This year was the year local animated films showed their strength, especially in winning over local audiences.
One of it – Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal – is even vying for a nomination spot at next year's Oscar in the Best Animated Film category.
Though it's only set to open in Malaysia next month, The Garden Of Evening Mists, a joint Astro Shaw and HBO Asia production starring Malaysian actress Lee Sinje has already been making waves overseas. The movie, which is based on Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng's novel of the same title, was nominated for nine awards at last month's Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan, though it managed one win, in the Best Makeup and Costume Design category. Lee was nominated for Best Actress, but lost out to another Malaysian actress, Yeo Yann Yann, who won for her role in Singaporean film Wet Season.
On the local front, the cinemas were still flooded with Malaysian films that didn't stray far from the crowd-pleasing formula, but here are five titles that did venture beyond the norm and succeeded, albeit while keeping to a safe storytelling format.
Horror movies are usually automatic winners with Malaysian audiences. But what made Pusaka stand out even more was how it deftly integrates a police investigation with a supernatural element. And not just any supernatural element, but one that’s deeply connected to the old local practice of using demons to “protect” the family and to gain worldly wealth.
Besides some smart direction courtesy of Razaisyam Rashid (of the paranormal detective TV series Mandatori), Pusaka also boasts wonderful performances from its cast, especially leads Syafiq Kyle, Mimi Lana and Fauziah Ahmad Daud.
At last count, Pusaka earned RM12.8mil at the box office.
- Sweet Qismina on playing a possessed girl in Pusaka
- The cast of Pusaka recalls disturbing experiences on set of horror flick
Director Adrian Teh (of Paskal The Movie) goes full action mode with this one. It features sequences like we’ve never seen before in local film, thanks to innovative camerawork, special effects as well amazing action choreography by Indonesian action star Yayan Ruhian.
Even more refreshing, it’s a local movie that does not relegate female characters into stereotypical weaker roles. Both Fify Azmi and Ismi Melinda got to flex their action muscles, and be just as ferocious as their male counterparts (Hairul Azreen and Josiah Hogan).
Hidden within all the action too are issues of corruption, lack of moral and feudalistic patronage system that exist in our society.
Wira has collected RM7.5mil at the box office so far.
- 'Wira' review: Takes Malaysian action films to a higher level
- Fify Azmi goes from model to action star with 'Wira'
- Wira is like a Hollywood production, Indonesian action star Yayan Ruhian says
An ambitious project with a plot revolving around the titular twins who travel to a fantasy land populated by characters from local folklore. Fortunately, this ambition is backed up by fantastic animation, great character development and some entertaining sequences, all of which equal to highly watchable fare.
There is also a nice twist in the story that gives the film the extra push near the end. Keeping to the kampung-set theme, Keris Siamang Tunggal features familiar folks like Mat Jenin, Bawang Merah, Bawang Putih, Raja Bersiong and Nakhoda Ragam.
Keris Siamang Tunggal received much love from Malaysians, earning RM26.5mil at the box office.
- 'Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal' review: Delivers a fun outing
- Who are Upin and Ipin? Get to know Malaysia's favourite twins
- 'Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal' wins award in Beijing
- Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal is one of 32 films submitted for Best Animated Feature Oscar
Currently the No. 1 animated film in Malaysia with earnings of RM29.8mil at the box office at the time of writing, boasting excellent animation work as well as a strong story.
While BoBoiBoy Movie 2 is based on a character that first appeared in a TV series (and already had another movie before this), even someone who is not familiar with the character can jump straight into this movie and be entertained. Best of all, there are plenty of laughs to be had throughout its running time.
- Oh boy! BoBoiBoy is back with another movie this August
- 'BoBoiBoy Movie 2' is the new No. 1 animated feature in Malaysia
Just like the way the titular teen spy is unstoppable when completing a mission, this film has been unstoppable at the box-office, recording massive audience numbers since its release late last month.
The last time we checked, it had already earned RM25mil in just three weeks. Perhaps this has something to do with the quality of the animation featured in the film, the storyline which deals with some dark issues involving our small hero, and all the explosive action sequences.