Available to Stream on Hi-yah and purchase on Amazon USA
Indonesian filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo wants to show to the world that The Legend of Gatokaca is built from folklore. It certainly shows why superheroes were once gods a long time ago. This individual is from the Mahabharata, an epic tale which includes fascinating elements from Indonesian mythology that put others to shame. Much of it gets explained throughout the film from the eyes of Professor Arya (Edward Akbar) and a student Erlangga (Jerome Kurnia). They teach Yuda (Rizky Nazar) about the past, and why it all matters if he’s to be the reincarnation of a demigod hero, Gatotkaca.
To get new audiences up to speed and yet move the modern update forward is better paced than other works I’ve recently seen. Although, the details go by quite fast and the 130min run time is rather long, I’m glad to have the home video release so I can rewind or pause. That way, I can make sense of the lengthy exposition.
Here, we’re introduced to Yuda at different stages in his life. His father abandoned the family when he was young and as the years progressed, his mother grew mentally ill. If that’s not enough to stress him out, then what happens next would drive others crazy. Just how he keeps it together is amazing.
When he learns about an age-old conflict between the Pandava and the Kaurava (essentially good and evil), all of his problems are minor. Meanwhile, the rest of the country isn’t aware of the secret war. But for those with the sight, they find an evil general named Aswatama (Fedi Nuril) is planning something big.
But before our intrepid hero can deal with it, he’ll have to grow up first. He’ll have to deal with matters of the heart, too. The romance is rather cute, and Rizky Nazar’s charm certainly shows when he’s with Yasmin Napper. She plays the love interest, Agni.
I don’t see The Legend of Gatotkaca as a simple comic book film. It’s designed to spotlight a world with a really rich mythology and a lot of the production’s budgetry constraints brings back fond memories of when I was watching Highlander the TV Series. Also, when the country is home to a handful of major religions, it’s sure to combine various ideologies together and not everyone can make sense of it. Here, the backdrop concerns mostly Hindu legend and to see it come to life in the modern world is exciting!
Storywise, this film is the second of two movies (Gundala was the first) set in the Satria Dewa universe. Jumping into this world without some foreknowledge wasn’t difficult when I did my research. I can’t wait for what the third instalment will be.
4 Stars out of 5