I actually really enjoyed this film, but I'm trying to be objective - hence the 3 stars. I wanted to give 3.5 but couldn't come round to giving 4...
So first I should explain my review title.
Well this "film" actually comes in 2 parts, and pressumably was first shown on TV on 2 seperate days because there are credits half way through (end of disk 1). In total it is 3 1/2 hours long, but simply making a film long does not make it an automatic epic. Lawrence of Arabia is long enough to make Ron Jeremy jealous, and actually is epic. Whereas this film, despite its length, is just good.
The start of this film gave me a bit of an embarrassed feeling - like, oh dear, why did I think this was going to be worth watching? Victor Huggo Martin (playing Fidel Castro) gives an uncertain performance in his first major scene of the film, but throughout the heart of the film becomes quite a convincing character. Gael Garcia Bernal (playing Che Guevara) doesn't feature until well into the guts of the film, and has a relatively small role compared to the lead, but what he does he does well and it's not surprising the marketting team chose to put his name first on the film cover.
The film claims to stay true to the real story of Fidel, using artistic license when necessary, and I truely felt I was learning a lot by watching the film. It was ever so slightly like watching one of those documentary films they show in schools, a feeling exemplified by the fact that it comes in 2 parts.
I felt genuinely strong emotions through the film, which altered as the story plotted its course through Fidel's life. I admired, envied, hated and pitied the main character as the 3 1/2 hours passed - a real testament to the films dedication to giving an unbiased account of events. At the end of the film I was left wondering what motives were behind the production, as no motives at all seemed to be apparent.
Despite only giving 3 stars, I would recommend this film to anybody interested in learning more about Fidel and Che without having to open a book. But somehow the film seems so intent on being factual that it makes little extra effort to draw people deeply and emotionally into it. The lives of those involved are so fascinating that Hollywood style story telling wasn't required, but all the same it just seems to be lacking somehow.