After a short prelude and without much lingering, Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal goes into action mode with the titular characters running after the scaredy-cat chicken, Rembo, in a familiar setting, at Kampung Durian Runtuh.
The scene not only sets the pace for the rest of the film, but also defines the kind of animation the audience can expect in this feature film from Les’ Copaque Production.
The company has been making Upin & Ipin TV series since 2007, so it comes as no surprise that Upin and Ipin are as entertaining as ever on the big screen (with Asyiela Putri Azhar doing a fantastic job voicing both boys).
A pleasant surprise however, is the range of emotions one finds on the faces of the boys that may have been simplified for TV. This goes for some of the other main players in the show as well. The colour and details poured to the many backgrounds in the film are also pretty impressive.
The story of Keris Siamang Tunggal kicks off with Upin, Ipin and their friends finding a bladeless keris while cleaning Tok Dalang’s shed. After an incident with the keris, the youngsters are magically transported into a fantasyland named Inderaloka where they meet a guy named Mat Jenin. Yes, the same Mat Jenin in the Malay folk tale, who dreams big but achieves nothing. Upin and Ipin also meet other characters who are known to us, such as Pak Belalang, Nakhoda Ragam and Bawang Putih at Inderaloka.
As the friends go exploring in this kingdom, Upin and Ipin learn that they might have a connection with the keris and what is happening in Inderaloka, ruled by the cruel king Raja Bersiong.
Since Keris Siamang Tunggal is set in a make-believe land, the animators go the extra mile to create magical creatures and plants. One scene that stands out is when the boys meet Bawang Putih, as she sits on a swing underneath a beautiful tree, surrounded by water and animals that are not of this world. Frankly, there are many admirable elements to catch here.
Plot-wise too, Keris Siamang Tunggal keeps us interested mainly because we are curious about the connection between the keris and the twins, as well as how the adventure ends.
While we have seen characters from fairy tales populate a film in Hollywood features (Shrek is a prime example), it’s pleasant to see characters from folk tales in this region turn up here.
Their presence is weaved nicely with the world involving Upin, Ipin and their friends. Like any good animation feature too, there is a worthy message here.
However, the film falters when it comes to the voice cast and the audio.
Some of the actors providing voices for the supporting characters tend to overact … the actor voicing Mat Jenin is the biggest culprit, as well as the one voicing Raja Bersiong, who’s more theatrical than necessary.
Also, while we’re at it, why does Upin and Ipin’s friend, Jarjit have such a thick accent? Does any of the younger generation still talk like that in Malaysia, be it in a kampung or otherwise?
Which brings me to another frustrating point – the audio is just too loud when a lot of characters are in a scene talking on top of one another. Almost none of the dialogue can be heard clearly in scenes like this.
But this is a small matter, because whenever Upin and Ipin are on the big screen, they garner our attention.
And Keris Siamang Tunggal achieves what a good animation feature sets out to do – the audience gets to enjoy the wondrous world alongside the characters as they go on an adventure. Bravo!
Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal
Directors: Adam Amiruddin, Syed Nurfaiz Khalid Syed Ibrahim and Ahmad Razuri Roseli
Voice cast: Asyiela Putri Azhar, Ahmad Mawardi Abdul Rahman, Mohd Amir Asyraf, Fakhrul Razi, Ernie Zakri