Despite being one of the first films released this year, Che: Part One is already tipped as one of the films that will define 2009.
Many films are described as "epic", but at more than four hours long – so long it had to be split into two parts – acclaimed director Steven Soderbergh’s portrait of rebel Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara cannot be described as anything other than that.
Starring Benicio Del Toro as Guevara, so masterfully portrayed that his performance is already being touted as Oscar-winning, the biographical film chronicles his efforts, and that of a guerrilla army led by Fidel Castro, to overthrow the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship in Cuba.
Everything about this film is huge, from the amount of facial hair, to the tobacco smoke and the overwhelming Cuban countryside.
This first part sees the revolutionary poster boy’s modest entrance onto the world stage, from reaching the Cuban shore from Mexico in 1956 and, within two years, toppling Batista’s U.S-friendly regime to addressing the United Nations General Assembly.
Portraying the Argentine-born doctor-turned-revolutionary as a paternal figure, nursing wounded troops, helping them learn to read and write, and settling disputes, it attempts to show Guevara as more saint than sinner.
Part documentary, part feature, the Spanish-language movie is a sweeping biopic that teems with historical details about the guerrilla fighter’s intense life.
Part two is released on February 20.
STAR RATING: ****
REVOLUTIONARY: Benicio Del Toro, starring as "Che" Guevara in Che: Part One, is already being tipped for an Oscar.
THE SPIRIT (12A)
(All major cinemas)
FOLLOWING the lauded conversion of his own comic book series Sin City to the big screen, artist turned director Frank Miller adapts his mentor Will Eisner’s iconic graphic novel series The Spirit.
Starring Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson and Eva Mendes, the talented Gabrial Macht takes the lead as a rookie cop who returns from the beyond to fight crime.
Set in a futuristic metropolis called Central City, the stylish thriller pits a masked superhero called The Spirit against an array of clever villains.
The Spirit, the reconfigured body of murdered cop Denny Colt, hunts down villains to protect the populace, battling Samuel L Jackson’s out-of-control villain Octopus, his sultry sidekick Sliken Floss, played by Scarlett Johansson, and Eva Mendes’ seductive bad girl, Sand Seref.
Borrowing heavily from Miller’s previous efforts, 300 and Sin City, this two hour adventure believes it is better than it actually is.
It’s clichéd story line has entertaining moments but gets lost trying to be sly, sexy, heartfelt and clever all at once.
STAR RATING: **