Movie Review: Dayo (2008)

I decided to watch Dayo for my first movie to the 2008 Metro Manila Film Festival because it was hyped as the first Philippine-produced fully-digital animated movie. I wanted to see how far local talents and production houses have come far in a time when computer-generated images and 3D movies are lording it over worldwide. Let's just say we're still getting there.

Dayo (which means "foreigner" or "someone from another place who came here") is a fantasy story based on the Filipino folklore of mythical creatures, with a modern twist. The title comes from the lead characer named Bubuy (voiced by Nash Aguas) who comes to a world called Elementalia in search of his abducted grandparents (think Spirited Away). As a "dayo" to mystical land, Bubuy must team up with newly-discovered friends (which includes a Manananggal, a Tikbalang and a Nuno sa Punso) fight off enemies that prevent him from completing his task.

First the good: the story is a very imaginative take on Philippine mythology and folklore-- Elementalia as a land where all creatures come together is immersing. Plus, the contemporary characterizations to the mythical creatures (like a narcissistic tikbalang and a good-hearted manananggal) make the film easy to relate to, especially for children.

Now the bad: I was disappointed with the animation of the film. Yes, it was a hybrid of 2D and 3D animation, but the execution was pretty flimsy. There were also a lot of inconsistencies in the animation and character composition where I could sense the seams of the scenes were stitched together.

Another bad: The film features an impressive list of actors and actresses who lent their voices to the film, but I feel the movie wasn't able to translate the emotions to the images effectively. Maybe it was the missed synchronization of the lip movements from the voices. Case in point: the movie features three comic relief characters but never were they effective in eliciting laughter from the audience when I watched. Ironically, the only funny scene in the movie was from a normal person character who had a minute's worth of screen time (hint: the character was wearing some beauty cream in his 1 minute of fame).

I'm really rooting for Dayo. But relative to the animated movies produced all over the world, it pales in comparison. The country has a lot of talented and creative folks (as evidenced by the numerous animation companies and the amount of animation work being outsourced to the Philippines), and I know the local industry produce better features.

Rating: 2.5/5

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