|Action, Science Fiction
Flare Studios, Spacetoon Media Hub
May 17, 2012
Release length: 1:28:00 (US)
The story follows a teenager named Azman (Tomok Shah Indrawan). He is a bit of an outcast among his school peers. He’s a computer expert, and a pro in a mech-based video game. Eventually he is sent the device known as MAN – Transformable Exo-Robotic Armour, or Mantera for short. Everyone assumes its something he won from the game he plays, as well as his love interest Deena (Shikin Kamal) who happens to be a robotics expert. It turns out to have been a stolen prototype from Weston Technologies, which the owner, Sam Weston (Mikhail Dorohjkin), was to turn over to the investor. This happens to be the leader of the group called Legion. Now everyone is after Azman after he activates the suit upon rebuilding it, putting himself in the middle of a battle between good and evil.
Mantera is clearly trying to capture the spirit of animes like Gundam and sentai shows like Kamen Rider, and it does a decent enough job at emulating both. However, the English version is actually missing thirty minutes of material, leaving huge gaps in the tale that seem to span days, possibly even weeks. It also appears like some of the story is out of order. It makes sense for the most part, but there’s clearly a lot of character and story development omitted and arranged poorly. Even some of the battle scenes seem cut down, including the omission of the entire ending.
Yes, this movie lacks the final battle and closure. After meeting with Dr. Natasya (Kamaliya) and Kolonel Ayman (Wael Al-Masri), Azman is put into a battle with some of the Legion’s robots. The battle really isn’t much, and neither is some of the martial arts outside of this later fight. It’s mostly a lot of talking and a few short bursts of computer generated robot combat. Once the final foe is dispatched, it cuts to reveal the face of the Legion leader, demanding all the robots be dispatched to take Azman out and, well, that’s it. Roll credits.
It’s almost immediately that you can pick up on a lot of these alterations in the story, but that’s not where it ends. The English version is dubbed, but for the most part. In the beginning there are some subtitles with the original voice track in another language. Once the credits roll, all the characters now speak English clearly done in a studio somewhere. Even some of the on screen text like internet articles are English, which had to be post-release editing for this version of the film. But the most annoying aspect in most of the people doing the voice overs. Rarely do they sync up with the emotion on display, and even sound lifeless most of the time. It also has your standard Hollywood grade music scores and a few off-timed effects like a cell phone ringing after a character acknowledges it happened. It’s also frustrating that nearly every called Azman “Assman” like the bullies do early on throughout the whole film.
There’s also the obvious use of film grain effects. Mantera was shot in 2012, leaving you expecting a rather sleek looking digital production. Instead it looks like the movie was torn out of the eighties. This wouldn’t be too bad since it starts like an espionage filled version of Guyver. Sadly the deeper you go, it’s clear there was a heavy film grain added, which is obvious when you compare the trailer for the original release against the English language version. This causes the computer effects to look alright in some spots, and completely outdated in others. It’s as if you’re looking at something put together by the graphics team for the television cartoon series Reboot.
If you really feel the need to check out Mantera, you’re better off finding the original Malaysian version, or looking for some kind of subtitled version somewhere, though both of these can be hard to come by on-line. A generic story, god awful audio dubs and voice acting, think pointless film grain that holds back the already kind of outdated computer graphics, and removal of the ending in general annihilates any reason to even bother watching this edition of the movie unless you want to see how low distribution companies or other territories consider the attention span of at least the North American audiences since the English language version that is making its rounds on many digital streaming sites is an incomplete waste of time.
|Overall Score: 2/10