Written By Indigo Ferro
Finally, three years after the announcement the Filipino production of Voltes V: Legacy, directed by Mark A. Reyes, has landed in theaters with three episodes compressed into a movie. It is considered a prelude to its official series to be aired for free TV by the GMA Network on May 8, 2023. A cinematic experience that is a reward for the audience’s long wait.
Voltes V is one of three Giant Robot Romance stories produced by Toei. It tells the story of five young people who were gathered to become tech machine pilots to be deployed as protectors of Earth against an invading alien race called the Boazanians.
The Voltes V group is composed of the Armstrong brothers, Steve (Miguel Tanfelix), Big Bert (Matt Lozano), and Little Jon (Raphael Landicho) along with Mark Gordon (Radson Flores) and Jamie Robinson (Ysabel Ortega). The tech machine ships that the pilot combines and transforms into the giant fighting mech robot called Voltes V.
The cinematic experience is a visual treat, but not without flaws. Not to worry, the positive outweighs the negative as how Reyes describes multiple viewer reviews. With that said, let us delve into the experience with as much details as we can.
Voltes V: Legacy Achieves Spectacular FX And Brings Hope For TV Series
The CGI is generally top-notch for a production intended for free TV entertainment. It exceeds effects done for current Power Rangers and Ultraman series intended for streaming. Though not yet on the level of Marvel Studios or Disney Plus-produced shows, Voltes V: Legacy is highly remarkable being birthed out from a Third World economy like in the Philippines.
The Volt ships that make up the robot and the Voltes V robot itself were so well-designed and rendered; we would break the bank just to have a complete set.
The greatest scene so far is the “volt-in” sequence which brought nostalgia to all Gen X’ers who grew up watching the anime in the ’70s and ’80a. The sequence was an updated version that brought us literal tears of joy and an electric surge all over our geeky human spines. What kills us all more in our seats is the thematic music in full Nippon language sung by Filipino singer, Julie Anne San Jose. The scene will stay in our minds and in our hearts forever as fans of the franchise.
The robot’s weaponry designs bring justice and honor to us toy lovers. We could not help but enjoy hearing the shouts of approval in the audience where most would blurt out the very iconic commands that summon the weapons such as “Ultra Electro Magnetic Top!” and “Laser Sword!”
The two beast fighters, Dokugaga and Baizanga, were also eye candy to look at. Thank you for keeping the original designs intact with beautiful upgraded looks. The robot fights were superb and the movements showed great consideration to physics and scale. What was also notable was when the already overwhelmed audience were silenced by the scenes of the killing blows done to the beast fighters.
Like the volt-in sequence, they were impressively identical to how the robot finishes the enemies off. The scenes were, of course, followed by roars of satisfaction from all of us who watch.
The Voltes pilots/heroes suit designs jive with the ships that they drive, making them looked armored or weaponized as opposed to how they look in the animation version. We would be looking forward to how the suit designs factor in more as the series start airing in free TV.
It is quite notable how color, lines and motifs on the Voltes suits are also logically spread out on costumes worn by atmosphere characters such as military and facility personnel. This touch helped in showing how a made-up military organization is believable.
The Boazanian costume design is pretty much campy in a good way, since the animation featured an alien race in Victorian cyberpunk motif. Cosplayable in so many ways. The general Boazanian public or crowd, however, seems reminiscent of Encantadia costumes as most play too much on gowns and medieval male tunics. It’s not much of a big concern, though.
Miguel Tanfelix carried his crew as how the Voltes team leader leads his team. He did the character justice and has become a heavyweight in acting. His acting has matured and has given us a convincing heroic character to follow.
Carla Abellana, who plays Mary Anne Collins Armstrong, the stern but loving mother, delivered serious heavy punches that brought in the catalyst for dramatic moments.
Epy Quizon, who took on the role of Boazanian enemy scientist, was hilarious. Some would say he did a little overacting, but still worked and gave us a necessary breather in between heavy moments.
As for the other talents in the show, we still have a whole show or episodes to look forward to in the second week of May.
