor Clean (Michael Flores) orders Gandarra and her superhero friends to bring the child to the mortal world. There, the superheroes both await for the return of Gandarra’s memory, which he lost during the battle with Madman, and anxiously anticipate for Rapiddo’s activation of powers on his 21st birthday. But Mino’s forces have been looking for Gandarra and the child, and at the reins, is Kweenie, who has thought her sister abandoned her after winning the battle with ‘Madman’. She is now eager to get Gandarra’s lipstick which will free Mino from imprisonment.
The audience would be the one at fault if they would regard ‘The Revenger Squad’ as a superhero film. The narrative barely commits to this purpose that to expect the movie as a local answer to the much bigger-budgeted Hollywood franchise films would spoil the fun it somehow manages to deliver. The best way to enjoy the movie, then, is to treat it as the usual Vice Ganda film we’ve been used to seeing–slapstick, a shallow narrative, full of parodies, spoofs–and not as what it pretends to be. A big part of the film’s humor is its persistent usage of demeaning people’s physical attributes, but this is no foreign to a Vice Ganda film as his previous entries relied on similar, if not exactly the same, tool to solicit laughter.
Direk Joyce Bernal once more underscores family and what it means to people, to navigate the narrative to its emotional moments. Such emotional moments mostly tend to feel awkward, but they almost always immediately shift to comical scenes that turn the drama an effective precursor to something absurd, yet funny and entertaining. Vice Ganda, here, offers practically nothing new, and it is easy to see that the acts he is trying to pull off in the film, are essentially the summary of all the trends he managed to set throughout the year. And he does it again, effectively–he makes the audience lose their heads laughing at him, again.
It gets confusing to root for the other two lead actors as effective comic players. Daniel Padilla barely delivers his comedic lines appropriately, but his alluring charm amplifies the appeal to convince the audience that a corny joke still deserves a chuckle. This charm brings his character to oddly satisfying places and turn his mere stares at something the audience would irresistibly swoon at. Pia Wurtzbach stuns through her generous display of her sexy body, and that is a smart move to make up for her deficiency in stunts. The rest of the squad seem to be doing their job better, as most of the working jokes come from them, most of which bordering to craziness that often involves physical comedy.
In the end, what makes ‘The Revenger Squad’ fail, is its ambitions which sometimes undermines its inherent capacity to make the audience laugh. It is a comedy film, and it only becomes entertaining when it stops pretending it is something else. 3/5
5 – Excellent 4 – Very Good 3 – Good 2 – Tolerable 1 – Terrible