The human race is on the verge of extinction, their final fortress under siege by a horde of supernatural enemies, their sole hope a lone warrior with a mysterious past. Exodus – played by Bong Revilla, a prominent Filipino politician as well as major acting star – is a mercenary hired to protect the final human settlement. Though Exodus successfully triumphs in battle, it is clear that this is a losing effort - the enemies are too many and the humans too few - and so the remaining human survivors adopt a new, desperate strategy: they must take the battle to the enemy, the evil Emperor must be destroyed. And so Exodus is given a new mission. He must travel to the fabled Magic Kingdom and enlist the help of the few remaining elementals, magical races largely eliminated by the same enemies currently threatening humanity, and with their aid storm the villain’s stronghold.
Having turned heads – and raised eyebrows – on the international festival circuit last year with his goofy, low-budget superhero flick Gagamboy, Filipino director Erik Matti returns to Fantasia with his latest offering, the kid-oriented fantasy picture Exodus. But where Gagamboy was seemingly cobbled together with little more than a roll of tape, a ball of string and boundless enthusiasm, Matti here takes the opposite approach, working on a scale and with a budget seldom seen in Filipino films, a fact that allows him to augment his normal lo-fi approach to character effects – obvious latex and wigs abound – with copious CG effects.
With its creative character designs (the Emperor’s tarot-reading fortune teller is a personal favourite) and a pair of dazzling standing sets in the villain’s torture chamber and the labyrinthine underground human stronghold, the real stars of Exodus are the production design team. By fusing the kid-oriented plot with a dense, surprisingly disturbing and surreal design aesthetic that at one point features the Emperor bathing in a massive fountain of frothing human blood, Exodus plays like an episode of Hercules or Xena, as envisioned by Terry Gilliam or Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
WINNER: Best Cinematography, Make-Up, Production Design, Visual Effects and Sound Recording, Metro Manila Film Festival 2005
Director: Erik Matti
Screenplay: Dwight Gaston
Cast: Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr., Benjie Paras, Iya Villania, B.J. Forbes
Producers: Rowena Mendiola, Grace Monteverde
Distributor: Reality Entertainment