REVIEW: Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo captures spirit of Pinoy game

Mention the word patintero to today's techy generation, and you'll probably get "huh?" and "duh?" depending on the millennial’s background.

The game now lives only in the memory of parents and grandparents. But like all games, it tests one’s speed: of mind and body.

Unlike today's computer games, however, patintero needs streets--the wider the better--on which to draw those rectangles that form the playing field.

Chalk, swift legs, arms--the longer, the better--are required.

Two teams try to get past the rectangles ahead of the other and reach the other end without any of the members getting tagged. The one who gets tagged by members of the rival team is disqualified from the game. The goal, therefore, is to remain in the game and reach the other end of the lines first.

This Pinoy game is the centerpoint of director Mihk Vergara's brave new film, Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo, which moviegoers first saw in the 2015 QCinema Film Fertival.

Produced by TBA (Tuko Films, Buchi Boy Entertainment and Artikulo Uno Productions), Patintero captures the spirit of the traditional Filipino game by telling the story of feisty Meng Francisco (Nafa Hilario Cruz), who heads Team Patalo in the patintero-crazy neighborhood of Barangay San Jose.

As the name implies, the team, which started out with two other members--Nicay and Swifty--always loses. Things suddenly change when the masked Z-Boy (Claude Adrales), who calls himself the defender of the downtrodden, joins the team.

With victory in sight, Meng gets hooked on winning. And life is never the same again.

The pace of the film is as fast as the young players' legs take them. Animation and a few throwbacks to Marvel Comics and its superhero themes add to the scenes' appeal.

The director, Mihk Vergara, is obviously a nostalgia fan. He brings back the days when superheroes such as Z-Boy were flesh and blood crusaders in colorful caped costumes and masks, not digital images marching across computer screens.

But the film is not just about a long-lost game and reading fare displayed in proud collectors’ glass-encased cabinets. It's a nod to assertive, outspoken girls who stand up to boys bigger and older than them.

It's a tribute to paying the price for one's sins, respect for elders (Suzette Ranillo as Lola Sang spices up the scenes with her quirks and words of wisdom), teamwork and lasting friendship.

The young actors-- the stars of the film-- show intensity and depth surprising for people their age. Nafa's eyes blaze with a don't-mess-with-me look one moment, and fill with tears the next.

Her fellow young co-actors Isabel "Lenlen" Frial, William Buenavente and Adrales also show steely determination with eyes that seem to pierce your soul.

Lola Sang reminds you of a favorite older person or guardian who raised you up to be strong and secure while mom and dad are away, busy putting food on the table.

Endearing as they are, some of the characters need to be developed a bit more to move the story along better. Z-Boy's real identity, for instance, still needs to be established since he plays a pivotal role in the Patalo Team's journey. Yes, super heroes usually keep their identity under wraps, but it would be nice to know if he lives in Barangay San Jose like his friends do, or was a loser himself and hence, feels so much for the oppressed.

It would have been better if Meng didn't slap her Lola Sang at the back so hard to make her stop coughing. While the coughing did stop, it made Meng look less than the loving granddaughter that she is. Keeping the Lola's cigarettes out of her reach would have been a better way of showing Meng’s love and respect for grandma.

However, these are not reasons to keep moviegoers from trooping to the theaters starting Wednesday, October 5, when Patintero opens in Philippine cinemas.

The film won the Audience Choice and Gender Sensitivity awards in QCinema 2015.

Patintero may just give young people an alternative to those addictive computer games that limit interaction with others and make them lead a sedentary life all the way up to adulthood.

Their elders can relive those good old days when outdoor fun made childhood a joy.

Best of all, young people and their elders can bond in the movie house and discuss the film’s pluses and minuses when they get home.

How’s that for bridging the generation gap?

Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo will have its red carpet premiere this Saturday, October 1, at SM Megamall.

Ed's Note: The "PEP Review" section carries the views of individual reviewers, and does not necessarily reflect the views of the PEP editorial staff.






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