2SSFA - 'V1K1' by Tzang Mervyn Tong

What is a ‘techno fairytale’? Just a fairytale with sci-fi touch or a does it aim to be something that relates to the future world that we are going to inherit? I’d like to think it’s both – that’s it is an visual exploration as well as a something that echoes modern sensibilities and carries a pertinent message. Can ‘Avatar’ be considered a techno-fairytale? Possibly, even though some of the visual influences seem prehistoric. VIK1 can certainly be what it claims to be – a techno fairytale. It ‘s got the full motley bunch of alien-like characters, dramatic sound effects, bursts of stardusts around the characters and man vs ‘natural order’ moralistic slant to the story to make it complete.

Director Tzang Mervyn Tong breaks another new ground with sci-fi in this one. The film reflects his closeness to the genre, a knack for special effects (given the limited budgets), a seasoned director’s eye and even some occasional punches of humour. However, from the rather purist opening to this review, you might smell a whiff of skepticism to towards the film somewhere. While the film is very conscientiously put-together, what was presented would have worked better as a book. After the initial visual pyrotechnics (literally), the film slips into long bouts of preachy dialogue that dilutes the very confident visual build-up right from the delightfully suspenseful opening credits. The actors in this film certainly had a heavy burden to bear, trying to sustain the prolonged conversation about mankind and the ecosystem. Just as trying were some of the costumes! Given the demands of the content and the relative inexperience of the actors, director Mervyn could have done himself a favour with some cutaways and even relied on the power of the unspoken and hence, our interpolation. Too much had been explained.

It is a formidable task applying the sci-fi genre to the Singapore context without looking too much like SBC’s Channel 8’s sci-fi attempts in the 1980s. The Singapore landscape just does not provide an ambience that inspires and Tzang has actually done a tremendous job with preventing it from falling into a huge B-Grade trap, all things considered. Having said that, watch out for the ‘kitchen sieve-like’ round antennas of the master alien! Not that affects the overall viewing.

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