FILM REVIEW: DARNA AT DING

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The Plot: The movie started on how Narda got her power as Darna. As soon as Narda transformed into Darna, she quickly started her adventure with Ding fighting the Hawk Woman. And soon after Darna and Ding found a giant and both lost the fight to Darna. As the story unfold Dr. Vontesberg pretended as a good samaritan with an evil plan to destroy the towns people who killed her grandfather mistakenly accused as a devil worshipper. Dr. Vontesberg summoned the dead and terrorized the townspeople. Narda was captured by the mad Dr. Vontesberg and showed her how she operates her plans. Ding got on time to rescue her helpless sister and they both stopped Vontesberg evil plans. Then, Darna and Ding flew their way to the city. And on their way, they captured a bunch of loose prisoners, after this scene was a long lots of talking non-action scenes. Finally, Lei Ming and Darna measured their strength and powers. Lei Ming created an evil Darna to destroy the real Darna. At the end Lei Ming lose and took her own life. – Super Heroes Lives (READ MORE)

The Reviews: “…On it’s 11th year of presenting Asian cinema to Czech audiences, 2015 FilmAsia, the Czech Republic’s premier Asian film festival, is putting Filipino cinema in focus for the first time. Initiated by Czech Embassy in Manila, in cooperation with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), this year’s FilmAsia premieres six Filipino feature films, old and new. Among the films brought to Prague are the recently rediscovered and restored classic Genghis Khan (1950) directed by Manuel Conde which opened the festival on Dec. 4, and the acclaimed political family drama Dekada ’70 (2002) based on the novel by Lualhati Bautista, a film which mirrors the similar experience of the Czechs, who were also fighting for their democracy in the 1970s and 1980s while under communist rule. “As only a single Philippine film, The King of Sulu and the Emperor of China by Eddie Romero, ever entered the Czech film distribution [system] as long as a quarter a century ago, and not more than a dozen, often independent, films have been screened at Czech film festivals in recent years, this very first Philippine selection will be a unique glimpse into otherwise unknown cinematography in my country,” said Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr. The core of the Philippine focus are three independent Filipino films namely Lihis (2013), Sonata (2013), and Badil (2013), all co-produced by the FDCP. And to give the Czech audiences a glimpse of Philippine superhero films, the iconic Philippine superheroine will get the opportunity to fly over Prague with the Czech premier of Darna, starring Vilma Santos. “As the only Asian film festival in the Czech Republic, FilmAsia offers Czechs a glimpse of the best of what Asian cinema can offer,” said Karla Stojáková, the festival´s director and producer who has a long history of cooperation with Asian filmmakers. “Therefore I was happy to share the idea of Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, Jr. to present Filipino cinematography for the very first time in our country. Our festival is entering second decade this year and so it is symbolic and oportunity for our film enthusiasts to discover another Asian cinematography.” In previous years, FilmAsia has featured award-winning works by notable directors in the Asian region, among them Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Hou Hsia-hsien, Johnnie To, Wong Kar-wai, Tsai Ming-liang, and Takashi Miike…” – Interaksyon, 07 December 2015 (READ MORE)

