Who is Garcia? That’s the question perplexing newspaper intern Antonia, played by Veki Velilla, in a six-part limited series to premiere in October on HBO Max. The first two episodes of this exciting addition to the television world premiered at the Fantastic Fest film festival in Austin, Texas.
Fantastic Fest, the largest genre film festival in the country, shows horror, fantasy, sci-fi, action, and unusual films that don’t necessarily fit into standard genres. The 2022 edition screened primarily at Austin’s iconic Alamo Drafthouse Theater – South Lamar. It also used online options and other venues to give fans more options.
¡García! melds sci-fi and action-adventure genres in a marvelously entertaining romp set in modern-day Spain. As I watched it, I got the feel of both James Bond and Indiana Jones adventures, even though the titular secret agent, played by Francisco Ortiz, doesn’t appear as much as the supporting character Antonia.
Antonia, her newspaper intern job and journalism career on the line, needs to come up with a big story. A presidential candidate, Catalina Bellido, “The Captain,” has disappeared, perhaps kidnapped. Her party blames the opposition party. Street battles between the groups begin. A mysterious package delivered to Antonia provides clues about the missing candidate and sets her off on an investigation that leads her to accidentally discover Garcia.
Garcia needed discovering because in the 1960s he was given superpowers by the Franco regime. Then, for reasons not revealed in the first two episodes, he is cryogenically frozen for 60 years in a secret underground lab.
A guy from the 1960s, dropped into 2022? The opportunities for situational humor abound, such as Garcia mistaking a cell phone for a transistor radio. That takes place moments before he uses his powers to crush it with one hand. He also mistakes Antonia, with her short hair and loose-fitting clothing, for a boy. He doesn’t crush her.
Not only did the audience at Fantastic Fest enjoy the action and humor, but mystery inhabited the screen as well. At the conclusion of the second episode there was a reveal that I’m sure nobody, including me, saw coming. It elicited audible gasps and exclamations from the audience.
After the screening, director Eugenio Mira answered questions for the Fantastic Fest audience.
Mira has a long connection with Fantastic Fest. At the first fest in 2005, his film The Birthday, on its way to cult status, won him the Best Director Award. The festival also chose his films for world premieres in 2010, Agnosia, and 2013, Grand Piano. The latter starred Elijah Wood and John Cusack
One question involved the origin of the story. Mira explained that the idea came from a 2014 graphic novel. He also hinted that he was hoping there would be a second season.
Another audience member asked Mira how he chose his actors for the series. He said, “I intentionally did not cast well-known actors, because I didn’t want to give the audience expectations about the story.”
My expectation is that if you like action/adventure with a dash of sci-fi, you will really enjoy this series.
You can watch HBO’s teaser for ¡García! below, and to get updates about future Fantastic Fest events and ways to view its films, check its website.