The rich Hindu mythology brought to life in The Legend of Gatokaca requires some foreknowledge to truly appreciate what this film is about.
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.
When we’re dealing with the classical antiquity as core concept for Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the entire Greek pantheon better show up!
All the DC movies from this year exist in a strange place. Since they’re not part of the new universe, they aren’t necessarily considered ongoing canon. That’s because of Warner Bros/Discovery wanting to revamp everything. After Black Adam (my movie review and commentary can be read here) did not invest enough into the legends and lore, I had trepidation regarding Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
I love the idea of incorporating mythology from ancient cultures into any superhero movie treatment. When done right, some heroes are just modern day updates to classical figures. For example, Horus is the spiritual predecessor of Hawkman. For the titular hero in this franchise, he embodies the best traits from six Greek divinities–Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury.
But when a sisterhood from Greek myth decides it’s time to torment Billy Batson (Asher Angel and Zachary Levi), he’s in trouble. They are targeting his surrogate family to reacquire the power bequeathed to them by Shazam (and The Wizard). The death of the gods and to resurrect them is a big theme.
Indonesian superhero movies don’t get a lot of love abroad. That’s because there aren’t that many and to criticise them against the heavyweights from America isn’t fair. As a result, these works really need word of mouth to get known. Legend of Gatotakaca (Satria Dewa: Gatotkaca) released in its native country last year, and now has international distribution courtesy of Well GO USA.
After giving the entire 16 season series many views over the holidays and into the new year with the knowledge of their future, upcoming seasons have been foreshadowed for Ninjago in 2023.
The LEGO Ninjago animated series isn’t over. Although Crystalized concluded with an epilogue showing Sensei Wu, Lloyd, Jay, Cole, Nya and Zane rebuilding, what’s slated for the future may well be akin to Star Trek: The Next Generation. After giving the entire 16 season series many views over the holidays and into the Lunar New Year with the knowledge of their future, upcoming seasons have been foreshadowed for Ninjago in 2023.
One major example includes Wu often mentioning how one can’t mess with “The Hands of Time,” which started in season two’s “Child’s Play.” It seems Wu knew a lot more than the Ninja when they got turned into kids, and had to use a potion to restore them back into young adults, along with Lloyd. This later season would also see Wu age and get thrown to a void, only to be reborn as a baby and relearn everything, which demonstrates how cyclic this series’s narrative is.
New Gods Yang Jian not only ups the ante in what Light Chaser Animation can do with the animation medium but also update a traditional tale to the science fiction medium.
Playing at Select Theatres Beginning Jan 20
Coming to Digital on April 11 and Home Video April 25th, 2023.
Light Chaser Animation‘s New Gods cinematic universe has another hero, and his name is Yang Jian (voiced by Wang Kai). He’s also known as Erlang Shen, a god with a truth-seeing eye, but in this film it has even greater power which can’t be defined.
Thankfully, no prior knowledge of who he is or the prior film are needed (Nezha Reborn) is on Netflix and my review can be read here), but it’ll help explain the surprise bits found in this tale. In this second film to this franchise, titled New Gods Yang Jian, he gave up his godhood to become a mortal, a bounty hunter, and for much of the tale, he has no regrets over this decision.
Despite everything we know about how the Divine World fell apart, nobody in this new utopia is truly at peace. The introduction talks about an averted civil war, but all is not well. In Penglai, a futuristic neo-feudal tech city located upon a mountaintop, the people live in relative peace. But this home of the gods may well become a target should a boy assemble the pieces of a destructive lamp. The beauty this location represents is just one of many places this film visits. The look of Ancient China juxtaposed with the industrial age looks wonderful. When the adventure moves to the countryside, the landscapes look like they’re straight from a bamboo tapestry. The softer use of colours is not always pronounced, and that helps with giving this movie a better richness than those highly saturated works other CGI films, like Kung Fu Panda, prefer to emphasise.