The negative reaction rose swiftly when Victor Magtanggol started airing its teasers on GMA-7 at the start of July.
Netizens accused its writers of ripping off the story from Marvel’s popular Thor series, which stars Chris Hemsworth as a godly figure wielding a hammer to save the universe.
For this reason, the pilot episode of Victor Magtanggol had a lot to prove, not just to the critics but also to the countless fans of the Kapuso network that still gave it a chance.
So did the first episode meet the hype?
The answer is half and half. While Victor Magtanggol is ultimately clever and fun to watch, its reliance on cliched scenes and characterization pull it down.
Victor (Alden Richards) is a hardworking OFW who works as a handyman in a museum in Canada. His priority is his family.
In fact, he spends all his spare time looking for his estranged mom (Coney Reyes), who left them in Manila years ago.
All that will change when Victor gets entangled in the mystic of the strange artifacts in the museum. Is he the chosen one and can he wield these powers for good?
Victor Magtanggol captured this reviewer’s attention from the very first frame. The scenes were epic, an adaptation of the Norse mythology’s Ragnarok, the story of the fall of the gods.
Starting the pilot episode here is quite clever, because it quickly lays to rest the accusations that the show would be a direct copy of the Hollywood box-office hit.
Thor, old and gray, sacrifices himself to finally slay Loki in Asgard, the home of the gods. But before he perishes, he was able to send his hammer to Midgard, or the land of the humans, so it can be safe from Loki’s remaining evil minions.
These scenes are astounding because the production quality is at a high level. GMA-7 is usually excellent when it comes to the technical aspects of its fantasy programs. The CGI, cinematography, makeup and practical effects are almost always at a high quality.
Victor Magtanggol is no exception.
Thankfully, the episode still managed to be captivating after the effects-filled scenes. This is due to Alden who plays the titular character.
Alden immediately commands the screen from his first frame onwards. He has an easy-going, magnetic pull that makes you want to watch what he’s doing. He’s a charming actor and he can stand on his own terms, even away from the AlDub loveteam that catapulted him to the top.
It also helps that Alden is a competent actor, whether in the comedic or the dramatic scenes. His nicely choreographed fight scene was a joy to watch, too.
This Victor Magtanggol episode, however, wasn’t fully exceptional. It eventually showed cringe-worthy scenes near the end.
The scene was this: Victor was a waiter at a fund-raising party when he accidentally pushed Gwen (Janine Gutierrez).
Victor then saved Gwen from falling, and their eyes meet. A possible romance was implied.
That does not end there. Later on, Gwen gets chased by three men who supposedly intend to abuse her. Victor, the gentleman he is, comes to her rescue.
These scenes, in my opinion, lowered the quality of the full episode. Victor already had enough storylines on his plate: his mom is missing, he has a family in Manila to support, and he has to deal with a magical power. Why tack a romance to his list of worries?
The romance, moreover, does not feel organic. The scenes are stereotypes of any romantic movie there is, and Gwen does not feel like a fully realized character. And do Alden and Janine even have chemistry?
All in all, Victor Magtanggol has the potential to be considered among GMA-7’s list of phenomenal fantasy shows, because production quality is at a high level once again, and casting Alden is a good decision because he can carry a show. But it will only succeed if it avoids formula and hackneyed storylines.
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.