“…On it’s 11th year of presenting Asian cinema to Czech audiences, 2015 FilmAsia, the Czech Republic’s premier Asian film festival, is putting Filipino cinema in focus for the first time. Initiated by Czech Embassy in Manila, in cooperation with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), this year’s FilmAsia premieres six Filipino feature films, old and new. Among the films brought to Prague are the recently rediscovered and restored classic Genghis Khan (1950) directed by Manuel Conde which opened the festival on Dec. 4, and the acclaimed political family drama Dekada ’70 (2002) based on the novel by Lualhati Bautista, a film which mirrors the similar experience of the Czechs, who were also fighting for their democracy in the 1970s and 1980s while under communist rule. “As only a single Philippine film, The King of Sulu and the Emperor of China by Eddie Romero, ever entered the Czech film distribution [system] as long as a quarter a century ago, and not more than a dozen, often independent, films have been screened at Czech film festivals in recent years, this very first Philippine selection will be a unique glimpse into otherwise unknown cinematography in my country,” said Czech Ambassador to the Philippines Jaroslav Olša, Jr. The core of the Philippine focus are three independent Filipino films namely Lihis (2013), Sonata (2013), and Badil (2013), all co-produced by the FDCP. And to give the Czech audiences a glimpse of Philippine superhero films, the iconic Philippine superheroine will get the opportunity to fly over Prague with the Czech premier of Darna, starring Vilma Santos. “As the only Asian film festival in the Czech Republic, FilmAsia offers Czechs a glimpse of the best of what Asian cinema can offer,” said Karla Stojáková, the festival´s director and producer who has a long history of cooperation with Asian filmmakers. “Therefore I was happy to share the idea of Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, Jr. to present Filipino cinematography for the very first time in our country. Our festival is entering second decade this year and so it is symbolic and oportunity for our film enthusiasts to discover another Asian cinematography.” In previous years, FilmAsia has featured award-winning works by notable directors in the Asian region, among them Park Chan-wook, Kim Ki-duk, Hou Hsia-hsien, Johnnie To, Wong Kar-wai, Tsai Ming-liang, and Takashi Miike…” – Interaksyon, 07 December 2015 (READ MORE)

“Darna at Ding, Vilma’s fourth and final portrayal of Darna, takes her to another wild adventure, this time with her younger brother Ding. When a mysterious stone falls into the hands of Narda, she finds out that the stone is an amulet that gives her super power. This is the start of the many adventures of Darna, that have her battling with the evil sorceress Lei Ming and Hawk Woman. A whole new adventure with the popular Philippine heroine, Darna at Ding is another classic worth watching.” – UP (READ MORE)

“…The famous child actress Vilma Santos grew up as a beautiful young star and was able to maintain popularity from the ’70’s up to the present. Her title “Star for all Seasons” fits her well because among her contemporaries, she is the only one who stays on top. She can choose the roles that she wants, and is still deluge with movie offers complete with top billing and huge talent fee, that even the likes of Claudine or Judy Ann can only hope for. And why not? She is the Queen! And she deserves nothing less! She is considered the Box Office Queen of all time. Blessings continued to pour for Vilma, from film awards to public service recognitions. She is also the only actor to have crossed over from showbiz to politics and was graded satisfactorily. And like what Mar Garces, our famous house writed said, “you ain’t see nothing yet, the best is yet to come.” What do they have in common (Vilma and Nino)? They are both considered as among the richest celebrities in local industry. In wrapping up, we can say that Nino started as a child wonder & ended up as a successful businessman; he is now accepting small roles. Vilma Santos on the other hand, continues to shine her star and is considered as the longest reigning Queenstar of all time. To you Darna at Ding.” – Franco Gabriel, V Magazine Issue No. 5 (READ MORE)

“…produced by D’ Wonder Films Vilma Santos donned her Darna costume for the last time in 1980 with Darna at Ding. For the first time, Ding was mentioned in the title. And why not? The kid was now played by Niño Muhlach, the most popular child star of the day. The company that produced it, D’Wonder films, belonged to the Muhlach’s family. The Wonder films tried to captured the magic of 1973 monster hit “Lipad, Darna, Lipad.” By recasting some of the original cast of Vilma’s first Darna movie. Celia Rodriguez declined to play Valentina, instead they tailored a new character for her as Lei Ming the sorceress. Then Veronica Jones was asked to play Valentina but, ended up playing the role of Hawk Woman. Max Alvarado reprised his role as the Giant. Marissa Delgado also joined the cast as Dr. Vontesberg. The movie started on how Narda got her power as Darna. As soon as Narda transformed into Darna, she quickly started her adventure with Ding fighting the Hawk Woman. And soon after Darna and Ding found a giant and both lost the fight to Darna. As the story unfold Dr. Vontesberg pretended as a good samaritan with an evil plan to destroy the towns people who killed her grandfather mistakenly accused as a devil worshipper. Dr. Vontesberg summoned the dead and terrorized the townspeople. Narda was captured by the mad Dr. Vontesberg and showed her how she operates her plans. Ding got on time to rescue her helpless sister and they both stopped Vontesberg evil plans. Then, Darna and Ding flew their way to the city. And on their way, they captured a bunch of loose prisoners, after this scene was a long lots of talking non-action scenes. Finally, Lei Ming and Darna measured their strength and powers. Lei Ming created an evil Darna to destroy the real Darna. At the end Lei Ming lose and took her own life. Vilma finally relinquished the role of Darna to Sharon Cuneta, who appeared in a cameo role as Darna, in 1986’s Captain Barbel, also a Mars Ravelo classic creation. Years after, Dawn Zulueta was rumored to play Darna but the role of our beloved superheroine went to Nanette Medved who would have preferred to play Valentina…” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)

