Blu-Ray Spotlight: ‘Legend of Gatotkaca’
The Indonesian action film gives the Mahabharata the superhero treatment in this Hi-Yah! Original on physical media.
Well Go USA is releasing Hanung Bramantyo’s latest film, Legend of Gatotkaca or, Satria Dewa: Gatotkaca, onto DVD and Blu-Ray later this month. It’s an action-adventure epic that takes its cues from the giant superhero films of late, spinning Indonesian mythology from the Mahabharata into its core DNA. The film follows Satrio, a young man struggling to care for his troubled mother at home amidst losing his job. He stumbles into a world of good versus evil and battles with the implications that he is a descendant of the powerful Gatotkaca from the Pandawa/Pandava family, who have been fighting the forces of the Kurawa/Kaurava since the beginning of time.
Gatotkaca opens on the beginning of Satria’s legend, as he and his brother are raised in a small village by his mother. They are visited by Aswatama, there to recover an artifact that is said to be hidden there. The opening provides some fairly entertaining and shocking moments for its audience, since bad guys rarely play nice when they don’t get what they ask for. Or in this case, demand upon the threat of terrible violence. The film doesn’t explicitly say that the child in the beginning is Satria and it’s not a very well-kept secret if they meant to hide that fact. But the updated treatment of the Mahabharata’s characters and eternal struggles translate well for the film.
Legend of Gatotkaca looks fairly good on first glance, as Well Go USA’s discs are typically AVC encoded, which works to the benefit of this release. As is the case before, Gatotkaca is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Colors work better here than you’d expect on this disc, with darker & deeper purples and teals resonating through most of the picture. Reds particularly jump out in an attractive way, even during night scenes where saturation is normally an issue beyond the popular choice to simply mute them for color correction and timing. The film likes to apply different filters for different settings, so some unsavory choices are made here for the underground lair which give the feeling of a neglected subway restroom in its dirty nuclear lime green colors, which may be more a statement on the past-its-prime fluorescent lighting than the actual space our heroes occupy. But the colors coded with each character carry through with strong consistency to help you track what’s what and who’s who.
Well Go USA provides both the original Indonesian language track in stereo and 5.1 surround as well as an English dub for both options. It is worth nothing that in the credits for the film there seems to be a Dolby Atmos mix that exists, yet there isn’t an option for that on the disc here. Perhaps with Well Go USA’s relatively conservative 4K releases we could see a version that includes an Atmos track, but that depends entirely on sales for the existing Blu-Ray. But what we do have is very good, the sonics on the 5.1 mix provide a good sense of space, dialogue is clean & clear, and some effects for the film’s super-powered fighters is surprising in its intensity. There are optional English subtitles to accompany the Indonesian language tracks, but some translation issues do pop up from time to time.
The only special features present on this disc are the usual trailers for other Well Go USA titles. Curiously enough, the trailer for Gatotkaca is the only trailer not on the disc. The trailers auto-play on startup.
Because the film is so heavily indebted to modernizing its legends for a post-superhero film audience, Gatotkaca falls victim to some extreme cheesiness. For a good chunk of the runtime it feels as if we’re meant to be dead serious about all this, but eventually it does reach the point where it chooses to embrace its own silliness to create its own momentum. It happens perhaps too late for its own good as a standalone feature film, but viewers more familiar with media of the “capeshit” variety are also familiar with how the tone can struggle within the movie or television season as it tries to find footing.
Speaking of television, Gatotkaca is a closer pitch to something akin to The CW’s ArrowVerse in how shows within that universe can shift from the dramatic to the outright ridiculous. But the ArrowVerse (once it found its footing, mind) has figured out where to invest its darker and more intense moments and cash out its intentionally comedic moments at later points, making them feel more earned than placed due to patterns that test well. This isn’t the way for CW’s entire superhero slate, but rather it’s noticeable and noteworthy when it happens, and more importantly, when it works. Legend of Gatotkaca is still a fun time and definitely feels like the first piece in a developing series that can build into something potentially impressive.
Legend of Gatotkaca is available to pre-order now on Blu-Ray, DVD, and digital ahead of its official release date of Tuesday, March 21st, 2023.
Pre-order or purchase your copy here:
Disclaimer: Well Go USA has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.