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***FILM ONLY REVIEW***
Amelia Earhart is one of those names from history which instantly conjures up admiration, a sense of adventure and, of course, mystery. Yet despite knowing exactly who she was, I know very little about her. I know she and her navigator disappeared without trace in the thirties while attempting a circumnavigation of the world, but that, and a general understanding that she was a pioneer in aviation and for women, is all I know. There is much more to Amelia Earhart than her likely tragic ending, and so I settled down to watch the 2009 film Amelia.
Starring Hilary Swank in the title role, Richard Gere as her husband and publisher George Putnam, Ewan McGregor as rival love interest Gene Vidal and Christopher Eccleston as the doomed navigator Fred Noonan, this was an all star retelling of Earhart's story. We learn about her love of flying from a young age, and join her as she makes her first Atlantic crossing - as a passenger, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. The film takes in her adventures and all the "firsts" she did, as well as her personal life, ending with that mystery of what happened to her and Noonan.
Looking back on the film, what I like and dislike is that the focus is not on the mystery surrounding what happened to Earhart, but rather on her life, on the incredible things she achieved. That said, the ending tails off somewhat. There is no big moment or panic of "what happened to Amelia Earhart?". Rather we see it as it must have been seen at the time: communication problems lead to her losing contact, and then the sad realisation by those on the ground that she wasn't going to be coming in to land on Howland Island in the Pacific as planned. I liked the fact that the film tells her story, teaches us about what she achieved, rather than simply focussing on the sensationalist aspect of her disappearance and the numerous conspiracies to have come from it. But on the other hand, I would have liked to have seen a little of the search for her following her disappearance; at the time, it was the largest search operation ever to have been undertaken.
Knowing little about Earhart, I can't properly judge Swank's performance. However, there is something rather awkward and jarring about her throughout the film, and knowing Swank is a very capable actress although I have seen little of her work, I assume that this is true to life. It is made clear in the film that Earhart disliked public appearances and publicity, but realised it was a necessary evil in order to fulfil her flying dreams. Swank conveys this extremely well, and much of the awkwardness stems from this: Earhart does what she must to fund her work, but it isn't what she was best at.
As for the male characters, Richard Gere turns in a good performance as Putnam. While not endearing at the start of the film, he soon grows on you and you find yourself wanting things to work out for him, and for Earhart of course. While Ewan McGregor does as good a job as always, his role is somewhat underwhelming. Things often seem to be left unsaid, and we are left to work out the nature of the relationship between him and Earhart. However, that does suit with the tone of the film as a whole: a more aggressive character would not have blended with the subtlety of the storytelling. My favourite male character was Fred Noonan, and Eccleston does a great job of portraying him. He is completely believable as the master navigator with a drink problem - I've only really known him as Doctor Who, yet within seconds of his first appearance onscreen in Amelia I had forgotten this - I was entirely sold on his performance as Noonan.
Perhaps the best thing I can say about Amelia is that is has made me want to learn more about this incredible woman. I want to know more about her life and her accomplishments, and also about what happened after she went missing. The search, the theories on what happened, and the conclusion as to the most likely explanation for the disappearance of one of history's great women. Having had a quick glance at Wikipedia, possible human remains and artefacts were found on Nikumaroro Island in December 2010, which could support one theory of what happened to Earhart and Noonan - results are to be confirmed.
You may know the story, you may think there's no point watching Amelia because you know the ending, but it really is worth a watch. There is more to Amelia Earhart than the mystery of what happened to her!
The film Amelia tells the story of the life of Amelia Earhart the intrepid avaitor who put female pilots firmly on the map with her attempt to fly around the globe with her navigator Fred Noonan. At the time this would have seen her flying furtherthan any other individual making it anincredible feat in those relatively early days of flight.
In the film Hilary Swank plays the lead role and there is an impressive cast supporting her with Richard Gere as her husband and Ewan McGregor in the role of Gene Vidal a business man and love interest for Amelia.
This is an entertaining film and quite informative as prior to the film I was only aware of Earhart on a superficial level, i.e. that she was something to do with flying from the inter war years. After a shaky start the film is very enjoyable with some nice panoramic shots of the flying scenes and a good quality dialogue.
The acting is top notch and in particular Swank in the lead role delivers a convincing performance. She does a good job of getting over the the determination and strength of will that Earhart must have possessd to achieve what she did in a male dominated world.
It is quite an emotional film and quite gritty in places, visually it is rather spectacular and beautifully filmed once you get past some rather dodgy opening scenes.
Definitely a film worth checking out as it shows an interesting slice of history and is an entertaining film
Based on a true story, a non-fictitious, extraordinary story of an extraordinary woman who tried the impossible, starring Hillary Swank, yes, the Oscar season is here. But given the film's quality, chances of Swank scoring a nomination is looking very unlikely, unless there are no more decent performances from now until around December/January.
The film's incredibly unsubtle Oscar-baiting format is actually more irritating and anything else. The grand cinematography bombards the screen, (one of the MAJOR reasons why "Out of Africa" unjustly nabbed the Best Picture Oscar in 1986) Hillary Swank puts on a funny accent to imitate the flying legend, there's grand music to emphasise the great emotional challenge that Amelia Earheart had to go through. The film appears to be desperate to snatch up some awards by deluding the voters with its technical beauty and achievements, as it was never going to perform too successfully at the box-office. Sadly, the film will probably end up gaining neither.
