Watikah hari ini adalah...
We went to watch Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. The most talked about Malay movie I've ever heard since Puteri Gunung Ledang. Reviews from write-ups, friends and family had a variation of:
"It was different and good."
"Must go watch!!"
Okeh. Last line tu, aku tipu.
But this is what I have to say about the whole movie:
I was disappointed that the movie had so many anti-climax visual. The camera kept zooming in for so many close shots that I wanted to scream. Why? I wanted to see more movements. Bodily expressions. What the room became when 'this' or 'that' happened. I wanted to feel and experience with it. To be in it. So...
The zooming in of 'magical powers' from the sun... Should actually be dispersing light in so many directions since the mirror talisman had so many pieces on it. But instead, it shot in one direction.
There wasn't any substantial showing what the relationship blossomed into between Embok and Merong. They just cut it straight to Merong leaving for the fight with Embok snarling in the dark behind all the others.
Yes. The Chinese Princess had better spoke better Malay than Merong. In reality, Jing Lusi is a Shanghai-born girl who grew up in England, learnt Malay for this movie. As for Stephen, he grew up in England and only began learning Malay when Puteri Gunung Ledang the Musical came through in 2005/6. So Stephen had more time to learn the language than Jing did.
THE CHARACTERS THAT WORKED:
For note: This, I highlight on scenes after Goa
Merong Mahawangsa [Stephen Rahman Hughes]
His Malay twang was weak. But I took it as in character, Merong had been travelling all over and hence, he is equivelantly strong in other languages and mothertongue as he is not so good with them in the overall aspect. [Am I making any sense here?]
He worked hard. The fight scenes, the languages. But I felt like something was missing. And I still don't know what it is.
The Chinese Princess [Jing Lusi]
She did a good job. It especially felt like watching an international film in scenes where Jing Lusi was with Khir Rahman.
Kemawas [Khir Rahman]:
His presence, felt like watching some Hollywood guy on screen. Like, in silence, just watching Mickey Rouke in those Iron Man 2 still shots where he sits in without a script. But I may have gone overboard with Mickey Rouke there. It's the only name that's popping out in my head right now.
Taji [Wan Hanafi Su]:
He was evil. Fullstop. So that only means he did a good job.
Kesum [Dato' Rahim Razali]:
He made through the wig. And his timing, always on dot.
Ying Ying [Nell Ng]:
Lang [Umie Aida]:
For two scenes only, it made presence. She reminds me of Christine Hakim. Some how.
The Admiral [Craig Robert Fong]:
His acting and moves were good.
Embok [Ummi Nazeera]:
Looking at her is alike looking at such innocence that Zhang Ziyi could bring. Ummi Nazeera played well. But I just think her character was underplayed with what was given and expected of her by the director.
THE CHARACTER THAT DIDN'T WORK:
Note: And of course... Why, why, why do they even bother for...
Lycius, The Roman Prince [ Eric Karl Henrik Norman]:
No presence, no charisma, not good looking... Why bother?
Most to most, I was disappointed with the too many close up shots, Stephen's long winded versions of sentences, the mirror not breaking into 1000 different directions when the sun came and Lycius. The Roman prince even got his Australian twang in one of the shots.
I am aware, many worked very hard and put in a lot of effort for this movie. Not deminishing what they have done, my comments are just as how I see they could improve in the future. I love the idea of Malaysian cinema's new direction. This would be among the first out of many to come. And the new step looks bright.
In support of great Malaysian movies.