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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 9, 2017

Saving Sally Movie Review: Rhian Ramos Is The Perfect Screen Heroine She Should Have Been A Bigger Star By Now

WE READ that “Saving Sally” took more than 10 years to complete and it shows. They reportedly started filming in 2005 and the hairline of TJ Trinidad has since receded. Enzo Marcos, who plays the lead role of Marty, has long hair in the movie, but his latest photos show him now as a skinhead.

There have been attempts to do local films that combines live action and animation (“Isko: Adventures in Animasia” starring Ogie Alcasid, for instance) but the results are not really that satisfactory. The same can be said of “Saving Sally”, where the quality of the animation is quite amateurish. We don’t want to go into technical matters. Suffice it to say that the 2D animation technique used here might have been fine years ago, but it’s hardly suitable now and certainly leaves a lot to be desired compared to the 3D and computer generated animated movies currently spawned by Hollywood or even Japan.

This is not to denigrate “Saving Sally”, which is, by local standards, quite above par and we’re glad that a lot of people like and appreciate it more than we did. But even the groundbreaking Hollywood movie in this genre, “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, made in 1988, is way ahead of this in terms of technical expertise. We know local artists have lesser budgets and resources than their foreign counterparts, so maybe we should not expect more from them and just be more accepting and forgiving.

We have no doubt that if Director Avid Liongoren and his co-workers were given more financial resources in crafting “Saving Sally”, they could also have come up with an animated film that is of true world class quality to rival Disney or Pixar.

The story concerns an aspiring comic book artist, Marty, who’s secretly in love with Rhian Ramos as Sally. For Marty, other people around him are ugly monsters and that’s how they’re illustrated in the movie. The geeky hero is the knight in distress here and it is Rhian who becomes his smart damsel in shining armor who rescues him from a violent bully in school.

He falls in love with her but cannot express his feelings for her and even agrees to be the go-between of Sally and her boorish boyfriend, Nick (TJ Trinidad), so they can go out on dates secretly. But ultimately, it is underdog Marty who saves Sally from the monsters in her life, which include her abusive foster parents (Shamaine Buencamino and Archie Adamos) who beat her up and her insensitive boyfriend.

The gist of the story, which is really simple and familiar, is summarized in the epilogue that is shown after the closing credits, which a lot of viewers failed to see because they’ve been used to leave once the end credits is flashed on screen. This sequence calls to mind the similarly 2D animated portion near the end of “That Thing Called Tadhana”.

The movie’s biggest asset is Rhian Ramos in the title role. She has so much undeniable onscreen charm and she could have been a bigger star by now if she didn’t let her heart rule her and got entangled with the wrong guys who brought ruin to her budding career. The film’s lines are in English and it helps that she’s so at home with the language and delivers her dialogue seamlessly.

In contrast, you cannot say the same about Enzo Marcos. Although he fits his role as the underdog hero, he’s not just meant to be leading man material. No personal offense meant to Mr. Marcos but, to begin with, Rhian looks even taller than him. If he’s the type oozing with star quality, he would have been a bigger star by now. He used to be a child co-host of Probe Team’s magazine show for kids, “5 & Up”, and later became a vocalist of an alternative rock band called Severo.

As we all know, the past year’s Metro filmfest produced several breakout stars like Joshua Garcia, Ronnie Alonte and Christian Bables. Despite the success of “Saving Sally” as a surprise filmfest hit, we’re afraid we cannot include Mr. Marcos in this list. Can you imagine if someone with more incandescent star quality and charismatic screen presence played the role of Marty? It would have been the perfect breakout role, isn’t it?