To date, there are about nine animated features from Malaysia and I have seen four of them. I usually post each movie entries individually but some of these films doesn't even have trailers... so I thought I should combine them and below are the reviews for the movies!
At a glance: Putih (2001) is the third animated feature originated from Malaysia. Directed by Rashid Sibir, it is based on a popular Nusantara folklore entitled "Bawang Merah dan Bawang Putih". The story has been compared with Cinderella due to similarities in several aspects; cruel step mother and step sister, animal friends, morals, royal husband and death of biological parents.
Synopsis: Putih (2001) follows the hardships and life of a kind hearted girl named Putih. With her mother, they are ill-treated and bullied into servitude after her father's death by her stepmother and stepsister, Merah.
Genre: Drama, Family
Review: Putih (2001) is shockingly good due to its intense scenes and moral values. They have strong voice casts and the animation is not bad too. However, it is a disturbing depiction of how cruel an individual can be; resulting the torture involved in the family being much more intense than the surplus plot involving a kingdom's war. In short, Putih (2001) is a great piece if you want to watch Malay/Indonesian culture. There are several parts that I do not like such as the prince and the war that appears towards the end but overall, it is an interesting animated movie that you ought not to miss!
Budak Lapok (2007)
At a glance: Budak Lapok (2007) is a comedy drama film directed by Anwardi Jamil. The fourth animated feature from Malaysia, it is based on the P. Ramlee's films, Bujang Lapok.
Synopsis: Budak Lapok (2007) follows the lives of best friends Ramlee, Aziz, Sudin in a village called Kampung Sebatang Pinang. Set to compete in an intervillage football contest, they also wanted to impress three girls so they participated in a drama contest. Not knowing that both of these contests fall on the same date, what would they do?
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Family
Review: Through this animated feature, we can observe the fictionalised, daily lives of the Malaysian villagers and the characters' antics are comical. In addition to all the silly and funny scenes, Budak Lapok (2007) has a lot of references and parodies to folk tales and popular movies. However, there are some stereotypes present in this animated feature and the animation is not that great. The voice of the characters seems to be not in sync with the uncommon mouth movements sometimes but still acceptable as they are simple. In brief, it can be hilarious and entertaining if you love to watch Malay comedy drama! Probably the best animated feature originated from Malaysia. (Out of the four I have seen)
Geng: The Adventure Begins (2009)
At a glance: Geng: The Adventure Begins (2009) is an adventure family film directed by Nizam Razak. It is the first 3D and most commercially successful animated feature in Malaysia at its release. The characters Upin & Ipin was originally a side project of this animated feature but it becomes such a hit that it spawned eight seasons of animated shorts to date.
Synopsis: The peaceful Kampong Durian Runtuh is suddenly disturbed by a fearsome beast that lurks at night. However, no one dares to find out what it is until Badrol, Lim and their newfound friends stumble upon the very heart of the mystery. A small, peculiar otherworldly animal befriends Rajoo and brings the whole gang on an adventure deep into the exotic Malaysian rainforest filled with dangerous animals, including an age-old mystical giant snake.
Genre: Adventure, Family
Review: Despite its unusual adventure, it is sad to mention that Geng: The Adventure Begins (2009) is a mess. Its animation is not that great but it is still acceptable.Unfortunately, what's annoying is that some of the characters are high pitched, terrible at accents or just bad voice acting in general. The mouth movements are also not entirely in sync with the characters' voice, presenting most of the voice casts at their worst. Fortunately, the animated feature is generally much loved by its intended audience. There are indeed some ridiculous moments that are funny and a variety of characters that can be lovable but since there are too much elements, they can be weird or even be a major turn off. In brief, Geng: The Adventure Begins (2009) is an interesting adventure and I did find some of the farm animals adorable but not the supernatural ones. I like how they incorporate animals but this one does feel inferior when compared to some of the older Malaysian animated feature in some aspects.
War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012)
At a glance: War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012) is a sci-fi steampunk animated feature directed by Joe Pearson. It is based on English novel "The War of the Worlds" by H. G. Wells.
Synopsis: In 1899, the Earth was attacked by ruthless invaders from the planet Mars. The Martian's 80 ft tall, heat-ray spewing, Tripod battle machines laid waste to the planet, but the invaders ultimately fell prey to Earth's tiny bacteria.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, War
Review: War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012) is visually pretty but storytelling wise, it is absolutely boring. If it wasn't the awesome concept from the novel and the effort on visuals, this one honestly might end up being the second animated feature I'd rate 1 star. But I rated it 5 stars anyway, as some of you might like it for whatever reasons.When compared to all older Malaysian animated features, War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012) does has a nice feel to it but the plot is unfortunately quite bad. There are so many illogical scenes that are left unexplained or unfinished even until the end. The backstory? Certainly without much thought as it is not clear or even established in the animated feature itself. I understand alien invasion and steampunk are interesting but the series of random elements and events here won't make it a great storytelling or an enjoyable, at least for me even though it is the prettiest Malaysian animated film out of the four.
I gave 7 stars to Putih (2001) & Budak Lapok (2007) and 5 stars to Geng: The Adventure Begins (2009) & War of the Worlds: Goliath (2012).
That's all for now and I hope you enjoyed reading this post!