March 11, 2023

LEGEND OF GATOTKACA: This Superhero Doesn't Fly

2022 / 130 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😾

When it comes to superhero films, the simpler, the better. Not that one can’t have a reasonably complex plot, so long as everything boils down to three essential elements: good guys vs. bad guys, what’s at stake, and finally, loads of spectacle. The Indonesian film, Legend of Gatotkaca, struggles with all three.

Typical of the genre, it’s an origin story, opening with a prologue featuring a malovolent, lightning-wielding figure seeking a young boy, Yuda, and some kind of ancient heirloom. Yuda’s mother saves him, but is rendered somewhat insane from the conflict. Fast-forward to the present day, and Yuda (Rizky Nazar) is a down-on-his-luck college drop-out tasked with taking care of his ailing mother.

However, his life is turned upside down when his best friend is killed by the same hooded figure (maybe?). Later, Yuda himself is attacked, but rescued by a group of people called Padava, who’ve been waging some kind of war with their enemy, the Kaurava, for centuries. This ongoing conflict is explained - again and again - by several characters, each rendering it increasingly convoluted (at least to the viewer). Anyway, Yuda turns out to be some kind of “chosen one” who can defeat the mysterious Kaurava leader.

"The sofa would look better over there."
But despite tons of exposition, we aren’t always certain who’s fighting who…or why. Aside from Yuda, characters both good-and-bad come and go fairly regularly, some who seem to be Kaurava fighters, but we aren’t always sure. And unfortunately, none of these characters are compelling enough for us to care what they’re fighting for. Which leaves the action, which is here in abundance. But even then, the setting is often too murky - exacerbated by hyperactive editing and an over-reliance on CGI - to be visually engaging.

130 long minutes later, the film optimistically leaves the door wide open for a sequel, along with the usual post-credits sequence that’s standard in every superhero movie. But despite obvious franchise aspirations, Legend of Gatokaca stumbles right out of the gate with dull characters, a muddled narrative and, worst of all, drab execution of the action scenes.



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