Gundala

It's kind of easy to focus on Gundala's flaws, so let me open by saying I found the opening sequences really affecting: our hero Sancaka is orphaned and abandoned as a child, and writer/director Joko Anwar really nails the fear and helplessness of a homeless child; I had a bit of a wobble thinking about all the children in the world going through that for real.

I really, really wish that Gundala had stayed grounded like that even if it is about a guy who can shoot lightning out of his hands (and heck, even the childhood section largely features children kicking seven bells out of each other with martial arts) but it quickly starts to place all the stresses in the wrong places. Abimana Aryasatya is a charmingly out-of-his-depth lead who could just be discovering his powers in a nice simple "defending local workers" story (that would echo with his own tragic backstory) but for some absurd reason they juice it up with a wildly overcomplicated plot from a big bad: he's faked poison rice that would mean babies were "born without knowing the difference between right or wrong" (babies, then) so he can... distribute an antidote that instead... disfigures them? If you think about it for five seconds he could probably just have poisoned the rice, but maybe the director just really wanted us to watch about half an hour where the hero doesn't appear and instead legislators argue about whether to provide an untested antidote or not, including a long section where one character completely undermines the central concept of a objective moral viewpoint. It's extremely ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

It's not unsalvagable with sensible cuts (look, just go from "there's an antidote" to trucks arriving to distribute it, who cares) but of course while you're conspicuously NOT spending time with the hero, the film is also setting up future installment with two characters that also never interact with him.

Please. Do not do this. Do not set up things you don't pay off!

Again: with sensible cuts, you see these two characters unleashing the bigger bad in a single post-post-credits sequence. THAT'S ALL YOU NEED!

Gundala is two hours long when it could be an extremely sharp hour forty (if not less) and all the fixes are so obvious it's really hard not to be overall frustrated, because even with all this said, I did quite like it! There's even a fun mean joke at the end with some rich people who skipped the queue for the antidote.

Gundala's "improved" costume (seen in the post-credits sequence which should probably be pre-credits in an ideal cut?) is way less cool than his homemade one though, they should really take another run at that too honestly.

Mathew liked this review