After all the hype and the debates about Victor Magtanggol, including a lengthy lecture on Norse Mythology by one TJ Dimacali and even a sheepish admission of minimal reading of the actual myths by the writer in said discussion, it would be a mortal sin for us to not at least give the show a chance and watch its first week. And that week was… uneven, to say the least.
Here are 8 random observations we noted from the first week of Victor Magtanggol, for better or worse. We can only hope that the show finds its footing over time, because if this is how they expect to keep things going, it would be such a waste of the talents of its cast.
Uneven casting choices
They made great choices with who to cast as Thor and Magni, but the guy playing Modi? Not so much. John Estrada seems to work as Loki so far, and is clearly taking the villain in a different direction than Tom Hiddleston did, which is a great move. Still, it seems every other non-Filipino actor not named Thor or Magni just looks bad in all of this.
The Verdict On Casting: +8. You did the right thing with your lead stars, so we can forgive the missteps with everyone else.
Ease up on the not-so-special effects
We don’t expect Marvel films quality from a daily show produced in the Philippines, but we’ve always been good with practical effects in the past. Clearly, using obviously fake CGI is easier on a schedule, but maybe using it sparingly would result in less of an eyesore? Then again, it seems most of local TV’s fans are happy with the quality of “special” effects, so this might be just them playing to type.
The Verdict On Effects: -8. If you dialed it back and used your budget for really good scenes where CGI is absolutely essential, maybe it would come across better? You have strong enough acting to more than make up for it, which leads us to…
Solid acting all around
Compared to Ruru Madrid, Alden Richards is a masterclass in thespianship. Alden has chemistry with Janine Gutierrez, who also played Ruru Madrid’s girlfriend during the start of Sherlock, Jr., so we can clearly see the difference for ourselves. The supporting cast is also great. What good things can we say about Coney Reyes on camera (wink) that hasn’t already been said? Al Tantay? Chynna Ortaleza? Dion Ignacio? Come on. There’s a reason these people are part of the cast, and it shows in their tour de force natural acting.
The Verdict On Acting: +8. You have great actors who can do drama and light comedy with ease at the drop of a hat. Alden’s charismatic performance goes beyond just acting cute and goofy, although yes, it’s hard to buy a guy who looks like him speaking in somewhat broken English, but stranger things have happened, like Richard Gutierrez trying to play a janitor.
Walking stereotypes still abound
Apparently, Victor’s sister, Anne, played by Lindsay De Vera, is a cosplayer. How can we tell?
Here. Have a clue.
Because she wears a colored wig. All. The. Time. So does this mean this guy is also cosplaying?!?
At least he seems to have red hair, which the mythological Thor is well-known for.
If that’s literally your only way to show someone is a “cosplayer,” the fact that Modi and some of the other Norse gods are clearly wearing wigs puts that whole concept into question. And with John Estrada’s Loki chewing up the scenery and clearly putting on a terrible villain voice while he’s at it, maybe the “new” direction this Loki is headed in isn’t so hot at all, seeing as he’s turning into yet another mustache-twirling villain with no motivation except evil for its own sake. Shockingly, Modi, in destroying his fellow gods in hopes of ascending to the throne left by Odin upon his death, seems to be the most well-rounded villain we have on offer so far.
The Verdict On Stereotypes: -8. Victor Magtanggol still doesn’t know how to handle well-motivated villains (because Modi can’t act), nor can they show something about a character without feeling the necessity to tell, much in the way that Anne’s being a cosplayer is solely defined by her wearing a wig at all times, and even sleeping in it, which any actual cosplayer would tell you is the dumbest idea ever.
C’mon. They haven’t showed up in significant form since the first episode. How can you not be happy about that? I get they’re supposed to be comic relief, but why am I more relieved when I don’t see them onscreen?
The Verdict On Ex-Batallion: +8. Because they hardly ever show up. If they end up being there more, I’d reconsider this.
The actual fantasy
The Philippines being a primarily Judeo-Christian country notwithstanding, seeing Diana Zubiri as Freya does work, even if she looked like she was wearing a variation of her Encantadia outfit. Nonetheless, the fantasy setting doesn’t work nearly as well as the straight-up drama, which makes you consider that maybe Alden should do period pieces instead of high fantasy if they wanted to really showcase him.
The Verdict On Mythology: -8. Plus points for trying to incorporate some of their own twists on Norse mythology, but taking it as a fact while ignoring our own mythology seems like a missed opportunity, because if the Norse gods are real, who’s to say the Greek pantheon or Bathala isn’t a thing, either? And why is this going down in frigging Canada, of all places?
The action so far
As far as the action scenes go, they’re by far better-choreographed than anything we’ve seen from, say, Alyas Robin Hood, but that’s not saying much. It comes across more as laziness than anything else to see CGI blood in key action scenes, especially when, again, the Philippines has a history of doing great practical effects to make up for a lack of technology for top-of-the-line special effects. The action looks cheap when you see the obvious fakery. Still, it’s a step up from GMA’s previous game, except for Ika-6 Na Utos. Vince McMahon wished his fights looked half as real as Ika-6 Na Utos.
The Verdict On Action: +8. Alden Richards tossing a regular hammer like a pro near the start of the first episode was a highlight, even if the resident tambays picking a fight with him for no reason while he was in pursuit of a snatcher was a bit much.
Victor took a full week before becoming Hammerman
Yes, you can stop snickering, that’s Victor’s secret identity, eventually.
With us dreading the fantasy segments and cheering on the actual slice-of-life, almost Koreanovela-ic stylings of Alden Richards, it seems like keeping him as far away from Hammerman as possible is actually the right thing to do. But who’s to say that the first week has clued in GMA on any last-minute changes they have to make to make this work? Clearly, they have a huge fanbase that won’t care however bad the show is, as long as Alden, but how’s about attracting new viewers instead of struggling to just keep the ones you currently have?
And on a side note, why do all the bad guy foreigners in Victor Magtanggol vaguely look and sound alike?!?
The Verdict On The Future: -8. Sorry, but with the track record of the last two years of Alyas Robinhood, Sirkus, The Cure, and especially Sherlock Jr., we can’t really be too optimistic for Hammerman. We’re optimistic for normal boy next-door Victor Magtanggol and his quest to reunite his family, but superhero Hammerman and the cringe a name like that induces in us by instinct? Not so much. One can only hope Alden still shines through despite all of the baggage, but we can only be cautiously hopeful about it, at best.
Did we miss anything? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!