Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Could have been so much better
on 13 January 2010
Unfortunately I watched part 2 of the film before part 1, for various reasons. Part 2 was good (if a bit long) but it only concentrated on the Bolivian struggle, which was a short period at the end of Che's life. I then bought the reasonably priced 2-pack from Amazon, because I assumed part 1 would be mind-blowing. Why did I assume this? Well, because Del Toro is brilliant as Che, because I love Cuba, and I found the revolution very interesting.
So why only 3 stars then? Well, here goes: Part 1 seems bizarrely pieced together. It jumps about a bit at first. Then we're on the boat to Cuba, but then it jumps to what happened several days after the landing. Nothing about the landing of the boat in Cuba, and the cock-up that ensued. Straight into the mountains and preparing for guerilla war. Many small bits of fairly unexceptional dialogue etc. which is fair enough but why omit the landing and then leave in unimportant stuff?
Then we moved through the revolutionary struggle and things flow a bit better. The battle in Santa Clara is well covered (and the locations, mainly in Puerto Rico, are very convincing). Batista flees, the revolutionaries win, and the film ends on the march to Havana. But why end there?
Why no scenes in Havana? Why no exploration of the post-victory days and the cracks that undoubtedly emerged between the leaders of the revolution? These were very interesting times completely omitted. Part 2 covers the Bolivian struggle, which happened several years later - and it happened over a very short period, so it's strange that film 2 didn't find time to cover other things like his time in government, his (possible) friction with Fidel, Camilo Cienfuegos' strange disappearance just a day after refusing to follow Fidel's orders, travel to Angola, etc. This was all omitted and the only thing we get from this period is some faux-newsreel footage of Che at the United Nations.
The acting throughout is exemplary (Del Toro is great and both Camilo and Fidel are played brilliantly too), but the editing was a little clunky for my taste and the decisions to ignore the landing and the years in Havana are totally bizarre. I would think that anyone unfamiliar with the revolution would be a bit baffled by film 1, and that people who ARE well read on the matter would find it a bit, well... unfinished, unresolved. This will probably be the best ever film made about Che, but it could have been so much better.
So, ........ close but no (Havana) cigar.