Gundala [Indonesian Movie Review]

Director: Joko Anwar

Scriptwriter: Joko Anwar, Harya Suraminata

Genre: Action, Drama

Runtime: 2 hours 3 minute

At last, the iconic Indonesian hero strikes his lightning to the big screen with decent special effects and solid storytelling.

Why It’s Worth Watching

Although Gundala isn’t the first Indonesian superhero movie that comes to the big screen, the enthusiasm it receives is undoubtedly exceeded its predecessors.

With the care of the veteran filmmaker Joko Anwar, the pivotal hero story is crafted with the astounding action, in-depth cinematography, and meticulous adventure of Sancaka aka Gundala. It also delivers as the opening arc of Bumilangit Cinematic Universe, hoping to follow the success of MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe).

A Brief Look of Indonesian Superheroes Flick

The truth is, bringing a superhero (either it’s from comic adaption or a fresh concept) to the big screen is not something new in the local industry. Even though the number isn’t that great, there were some superhuman protagonists that made it to the cinema, before Gundala in August 2019.

Most of those films didn’t have enough recognition they went into the oblivion as this kind of theme doesn’t have a solid audience in the first place.

It’s not without the reason, the era of Indonesian superheroes began losing their charm near the year of 2004. Up until that time, local television was filled with many superheroes series, such as Saras 008Gerhana, and Panji Manusia Millenium. Afterward, most of the television programs are heavily grounded with comedy and soap opera. 

Aside from the TV series, only few Indonesian filmmakers wanted to produce superhero movies. Many were skeptical about it. It’s just a big no-no. Garuda Superheroes (2015) which directed by X-Jo proved its failure.

Then what makes Gundala so different? It might be because of Joko Anwar who took the challenge. The seasoned director’s decision for producing and releasing Gundala comes at the same moment superhero movies in Hollywood sell like hot cakes. 

He even makes the bold move by replicating MCU with his version of Bumilangit Cinematic Universe which timeline is enlisted by the superhero roster from 60′ to 90′. It is undeniably an interesting idea that immediately accepted by Indonesian audiences.

Gundala is not the only superhero movie that receives great appreciation from his people. A year before, Fox International Productions laid its eye to the local phenomenal hero Wiro Sableng and produce it alongside Lifelike Pictures. 

This film in fact opened Indonesian moviegoers’ realization: there are still filmmakers who willing to give their best into creating a decent superhero movies that worth to be watched. It is somehow becomes the transition of something grand a year after, and likely years that follow.

Gundala Movie Image 1

The Superbly Packed Classical Hero

Gundala Deemed Right

Gundala genuinely shows a life journey of a boy named Sancaka (Muzakki Ramdhan) and how brutally harsh his childhood is. His father passed away when he joined the demonstration to preserve his rights as a laborer. His mother then went out of the city to make a living and never came back. 

There was even one specific scene of him eating foods that have just fallen to the ground and it brings a sympathetic feeling as Sancaka realized that he has to live on his own. Later on, viewers will be shown on his struggle living in the street toward his slightly better life as an adult (Abimana Aryasatya).

The introduction of the protagonist’s life is quite different than its origin. Both the comic and the first film in 1981 depicts Sancaka as a scientist who attempted to create an anti-lightning serum that can repel its user from electric current.

He then was struck by lightning and found himself before the ruler of the lightning kingdom, Kaisar Kronz. The lightning lord raised him as his child and gave him superpowers.

Joko Anwar alternates the background of Sancaka and it stills gives the proper deliverance to the protagonist development. By changing him from a genius scientist to a security guard, it somehow conveniently turns him into a more earthly and humble figure.

Moreover, taking away the fact that Gundala encounters and receives his power from the lightning lord (added to that he strangely makes the anti-lightning serum) feels just right. It avoids the film from being too unrealistic and becoming too cheesy.

Gundala Movie Image 2

Glorious Opponent

Picking out Pengkor as the main villain in Gundala was really a good call. Since this film acts as the opening of the upcoming universe, a lowkey character like him suits it better rather than a devil-like superpowered villain. His play with terror instead of superhuman ability is on par with Gundala who just finds out his power.

Pengkor who operates his scheme behind the shadow and his capability to screw up the whole nation shows himself as a formidable enemy. His level-headed and intimidating complexion, adding his unusual background, does justice to the film. Thanks to Bront Palarae who perfectly delivered the scarred face character.

Excellent Action Balanced with Great Shot

It can be said that Gundala pulls it off by receiving a lot of positive feedback from moviegoers. Joko Anwar’s careful attention in producing the iconic film deserves two thumbs as it truly offers a classy experience and takes Indonesian superhero movies to another level.

The two years process of creating Gundala shows that the film wasn’t taken half-heartedly. Joko Anwar even cooperated with eleven vendors to manage the CGI effect and makes Gundala become the first domestic film ever installed Dolby Atmos technology

Certainly, the result exhibited in the film doesn’t rival with high-quality production performed by Marvel or DC film. There are some flaws that can be easily spotted by the naked eyes; the deliverance of the conflict is sort of shallow; those two wholly different scenes taking place at the same railroad crossing make the sets dull and less-rich. 

The combats, however, are fun and interesting with the flowing choreography and special effect that moderately enhances the fight scene. The shots taken within are mesmerizing too and fit the dark, gloomy theme instilled in Gundala.

For those who want to take a break from Hollywood superheroes but still find it fancy to dive into the genre, Gundala worths the try.

Gundala Movie Image 3


“Gak ada gunanya hidup kalau gak peduli dan cuman mikirin diri sendiri.”

“No point in living without caring about others or only think of yourself.”


Rating: 3 out of 5.

A rising standard of Indonesian superheroes movie filled with enjoyable battles, a gripping story, and beautiful sets for the action-lover.

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