Amelia would appear to be, on the surface at least, another biopic destined for award buzz. It isn’t. Instead, this aviation movie from director Mira Nair, based on the book East To The Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart by Susan Butler, is a shockingly boring and sadly conventional film. I’d use the cliché “paint-by-numbers,” but the word “paint” may lead to “vivid colors” leading into creativity and passion for which Amelia has none.
While movies should appear within the framework of historical accuracy, they shouldn’t be beholden to them, which Amelia clearly is. Unlike Scorsese’s The Aviator, Amelia is a stuffy throwback that may have come straight out of 1950’s Hollywood –an unusual move for the usually neon Nair. Unfortunately, a History Channel special on the American Industrial Revolution has more flare.
Famed pilot and social pioneer, Amelia Earhart is purported to be a larger than life personality with enough moxie to knock out Jack Dempsey. She ruffled feathers and sometimes even plucked them out. Yet Nair’s version of the figure is, well, a snoozer.
Two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank plays Earhart in a performance that’s eerily surface-y and limp. Scoring points for looking the part, her performance is purely accent and leather jackets. Swank’s Earhart never even approaches Amy Adam’s wall-busting, scene-stealing version in the comedy Night at the Museum 2: Battle of the Smithsonian.
For an awards season pic, the acting is clunky with two-dimensional lines like this gem from Richard Gere’s Earhart husband, George Putnam: “Only you my dear Amelia, could say those brutal words to me.”
Yet for the all bad dialogue and blandness of the movie, cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh captures some brilliant shots and uplifting images making Amelia, at the very least, a wonder to behold when muted.
Audio/Visual: Amelia is presented in 1080p with an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. As mentioned before, Stuart Dryburgh’s visuals in the film are amazing here.