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Darna The Return

Darna Ang Pagbabalik ~ I’m a big fan of Mars Ravelo’s comics work and his sometimes brilliant pantheon of Filipino superheroes. I love me some Captain Barbell, Lastikman and Darna. But much like film versions of American superheroes, their Filipino cousins have hit and miss success. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re not. Case in point – Darna Ang Pagbabalik, or as translated to English, “Darna The Return.”

For those not in the know, Darna is basically the Wonder Woman of the Phillipines, but not enough to create litigation. She was bestowed power from the gods, given a magic stone to transform into her super-identity, and has other powers like heat vision, telekinesis, and telepathy, that keep her out of court even though she also frequently plays ‘bullets and bracelets’ like a certain Amazon Princess. She’s been around since 1950 in comics, movies and television.

Darna Ang Pagbabalik is pretty traditional superhero fare, if a bit campy. Darna fights crime, loses her magic stone, and romances her leading man, while her snake-haired archenemy Valentina tries to take over the nation via evangelist television. The beautiful and athletic Anjanette Abayari is more than suitable in the title role and Pilita Corrales is very creepy doing “V” imitations with mice as the heavy. The special effects are pretty cheap for the mid-1990s but about on par with the CBS Marvel telemovies of the late 1970s.

If you don’t mind subtitles and some hokey special effects and dialogue, this isn’t a bad flick for superhero fanboys and girls. However I would recommend the 2000 versions of Captain Barbell and Lastikman if you’re looking for a proper introduction to these wonderful Mars Ravelo characters.

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