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Giant croc steals the show from actors in ‘Bangis’

Crocodiles are commonly portrayed in movies and TV as villains and that's understandable, They're considered the third most dangerous animal in the world (next to snakes and scorpions) killing a reported 50,000 humans a year worldwide. The word also has negative connotations. Crocodile tears refer to fake expression of sympathy from an insincere person. In Tagalog, "buwaya" sometimes refers to corrupt lawmakers who prey on helpless citizens for their votes.

In TV5's "Bangis" based on Carlo J. Caparas' komiks serial, the title character is a humongous croc but he's no kontrabida at all. In fact, he's the best friend of a boy named Eboy (BJ Go) and is described in TV 5 publicity as "a giant but playful and gentle prehistoric creature that feels and thinks human." He even has speaking lines. Eboy refers to Bangis as his brother.

Most impressive

The gigantic reptile is the most impressive cast member, thanks to the wonders of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI). His image is believable and one actually believes that he is a real creature. The humans play secondary roles in this series and thanks to a predictable story line, none of them really creates a big impact on the small screen.

Oyo Sotto as Leon  plays the local version of Crocodile Dundee and the only conflict he has is tangling with Danita Paner as Maya who plays an environmentalist. He wants to rid Sitio Talim of the vicious croc who has already killed several villagers, including his parents. (Of course, Bangis didn't do it.) Danita strenuously objects and that's all she does when the two them see each other. Even  when Leon kills a huge anaconda who is strangling several people to death, she still scolds him. So far she hasn't done anything proactive to stop Leon from his mission. Eventually, the two will most likely settle their differences and fall in love.

The human villain in the series is Don Serpente played by Yul Servo, a rare assignment for Yul. He's usually cast as the oppressed, not the oppressor. Except for his name, there is nothing scary about Yul's portrayal of the owner of a crocodile farm. In fact many of the names in this series are associated with animals and their habitat. Serpente's sidekick is called Puma; the village wise man, Apo Danny Javier is named Wago; Serpente's wife, Wendy Valdez, is Savannah (Wild animals abound in African savannas). Other characters include Alamid, Musang, Katkat, Tiririt, Tweety, Falcon and Shepperd. Okay, I get it, the show is about animal rights.

Forgettable

The other characters are just as forgettable. Bayani Agbayani is the barangay chairman who tries to be funny but his jokes fall flat, thanks to his scriptwriters. Tessie Tomas, another comedian, plays a serious role this time as Mamma Mia, Leon's nanny. So far, all she's done is worry about Leon's condition in Sitio Talim. Well, male viewers can always be entertained by Savanna's favorite costume, a two-piece bathing suit.

It was the late W.C. Fields who said "Never work with children or animals" because they steal the show from adults. That's certainly true with Bangis. Ditto Niño Muhlach and Aiza Ceguerra, two of the lovable tykes who shone on the small and big screen. Child star BJ Go is no Niño Muhlach but his performance is acceptable. He was believable as he grieved over the loss of his parents.

Although the gargantuan croc is quite an achievement for the CGI bright boys, the character doesn't leave much room for many special effects. That's the advantage of doing super heroes because they can do all sorts of things like flying, dodging bullets, fancy fight sequences with different creatures,  etc.

My suggestion to the producers of this show, let's have more of Bangis and less of the humans. The croc was sorely missed Wednesday night.

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