THE 2002 Metro Manila Film Festival claimed it had a better batch of entries than in the recent years. The genres ranged from fantasy to comedy, action and drama.

Seven films were initially chosen by the screening committee headed by Caloocan City Mayor Rey Malonzo. Dekada ’70 (Chito Roño), Mano Po (Joel Lamangan), Agimat (Anting-anting ni Lolo) (Ogie Salvador), Lapu-lapu (Willian Mayo), Home Alone da Riber (Enrico Quizon), Ang Alamat ng Lawin (Ronaldo Reyes), and Hula Mo…Huli Ko! (Edgardo Vinarao). After a controversial settlement, other two films, Lastikman (Tony Reyes) and Spirit Warriors 2: The Shortcut (Chito Roño), were then added in the filmfest roster.

The topgrosser is “Mano Po”.

Ang Agimat is the adventure of a young boy named Pao (Jolo Revilla) who brings an amulet to a mountain hermit. The hermit tells him to subject himself to three rigid tests to determine his fitness to use the amulet. Passing the tests, Pao becomes a superhero to save the community from an evil mummy (Nancy Castiliogne).

Ang Agimat has undeniably convincing special-effects, especially when Pao fights the mummy inside a buried cathedral. The magic is particularly strong in showing the transformation of Pao to the stronger (Bong Revilla Jr.) and smarter (Goyong) versions also shows remarkable investment in special effects.

However, the shallow script made the film too predictable.

Meanwhile, Dekada ’70 shows the life of the Bartolome family as it struggles to survive martial law. The loving mother, Amanda (Vilma Santos), just wants her family to live a normal and peaceful life. However, things get complicated between her and her husband Julian (Christopher de Leon) as their children go their own ways. Jules (Piolo Pascual), becomes an underground communist, Emmanuel (Marvin Agustin) pursues writing while Isagani (Carlos Agassi) becomes a US Navy man. Jason (Danilo Barrios), who becomes a victim of an apparent summary execution. Benjamin (John Wayne Sace) struggles like a young boy to comprehend everything that is happening around him.

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Dekada ’70 does justice to the novel of Lualhati Bautista. With the excellent script and smooth flow of the story, the audience gets carried away. The direction is remarkable and the ensemble of characters showed chemistry that made each other stand out.

The aura is nostalgic. The clothes, houses, cars, and even the accessories show the mood of the ‘70s.

Lastikma, is another superhero movie that starts with an ordinary young man who gains super powers from a meteorite. Lastikman (Vic Sotto) has the characteristics of a flexible rubber that stretches and shrinks back to shape. Playing the villain Stryker, Lastikman’s nemesis who wants revenge and power, is Jeffrey Quizon, who at the same time plays another role in the movie— nerdy Jepoy who gets bullied around by his schoolmates.

Lastikman is a comic relief from the other films that have dramatic themes.

The MMFF captured the hearts of the moviegoers. Although not all entries were satisfactory, the filmfest promised better movies to come.

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