14 January 2009 | jeremy-liebster-1
Atmospheric and well made but...
Nothing quite like getting your teeth into an epic is there? Sitting back and letting yourself get immersed into a struggle, a journey, in this case the Cuban revolution that has become such a cause celebre for many since the 1950s. By the time I left the cinema I sadly felt as though the epic had been squashed down into an easily swallowed period piece with all the epic grandeur of a Dan Brown novel. The problem with Che Part One is that it doesn't say anything particularly interesting or contain any memorable moments. There is lots and lots of shooting which is actually fairly sanitised (this is certainly no Saving Private Ryan), there is some mistreatment of people who are then avenged and there are lots of shots of Benicio del Toro looking quite idealistic and cool.
Don't get me wrong, there is nothing specifically wrong with this film. It portrays a fairly accurate (if, as I said, sanitised) picture of the March on Santa Clara and the victory of Castro's rebels. However much in the same way as the kind of perpetually running museum film that you can dip in and out of it is largely uninspiring and leaves you feeling quite detached. The problem is not the direction or the acting which does manage to transport you into the heart of a Civil War ravaged Cuba. It is the fact that we learn next to nothing about Cuba, Che himself or the goals of the revolutionaries. We learn nothing of why the Batista regime was so bad that people wanted to overthrow it. Which means that this simply stands alone as a war film where there are lots of explosions, lots of running around and some scenes of people celebrating in the streets. While I understand from reports that Che Part Two is rather different I think that nevertheless the slight blandness of Che Part One means that, though it looks good, it does feel like a rather wasted opportunity.