Does GOYO: Ang Batang Heneral live up to all the hype?
In 2015, Jerrold Tarog directed a small historical film by the name of Heneral Luna. Within five weeks, the film broke even (AKA made thrice as much as its cost), despite it being one of the most expensive historical movies ever made for Philippine cinema. Critics loved it; viewers praised it.
Heneral Luna was funny, thought-provoking, well-produced, well-made, well-acted and spoke to an audience that was thirsty for its theme. It made our sad and yet often times over-glorified history something to question and revisit. It’s an understatement to say that the success of Heneral Luna had us excited for its follow-up, GOYO: Ang Batang Heneral.
GOYO is a look into the life of Gregorio del Pilar, known best for being one of the youngest generals during the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine-American War. He had his successes, but he had his faults, too. He was young, hailed as a womanizer and stubborn to boot. Rightfully, the film glorifies and critiques the Batang Heneral.
Like its predecessor, GOYO: Ang Batang Heneral is impeccably shot, with plenty of scenes you wish you could just photograph and hang up. The uniforms and the styling bring you back to a time you once only imagined, yet the themes are still incredibly relevant today. It helps that the film gives insight into the thoughts of different historical figures.
Paulo Avelino gives Gregorio del Pilar more depth as his infamous egotistic nature is subdued by self-doubt and actual fear. Meanwhile, we see Apolinario Mabini, played by Jeffrey Quizon, at an unseen low, yet still with enough hope and wisdom that could save the Philippines as a whole. There is also Mon Confiado’s Emilio Aguinaldo, who is both selfish and deceitful. And then there is Arron Villaflor’s Joven Hernando, the film’s main narrator—engaging, compelling and naive to a degree.
The acting is superb as each character shines in the right moments, delivering both serious and comedic lines with knockout timing. So much so that, even if you know the historical outcome, you’ll still be caught off guard when the inevitable happens.
But much like its titled character, GOYO: Ang Batang Heneral has its flaws, too. The pacing of the film could have been more heart-pumping and the character development could have left less to the imagination. The love story that was so pivotal could have been more fleshed out and, at the risk of getting a higher LTFRBC rating, del Pilar’s womanizing could have been more blatant. After all, didn’t Heneral Luna have less-clothing-more-nudity scenes as well?
And let’s face it, Paulo Avelino is a sight to see in uniform, but seeing that uniform discarded on a chair or on the floor would have been equally worthwhile.
At its core, however, GOYO delivers on its promises. The film is a historical piece that entertains as much as it provokes and makes its audience laugh as heartily as it makes them cringe, question and gasp.
GOYO: Ang Batang Heneral is now showing. Students get a discounted price of P150 in all cinemas; just bring a valid student ID.
Images via Facebook/GoyoAngBatangHeneral
Art Alexandra Lara