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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Mira Nair
Cast:
Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Joe Anderson, Cherry Jones, Mia Wasikowska, Aaron Abrams
Writing Credits:
Ronald Bass, Anna Hamilton Phelan, Susan Butler (book, "East To The Dawn: The Life of Amelia Earhart"), Mary S. Lovell (book, "The Sound of Wings: The Life of Amelia Earhart")

Tagline:
Defying The Impossible. Living The Dream.

Synopsis:
Two-time Academy Award® Winner Hilary Swank delivers an unforgettable performance as Amelia Earhart, the legendary American aviatrix who boldly flew into the annals of history. Richard Gere co-stars as her charismatic business partner and adoring husband George Putnam. Bound by ambition and love, their enduring marriage could not be broken by Amelia's determination to fly - nor her passionate affair with Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor). Equal parts gripping drama, stirring romance and epic adventure, Amelia will take your breath away and send your spirit soaring!

Box Office:
Budget
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$3.904 million on 818 screens.
Domestic Gross
$14.241 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 111 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 2/2/2010

Bonus:
• “Making Amelia Featurette
• “The Power of Amelia Earhart” Featurette
• “The Plane Behind the Legend” Featurette
• “Re-Constructing the Planes of Amelia Earhart” Featurette
• Nine Deleted Scenes
• Seven Newsreels
• Digital Copy
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Amelia [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 15, 2010)

Though folks like to accuse Oscar of being predictable, I think the Academy manages a reasonable number of surprises. Every year we discover unheralded movies that earn award love, and we also find serious “Oscar-bait” flicks that get the golden cold shoulder.

In 2009, Amelia boasted definite “Oscar-bait” credentials. It told a historical biography – always an Academy favorite – and starred Hilary Swank, already a two-time Best Actress winner. Despite all that, the flick bombed at the box office and failed to reap a single Oscar nomination.

Which just goes to show: Oscar voters aren’t total suckers. Amelia tells us the story of noted aviatrix Amelia Earhart (Swank). Though interspersed with glimpses of her fateful 1937 attempt to fly around the world, the movie mostly tells a chronological tale that starts in 1928. Publisher George Putnam (Richard Gere) needs a female pilot to fly across the Atlantic so he can sell books about her. He recruits Earhart, though she bristles at one aspect of the trip: while she’ll be the plane’s commander, men will do the actual flying.

Earhart wants to pilot the plane herself, but when faced with a “take it or leave it” ultimatum from Putnam, she agrees to the journey. The successful flight makes her an overnight star and the face of female aviation. Earhart uses this position to advance the cause of women pilots, and she pushes the envelope with her own flights. Along the way, she and Putnam develop a romantic relationship, one that nearly gets derailed by a fling with fellow aviator Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor).

When Amelia came out, it received a lot of scathing reviews, so I expected the worst from it. While I don’t think it deserves to be regarded as a truly bad film, I certainly can’t muster any enthusiasm to defend it. Though it never turns into an embarrassment, Amelia fails to deliver a vivid, engaging portrait of its subject.

Probably the main problem here stems from the dull, simplistic nature of both the story and characters. Events and developments just kind of happen, and none of these elements ever present much real drama. We get mild bouts of tension during flight sequences that threaten to go awry, but nothing else manages to evoke emotions.

This becomes especially true for the monotonous glimpses of Earhart’s romantic life. Her feelings toward Putnam remain evasive. We sense real love there, but she also makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be tied down; when she eventually agrees to be his partner, she insists on some escape clauses.

Which she uses with Vidal, but don’t expect a crackling love triangle. Putnam receives little exposition, but Vidal is even less developed as a character. He exists mostly as a minor romantic interest and a slight cause of tension in the Earhart/Putnam relationship. However, he tends to come and go without much excitement, and his presence adds virtually nothing to the movie.

Frankly, I could’ve lived without any of the film’s romantic subplot. Had the film built the Earhart/Putnam relationship as “A Love for the Ages” or whatnot, then maybe that side of things would’ve deserved attention. While we do see love there, the movie presents the couple in such a bland way that no spark emerges. At no point do we invest in the relationship or the characters.

Amelia works a bit better when it focuses on Earhart’s high-flying exploits, but even there, it doesn’t soar. The film tends to come across as a “greatest hits” reel, and other than a running theme of Earhart’s love of adventure and freedom, it doesn’t explore her psyche in any way. She’s just a horse-faced chick who likes to fly – end of story.

Across the board, Amelia trumpets its mediocrity. Actually, the actors do fine in their parts, and Swank provides a typically solid performance. They’re not enough to overcome the movie’s general malaise, however, as it never gets off the ground.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C-

Amelia appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though usually excellent, the transfer fell a little short of true greatness.

