Anyway, here’s the review. Let’s go over the good points first.
1. History. It was a historical film, and I’m a sucker for anything with a tinge of history. What’s more, it’s Philippine history jfc
2. Fantastic music score! My brother and I felt it was a bit LOTR, but it worked. Kudos to the composer and the orchestra! We stayed for the credits and Apl.de.ap's rap ending song was funny?
3. Cinematography was lovely. My bro, the film major, was practically squealing at every other take ahaha.
4. Joonee Gamboa as Felipe Buencamino. While I have no inkling as to who Felipe Buencamino is, just the fact that Joonee Gamboa graced this movie was enough for me, because I’m shallow like that. I gushed about him to a friend who had the gall to say that she didn’t know who Joonee Gamboa is. Cue ‘omg let me educate you’ speech and a dozen Youtube links sent her way. If you are a Filipino who grew up on the islands you have no business not knowing who he is ok, he is like our very own John Hurt, his voice melts bulletproof vests, I mean, if your documentary has Joonee Gamboa as narrator your documentary is best. Here, have a sample of him narrating National Geographic’s Inside Malacanang.
5. The little historical tidbits were fascinating, Antonio Luna was there, Jose Rizal was referenced once (not his execution), the Battle of Quingua was mentioned (oh oh i know an embarassing amount of stuff here for no reason at all), US Consul Spencer Pratt, Julian Felipe etc. I was happy with the who's who. That being said, see #4 at the negative section.
6. Thing I loved about the fight scenes was the research that went into them. Baron Geisler's character was a caricature, and I'm not sure if he's actually real, but his duelo with Aguinaldo stands out for me. You can see the difference in fight styles between the Spaniard and the Filipino - Baron was in typical fencing pose, one-handed with the other at his waist; Agui was employing espada y daga, a sword in one hand while the other parries/hold a dagger. I was fascinated. Loved the kali disarming fight scenes too, wow.
7. Apolinario Mabini was like the Machiavelli to Miong’s Medici, I guess.
Here come the not-so-good points:
1. Skewed portrayal. I get that it's about Aguinaldo and it's gonna take Agui's side, but dude, if you're looking for the truth, better read up on other sources because this movie is severely lacking. One thing that pissed me off though – Bonifacio was not a traitor, repeat, BONIFACIO WAS NOT A TRAITOR. Here is an excellent take-down by Jessica Zafra on this. I mean, wow, there is a reason why we have a Bonifacio Day and we don't have an Aguinaldo Day (except maybe in Cavite). The Supremo, the founder and leader of this freaking revolution, was not a traitor. Also, excuse you Mr. Daniel Tirona, Bonifacio may not have your credentials, but he was not uneducated. He read Voltaire in the original fucking French.
2. Antonio Luna (played by Christopher de Leon) was portrayed as a balimbing general who won no victories and killed people who can't pay revolutionary tax. He's your typical telenovela villain. While I don't discount these as untrue, what they failed to mention was that Luna was actually the army's real general, that he studied military tactics and guerilla warfare while in exile, that he had plans for a guerilla camp up in the highlands, as a last bastion against the Americans, because hey, the highlands have never been conquered, the Spanish tried and failed. Also, he was a published pharmacist who studied in Spain and won an award for a paper on malaria. He’s the other reason why I think the Luna men had both madness and genius in their blood (See Juan Luna, Filipino master painter, accused of killing of his wife and mother-in-law). (I mostly know these through my PI 100 (Rizal) class back in uni. Loved that class.)
( Cut for possible spoilers: prophesies, endings and decisions )
In conclusion, it was a fun movie, but just remember to take everything with a grain of salt, lest we oversimplify events and people and their motives. I’m no expert on the Philippine revolution; all I am is a leisurely reader with an interest in it, and I’m happy historical movies are finding a place in our theaters again.
In other news, almost everybody in the office has come down with a cold, and I hope my turn doesn't come. You'd think with my history I'd have developed a tolerance! Augh I don't want to be sick again!