The last time an XX Ray movie was in the cinemas was back in 1995 when the sequel to the 1993 hit film XX Ray was released.
After a 24-year gap, fans of this local sci-fi flick from director/writer Aziz M. Osman can check out the third part to the instalment with XX-Ray III.
According to Aziz, he decided to make Part 3 after so long because fans kept asking him for a continuation.
“Also, I felt there weren’t any sci-fi films being made in Malaysia; the lack of this genre in our film industry was another factor prompting me to revive this series,” said the 56-year-old, whose previous credits include the films Baginda, Fantasi, Femina, Senario The Movie and Leftenan Adnan.
However, acquiring the budget for the film proved to be challenging.
Aziz first got the idea for XX Ray III in 2013. He filmed a teaser in 2016 in order to obtain funding for the film. He raised enough money to start shooting in 2017. However, the budget wasn’t enough to allow him to utilise the latest special effects.
“I cannot compete with Marvel films because they spend a lot of money on CGI,” said Aziz, who refused to reveal the final cost of XX Ray III.
The lack of funds didn’t deter him. Instead, Aziz focused more on the story line and character development.
“Just look at P. Ramlee’s film Laksamana Do Re Mi (1972) and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – which used basic special effect tricks but could stand the test of time. This is because the story is the most important thing to drive a film.
“I know I cannot compete with Hollywood sci-fi films, so my focus for XX Ray III is not the special effects but to come up with an original and relevant story,” he reiterated. “I am saying this to manage the fans’ expectation when watching this film.”
XX Ray III starts with an event in 1996 when Malaysia experienced a nationwide blackout. A wormhole had opened and an alien probe entered the atmosphere and sucked up all the energy from a power station in Terengganu.
Fortunately, an individual arrived at the scene and managed to close the wormhole before a bigger disaster struck the nation. However, the probe falls into the wrong hands.
Now two decades later, the probe is causing another phenomenon that is endangering Malaysia.
It is up to physic student Rayyan (Izzue Islam) and his equally smart pals (Adam John and Nonny Nadirah) to save the day … and you won’t believe the solution they come up with.
“The film has a simple message: We have to take care of our environment and not take it for granted. I believe that if we respect the environment, then it will take care of us,” explained Aziz, whose recent gig was directing TV series like Dia Bidadariku and My Darling, Inspektor Daniel in 2017.
Filmed in Melaka and Jordan in a span of 40 days, XX Ray III also features actors that have been missing from the screen of late including Saiful Apek, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan and Aziz himself.
Saiful shared: “I watched XX Ray and XX Ray II a long time ago and was a fan. It’s an honour to be part of this legacy and to be working with Aziz on XX Ray III.”
As for Jalaluddin, who has a minor but important role in the film, says he put his trust in Aziz.
“Aziz had his own vision where my character is concerned. So I took the opportunity to fully realise the character and bring it to life,” the actor said.
Fans of the XX Ray series can also look forward to a few Easter eggs Aziz has included in the movie, and a teaser at the end which the director says he would leave up to the fans to interpret.
“XX Ray III is a tribute to the fanboys. So the elements they will see in the film are those that are relatable to me and my work.
“I am not worried about how the fanboys are going to accept XX Ray III,” mentioned Aziz. “When George Lucas announced he is releasing Episode I: The Phantom Menace, I was excited and – although it got bad reviews – I loved it because I am a huge fan of the Star Wars films.
“It is the rest of the public that I am worried about,” continued Aziz.
At the same time, he is looking at the bright side of things. “I am hoping to make another film in the XX Ray universe if this one does well at the box-office.
“What I am trying to do is to put out a different film than what’s in the current market. I hope the audience can accept XX Ray III despite all its flaws.”
XX Ray III opens at GSC cinemas nationwide today.