“…The climax of this “Darna vs. the Dragon Lady” part of Darna At Ding sees Lei Ming conjure up an evil double of Darna to keep our heroine busy while, elsewhere in her lair, a towering robot bears menacingly down upon Ding. It’s a suitably whiz-bang finale to this loopy, kitchen sink confection, and one that makes the long, strange and circuitous route that we’ve taken to get to it seem perhaps less arduous in retrospect. Still, at a solid two hours, Darna At Ding is an example of a movie that pulls out all the stops, but perhaps shouldn’t have. While it’s combination of horror movie chills, superhero thrills and slapstick spills might have been catnip for the Filipino audience of its day, for the rest of us it might prove mildly exhausting. Nonetheless, I find Vilma Santos so appealing in her role that it’s hard for me to imagine hating any Darna movie that she appears in, and this one’s no exception.” – Todd Stadtman of “luchadiaries” (READ MORE)

“…Darna at Ding is a bit of a mess, even by nonsensical low-budget fantasy standards. The tone is incredibly inconsistent, ranging from broad slapstick comedy [as seen in a Benny Hill inspired speed-up sequence showing townspeople running from zombies], spooky horror [Ding nearly killed by voodoo], and violent action. The segue between the two wildly disparate plots, in which Darna must fend off a truck load of escaped convicts, seems particularly off key with its graphic Peckinpah-esque slow motion shotgun blast and neck-snapping conclusion. Children’s fare this certainly isn’t, though it plays as such for a good chunk of its two hour running time. Frequent shifts in tone and random outbursts of comedy/horror/violence I can deal with, but the sluggish plots really bog Darna at Ding down. The first narrative, in particular, just seems to drag on and on, with various groups of locals running into zombies, getting scared, and running away over and over again. I, for one, could have done with a lot less of that and a lot more of Darna kicking escaped convict ass. And there I think is the film’s biggest flaw – there’s just not nearly enough of Darna in it. She appears at the beginning, middle, and end for a few minutes each and in highly enjoyable setups, but the remaining four fifths of the film is left to languish in entertainment limbo without her.

That’s not to say that there aren’t fun moments to be had in this twelfth Darna outing – quite the contrary. The opening is fantastically absurd [I really dig those forced perspective giant effects], as is the Darna-versus-Darna battle that serves as the climax. But for every moment of overt glee there are twenty or so more in which nothing happens at all. It’s a pity, really, as the potential for entertainment is certainly there, but remains woefully un-tapped. From a production standpoint Darna at Ding was better than I anticipated, and there was obviously at least a little money put behind it. Special effects were about as good as I expected, and work well enough without becoming entirely embarrassing. The cast is quite good too, paltry as the material they have to work with is. Vilma Santos is always a pleasure to have on screen, and Nino Mulhach never becomes tiresome or annoying as Ding. The giant who sees such little action is familiar as well – Max Alvarado, who would go on to play Columbus, one of the multitude of villains in for y’ur height only. The soundtrack is groovy but of dubious legality. I recognized much of what was played, but could only pin down Pink Floyd’s Time for certain…” – Kevin Pyrtle, WTF-FILM (READ MORE)

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