What's so interesting about Amelia Earheart? I doubt the students at Imperial College actually know who Amelia is. She's a pilot who accomplished many avian techniques and broke many records as a woman, and also the one who mysteriously disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean whilst she was trying to complete her circum-navigational flight of the globe. To modern viewers, her disappearance is possibly the only interesting thing about her, most probably why she's actually "famous." Seriously, who cares if she was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic? Who cares if she was the first person to fly solo between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Oakland, California? Does anyone actually know about these titles that Earhart won?
Sure, the film is trying to inform us of the various awards and titles that she won but sadly, her accomplishments are the only things the film focuses on... that and the occasional shallow/light look at her love life with a publishing tycoon George Putnam (Richard Gere) and an aviation administrator Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). By focusing way too much on the dull, predictable romance and her extraordinary awards, the film feels more like a detailed documentary on Earhart's life, whilst never fully engaging the audience.
It's obvious to see why Swank was cast in this dismal biopic. She's an excellent actress, but more importantly, she does sort of look like the late legend. But even she can't salvage this messy script and direction. The narrative is repetitive and confused, and doesn't know whether it wants to be a doomed romance film or a dull biographical film that tries to squeeze in as many of Earhart's achievements in the shortest running time as possible. Either way, this project wasn't going to startle the viewers in any way.
"Amelia" is a lazy attempt to gain some Oscar love. Who knows? It may get some nominations. But I hope they're all in the technical department. The scenes involving old-looking, beautiful planes are definitely impressive, the period costume is always an Oscar favourite, and the score fits the adventurous style perfectly. The cast is fantastic, but looking at the film as a whole, it's a complete waste of talent. Swank, Gere and McGregor deserve so much better than this.
note: also appears on my film review website, TheFilmBlogger.com, thanks!
Hilary Swank is a great actress; her affecting performances in Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby both garnered her Academy Awards, while her co-star in Amelia, Richard Gere, won a Golden Globe for Chicago and is a thoroughly charming heartthrob-type. Despite this concoction, and Oscar-winning screenwriter (for Rain Man) Ron Bass penning the film, Amelia is a painfully routine and dull biopic that leisurely strolls through a remarkable woman's achievements without any flair or enthusiasm. Amelia is worse than a bad film: it is a disappointingly mediocre one.
And it is not the fault of the actors or the directors; Bass takes the sole blame in failing to come up with an interesting look at Amelia Earhart's life, and given that she was the first prominent female pilot and a huge icon for feminism, it is quite embarrassing for Bass that this happened. This is pure biopic formula, carefully travelling through Earhart's life with training wheels on, sure not to offend anyone and doubly sure not to allow the actors any room with which to express themselves. Although Swank and Gere are appealing, the slapdash script never ignites their chemistry as a couple, nor does it allow them to shine individually.
The film begins promisingly enough, though, with Earhart (Swank) meeting a publishing tycoon named George Putnam (Richard Gere), who quite honestly outlines the superficiality of his business, allowing Earhart the ability to become the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, as long as she is only a passenger, which Earhart is obviously none too fond of. Putnam plays a great PR game, and although she may not like his methods, he gains her considerable fame, which ultimately allows her to be the pilot that she wants to be, right down to her mysterious disappearance during her attempt to fly around the circumference of the world.
Indeed, there are some interesting flashes sprinkled throughout Amelia; when Earhart marries Putnam, for instance, she attests that she will love and honour her husband, but not obey him, but largely the film just lacks character, and feels far too packaged, and dare I say, Oscar baiting to resonate as convincing or genuine drama. It's a real shame, because the shell to this film is rather enticing: Mira Nair's direction features some gorgeous flight shots, and the production design is quite immaculate, with the costume department quite probably being nominated for an Oscar.
Swank and even possibly Gere, however, are cheated out of any sort of Oscar chances because of the down-right boring script; Swank is a hoot with the accent, the freckled appearance and the wacky hairstyle, but Bass never grants her the necessary space to inhabit her character, resulting in a profound lack of depth, making this Earhart appear quite aloof and wooden. The script works a little better in Gere's favour, allowing him a certain slyness that is no doubt attuned to his natural character and cultural representation, but again, there's just not enough to make these people seem alive.
This film is formulaic not only through being clean and cheerful like a television-produced biography, but also for the casual manner in which it blasts through Earhart's myriad achievements, beginning with a flight and then plastering a number of newspaper headlines that move off of the screen so fast that there's no time to read them. Every so often something with promise will happen, such as when she meets Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), an aviation administrator with whom she has an affair, but it's always dealt with in the most procedural, snooze-inducingly simple way possible. Even the film's climax, in which Amelia disappears, inspires its audience to feel little; she and radio control mishear each other a few times and poof - she's gone - and the audience is sadly never really asked to care.
Lacking sorely in not only the rich socio-political context of the time, but any probing insight into the woman herself, Amelia is a vapid shell and vastly underwhelming biopic that features great actors and a supposedly great screenwriter, but can't wrangle an interesting film out of it. One would expect a film like this to write itself, but sadly it hasn't, and Swank and Gere are left in the wilderness to try and work things out themselves; they leave unscathed, and in fact Nair does well with some gorgeous sweeping shots of the planes, but Bass is a total bust, and phones in a lazy, studio-friendly effort here. If you're marking your Oscar ballots, you'll want to mostly rub this one off for the most part.