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George At 

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The 1996 film adaption of the Broadway musical EVITA is a powerful film, with some heavy issues keeping it from being truly great.

The tale of Evita Duarte, a second rate actress with a hunger for upward mobility who climbs all the way to spouse of Juan Peron, the President of Argentina, its got rags to riches story telling, political drama and more than one love story.

Antonio Banderas steals the entire film as our narrator, who pops up throughout the film guiding us through the story. Banderas is a very talented singer. Tamara and I had the chance to see him on Broadway in "Nine" and we both agreed he had more stage presence and command than almost any actor we've ever been lucky enough to see live.

That same presence is here every time he's on screen.

Jonathan Pryce is also great as Peron, falling for Evita's charms and then respectfully getting out of her way when he sees that she's a huge asset to his own aspirations.

But the biggest casting liability is Madonna in the title role. She's in fine singing voice. She took months of classical voice lessons to prep for the role and it shows.

Her singing and movement is fine, very good even. She's got plenty of classic songs to wrap her voice around, including "Don't Cry For Me Argentina", "Another Suitcase In Another Hall" and "Buenos Aires".

It's her acting that drags the film down.

She's not Neil Diamond in "The Jazz Singer" bad. She doesn't embarrass herself. She just feels flat on screen compared to Banderas and Pryce, who blow her off the screen like a hurricane every time they are in the same frame.

Even Jimmy Nail as a lounge singer draws all your attention, when she's supposed to be the focus.

Credit Director Alan Parker (Pink Floyd's The Wall) for creating a great looking, huge budget historical spectacle and keeping things very stylized and interesting from the overture to the curtain.

Great music from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice with full, big budget and big sound orchestrations.

See it for Banderas and Pryce.

Listen to Madge sing but dont watch her act and you have a great film.

Alas, I kept my eyes open so EVITA gets a B-.

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