REVIEW: ‘Voltes V: Legacy’ is a technical triumph of Filipino-made VFX
Finally, the live-action-CGI hybrid series adaptation of mecha anime Voltes V, Voltes V: Legacy is ready to launch in a few weeks, much to the anticipation of the ultra titos in the 70s and the millennials who grew up watching its English rerun on IBC 13, its Tagalog-dubbed iteration on GMA Network’s We Are Anime slot, and Gen Zs who caught up with the series on ABS-CBN’s defunct anime channel HERO TV.
Filipinos have a strong affinity for Voltes V, a story where Boazanian alien forces enslave people who don’t have horns. Martial Law babies could not forget the time the government banned the anime series with only four episodes left. It’s a gold mine the Kapuso network is banking on to continue its winning streak started by historical fantasy drama Maria Clara at Ibarra.
Before the series hits the small screens on May 8, GMA Network, animation company TOEI Co., and Filipino dubbing and licensing company Telesuccess Productions are bringing three weeks’ worth of compressed episodes in theaters dubbed as Voltes V: Legacy – The Cinematic Experience.
Directed by Mark A. Reyes of Encantadia fame, the film opens with flashback scenes featuring hornless royalty, Baron Hrothgar, played by Dennis Trillo. Trillo is not new to the Voltes V world, having previously voiced the character of Steve in 2006’s Voltes V Evolution redubbed series on HERO TV. He carries the gravitas needed for being both the Boazanian rebel prince Hrothgar and honorary human Ned Armstrong, the father of the three future pilots of Voltes V.
However, the initial parts might not be the best way to start the movie as the cuts were intended for a serial format. The prologue can be off-putting with scenes shot obviously on the green screen due to light inconsistencies, and edited in a way that shifts the audience’s focus abruptly. Viewers need to be patient though as the film starts to get better once Ned is out of the picture.
Iit's all uphill from here. The latter part features the first two early battles of the Voltes V team: Armstrong siblings Steve (Miguel Tanfelix), Big Bert (Matt Lozano), Little Jon/John (Raphael Landicho), rodeo champion Mark Gordon (Radson Flores), and well-trained ninja Jamie Robinson (Ysabel Ortega) against beast fighters sent by Prince Zardos (Martin del Rosario) to conquer Earth.
Throughout its 1 hour and 45-minute runtime, the film centers on the relationship of the Armstrong brothers with their mother, Mary Ann (Carla Abellana). A subplot involving Mark’s longing for a parent’s love is shown, giving a relatable dimension to the supposed second male lead. Jamie’s character was the least explored in the movie. Here’s hoping she gets a story arc of her own in the series beyond being involved in the teased love triangle.
All in all, 'Voltes V: Legacy' is a technical triumph of Filipino-made VFX. This is what happens when local creatives are given enough funding and time to produce stories as they are intended to be experienced.
Seeing the Voltes V machines “volting in” on the big screen is pure bliss. The bulkier, textured, and more detailed design of the mecha is astounding. From chain knuckles, ultra magnetic whip, laser sword, down to the final “V” explosive sign, Filipino post-production company Riot, Inc. knocks it out of the park.
The CGI and live-action scenes mash well together. I was in awe of how the movie showed the launch conveyor sequence, the “volting in” of the machines into one awesome robot, how Steve’s “eye” seat replicates the anime, and even the camera angles showing how Voltes V looks at a passing aircraft.
The scenes involving the headshots and interfaces of the Voltes V team are excellently done. It takes acting chops to take viewers in every maneuver move with mere close-up shots. Tanfelix is a relatively seasoned actor compared to the rest of the cast, showing restraint in acting, even in emotional scenes. Still, Landicho and Lozano bawling are standout performances. Having said that, don’t forget to bring tissues.
The third act is not without flaws though. Abellana’s character Mary Ann flies a fighting jet but does not use any microphone, which is an essential feature of a pilot's aviation headset. The fanboy in me rationalizes that the plane must have very advanced equipment to do away with that.
It also does not make sense when a beast fighter or Voltes V’s previous movement is being replayed on the monitoring screens of both the Boazanian Skull Ship, instead of showing the battle real-time. In broadcast news, repeating the same footage in a report is a no-no because it hampers storytelling.
Audiophiles, meanwhile, are in for a treat as the movie uses the same tracks as the anime. Singer Julia Ann San Jose performs the iconic Voltes V no Uta (The Song of Voltes V) originally recorded by Mitsuko Horie. It’s hard not to sing along as the machines transform into Voltes V. Voltes V: Legacy – The Cinematic Experience is even immersive with the heart-pounding bass of the theater’s surround system.
All in all, Voltes V: Legacy is a technical triumph of Filipino-made VFX. This is what happens when local creatives are given enough funding and time to produce stories as they are intended to be experienced. Voltes V: Legacy – The Cinematic Experience is a pretty good preview of GMA’s renaissance of quality TV content you owe it to yourself to watch.
Voltes V: Legacy – The Cinematic Experience is now showing exclusively in SM Cinema. Stay for one post-credits scene.
Watch the trailer below.