Review in a Hurry: Hilary Swank dons more than just a pilot's cap to become Amelia Earhart, legendary '30s aviator and folk hero. But in this careful and bland biopic, the two-time Oscar winner gets—like her latest doomed subject—lost the clouds.
The Bigger Picture: With Amelia, director Mira Nair gives us a version of the world-famous pilot's life that adds up to little more than a ho-hum love story—with some admittedly breathtaking aerial sequences.
In 1928, Earhart was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic—although as a passenger not a pilot. It was all a PR stunt concocted by book publisher and publicist George Putnam (Richard Gere), and a few years later, Amelia (married to Putnum) decides she must make the flight solo to prove it to herself and all aspiring women aviators.
Suddenly, she's more famous than Charles Lindberg and treated to all the sponsors that befit a modern-day celebrity. But here, we're treated to little more than generic montages and lots of '30s-style news reels. Lots and lots of newsreels.
Another problem most historical flicks can encounter is being too enamored with it's subject. Earhart has a minor scandal involving a tryst with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor), but a love triangle hardly taints her image—and here it feels strictly Lifetime.
On the plus side, having two-time Academy Award winner Swank as the famous aerial darling—who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937—ensured at least some level of craft. Despite a recognizable face and stature, she remains a chameleon of the silver screen. Never for a moment do we see Swank; she's always Earhart.
The 180—a Second Opinion: This is strictly a by-the-numbers historical flick, but every now and then Earhart takes to the sky and, for those all-too-brief interludes, Amelia soars.
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