There is good stuff that reminds us of how things went in the animation. In addition, there are even stronger aspects that made sense in of updating the language for modern, younger viewers. And then there are the scenes that needed more logic like how the Global/Earth defense forces readily accepted the word of Boazanian Baron Hrothgar (Dennis Trillo), an extraterrestrial, without critical interrogation. Then again, we’re probably that trusting in the future.
There’s also cringe dialogue that wasn’t really necessary, like the outdated statement going to battle made by Gordon: “Let’s get ready to rumble!” which made him sound like a boomer. Another was when he reacted to the Ultra Electro Magnetic Whip being part of the robot’s inventory. He yelled, “Yeee-haaaw!”, which sounded quite off as he is obviously not an American Southerner with how he delivers his dialogue throughout the movie. It feels pretentious and simply not relatable.
There were moments where Mary Armstrong showed inconsistency of character. At one point, she encourages her three sons to be brave, smart and safe but there are lines that seem to come off as not supportive or discouraging to hear. It is most probable that there are scenes from the original edit which were trimmed off for the movie release. Hopefully, we get a fluid and natural flow of dialogue in the actual series.
Though most scenes showed global defense entities a lot, details on military strategies and language seems to have been overlooked or neglected in the screenplay. We’re pretty sure some of Earth’s defense forces from other continents made their presence known in the unedited cut.
Voltes V: Legacy Achieves Spectacular FX And Brings Hope For TV Series
On the other hand, there are some instances that were made with less research like in the scene where a naval fleet faces off with a Boazanian beast fighter. The fleet failed to use a very staple warfare tactic called “crossing the T or caping the T” where a line of warships crosses in front of a line of enemy threat to allow the crossing line. This brings all their guns to bear. The scene done may have looked cinematic, but real warfare tactics would have been positively notable.
It was also weird that with all the alien tech applied on Camp Big Falcon, the Boazanian Sky Rook came in with in visible firing range without detection. The alien ship is humongous. Where were the early detection protocols even with Earth tech? Maybe the Boazanians had a cloaking system that made them undetectable. Was it edited out for the cinematic experience?
There was a dragging scene involving Mary Armstrong and her military convoy of ATV’s. ATV’s? They could go from 50 mph to 90 mph. Pretty slow for protective convoys compared to her CBF-issued Toyota HiACE, which has a top speed of 190 kph. The officer driving her van failed to secure his superior with the most viable cover against enemy attack. They went smack in the line of sight for the Boazanian’s weird self-entertainment and it all spiraled down from there which was muddled down by Quizon’s comedic scene.
Another Mary Armstrong sequence is her piloting a fighter jet that resembles a Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter or a B-21 Raider/Bomber. This heavily suggest that she is a trained fighter pilot. It’s part of the story and it is absolutely a cool characterization. What’s lacking was the fighter pilot qualities when in operation of the fighter jet. Trained pilots almost openly speak out and describe his or her every action in the cockpit, especially when using or deploying weaponry.
The reason is to avoid confusion in decision making and it has become a habit that most tend to stick with. Mary Armstrong doesn’t do that. Thus, she is either the most calm and collected mind in air battle or she’s just quiet that way and would rather give her last life lesson to her kids. The drama works for the general audience, though, and there’s nothing bad about it really.
We must understand that the theatrical release is three episodes worth of TV material trimmed to two hours where the focus is “cinematic experience.” One of its goals is to drive the audience to watch more of it on the GMA Network.
If there is something that needs improvement when it comes to global standards, it’d be to make the script more mature and believable. Sure, it’s a science-fiction and it’s all a lie, but how believable the lie is depends on the amount of truth that dresses up the lie. Nonetheless, the teleplay delivered what was promised. It followed the overall story with added flavor and color, intending to strengthen the character arcs of heroes and villains for the beloved franchise.
The killing champions of Voltes V: Legacy are the people behind the CGI (Riot, Inc. and GMA Post-Production) as well as Reyes’ relentless desire and passion of making their Giant Robot project real for the audience to see and fall in love with again.
This is by far the biggest achievement in Philippine entertainment history and obviously, the people behind the project shows no indication of stopping. And why stop now. Please make more of these.
By the way, there is a post-credit scene.