For the most part, sharpness looked terrific. Many scenes exhibited stunning definition, and most were no worse than very good. However, a few slight bouts of softness occurred; these remained minor, but they slightly detracted from the otherwise terrific clarity. I noticed no jagged edges or shimmering. Edge haloes and print flaws also failed to appear.

Like most period movies of this sort, Amelia went with a fairly golden tone. It offered good color reproduction within the slight constraints of that tint, though, as the hues were always appealing and occasionally quite vivid. Blacks came across as deep and full, while shadows offered nice clarity. Despite some mild softness, this remained a strong presentation.

I also found a lot to like with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Amelia. The movie’s many airborne sequences allowed it to provide more pep than the average biopic. Scenes that involved planes demonstrated good movement and involvement, as the various elements filled out the spectrum well. Shots in the air also gave us environmental material like thunder, and those bits added a good sense of involvement as well.

The rest of the track was perfectly serviceable. When not in the air, the movie tended toward quiet character elements, so these didn’t have much to do. Music showed nice stereo presence, and general ambience seemed fine. However, the film only really came to life when it went into the air.

Audio quality worked well. Speech appeared natural and concise, and music offered nice range and clarity. Effects consistently sounded accurate and tight; the occasional loud scenes like thunder boasted good bass as well. While not a killer soundtrack, the audio of Amelia featured enough pizzazz to earn a "B+”.

When we head to the set’s extras, we start with four separate featurettes. Making Amelia runs 23 minutes, six seconds and includes notes from director Mira Nair, producer Lydia Dean Pilcher, 2nd unit director/aerial photography coordinator Marc Wolff, and actors Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Mia Wasikowska and Christopher Eccleston. They discuss the real Earhart, bringing her story to the screen, cast, characters and performances, locations, shooting the flying sequences, and Nair’s work as director.

With 23 minutes at its disposal, “Making” should offer something with reasonable depth. Unfortunately, it usually stays in the superficial promotional mode. We hear a lot about how great everything/everyone is but don’t learn much that really educates us about the production.

Next comes the 10-minute, 45-second The Power of Amelia Earhart. It features Nair, Pilcher, Swank, McGregor, production designer Stephanie Carroll, and costume designer Kasia Walicka-Maimone. It includes a few more reflections about Earhart as well as thoughts about production design and costumes. Like “Making”, “Power” includes a couple of decent notes, but it becomes too general and fluffy to offer much substance.

The Plane Behind the Legend lasts four minutes, 33 seconds and provides remarks from Nair, Pilcher, producer Kevin Hyman and Electra owner Bernard Chabbert. This show looks at Earhart’s plane and how the film got a stand-in for it. Despite the program’s length, it actually becomes more interesting than its predecessors – maybe not by a lot, but it reveals some decent notes about the aircraft.

Finally, Re-Constructing the Planes of Amelia Earhart goes for six minutes, 37 seconds and offers statements from visual consultant Paul Austerberry and aerial coordinator Cam Herrod. “Planes” acts as a companion to “Legend”. It shows how the production recreated many of the other aircraft used in the flick. It offers another short but reasonably engaging piece.

10 Deleted Scenes fill a total of 13 minutes, 53 seconds. We get a little more background on how Earhart came to Putnam, and we also meet some otherwise unseen characters: Amelia’s fiancé and Putnam’s wife. Though most deleted scenes deserved to be cut, I think these should’ve made the final film. They would’ve added some depth and drama to an otherwise superficial movie. Though they wouldn’t have saved it, they could’ve contributed to it.

Lastly, we locate seven examples of Movietone News. These run a total of six minutes, 41 seconds, and naturally all relate to Earhart in some way. These show shots of Earhart as she arrives after various flights and speaks at press conferences. We also get a little info about the search for her after she disappeared in 1937. These clips provide arguably the best extras on the disc, as they give us a brief but solid glimpse of the real Earhart.

Disc Two gives us a Digital Copy of Amelia. As always, this means you can slap the flick onto a computer or portable viewing thingy. Zip-zorp!

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Whip It and the American Film Institute. No trailer for Amelia appears here.

If you want to find a dynamic portrait of a pioneering aviator, you’ll need to look somewhere other than Amelia. The film offers a limp, generic take on Earhart’s life and career; it lacks almost any form of drama as it plods through its 111 minutes. The Blu-ray boasts very good picture and audio but comes with mediocre supplements. A bland examination of a legend, Amelia ends up as a missed opportunity.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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