After last year’s surprise hit Manila Kingpin: The Asiong Salonga Story, Jeorge “ER” Estregan comes back for another round at the Metro Manila Film Festival. For this year, he goes with the historical drama from the perspective of Cavite hero Emilio Aguinaldo. 2003 MMFF Best Director Mark Meilly (Crying Ladies) wrote and directed the film which also stars Christopher de Leon, Cesar Montano, Cristine Reyes, and Nora Aunor among others.
The film basically follows the story of Emilio Aguinaldo way back to his early days as the town mayor of Cavite el Viejo until his final remaining days in bed. What transpired in between was a trip down history lessons. The details according to the director were based from My Memoirs written by Emilio Aguinaldo himself.
For one, the approach of the events were mostly linear except for the initial scene in the film. The rest follows the timeline which probably is the director’s aim in order to educate and not confuse the moviegoers. With that in mind, I still find the movie too long. 160 minutes is too much for a history recap that mostly just was a parade of the technical achievements of the people behind it…
…which leads me to say that yes, the technical achievements were actually good. The color palette used, despite being inconsistent (early morning scenes were too obviously blurry), but for the most part, they were a feast to the eyes. Production design was also commendable here. Though make up (especially that of the old woman) and the slow motion effects during war scenes were horribly bad.
I don’t know if it’s Aguinaldo in general or probably just how Estregan played him, but he comes off as very blah in the movie. Put into mind that this is his movie, and this will make you grasp for straws with its long screentime. Probably it’s the director’s approach all along? Who knows? But he certainly lack the appeal of a lead character, and Andres Bonifacio was more delightful to watch despite not being in the screen for a long time.
I was confused with the billing of the movie, though I guess they prioritized all the big stars in the poster for box office appeal. Cristine Reyes was a decoration to say the most (a beautiful one at that), and Christopher de Leon was memorable albeit appearing short here. Cesar Montano wasn’t in the last hour or so, but he brings a particular energy to his Bonifacio that I won’t be surprised if he gets awards notices for this one. Nora Aunor appeared only in the last 10 minutes of the film, so if you’re waiting for her, you can miss the first two hours and thirty minutes. I must say though that from the rest of the characters, Felix Roco ‘s Gregorio del Pilar and Sid Lucero were the two I enjoyed the most.
In entirety, the movie was just okay. I don’t know if that was good or bad, but it was that. Just okay. The technical achievements were mostly good to horribly bad, and the screentime is difficult to sit through, then you’d have a blah lead in it. But there are saving grace such as Cesar Montano’s Bonifacio. So I guess it was uneven to okay.
Here are the reviews of the other Metro Manila Film Festival 2012 entries:
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