Amelia Review
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For more than 70 years, Amelia Earhart’s final flight has remained a mystery. Meanwhile, the world’s most famous female flier herself has become an icon—an inspiration for women and men alike. Hers is, presumably, a story of courage. Of determination. Of adventure. But you wouldn’t know it from watching director Mira Nair’s Amelia.

Amelia does touch on the story of world-famous aviatrix (played by two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank) and her life-long devotion to flying. From her first flight across the Atlantic to her mysterious last moments, it’s all in there. And it’s at those times when the film itself soars. The challenges, the trials, the fear of the unknown, the thrill of success—Amelia’s moments up in the air are beautiful and often exhilarating. Unfortunately, though, those moments aren’t as prevalent as you might expect.

The story of Earhart’s career is told in short snippets: a clip of a transatlantic flight here, an excerpt from her journal there, with some snippets of lectures and appearances and photo shoots thrown in. Though it’s all interesting stuff, there’s just too little of it. And the film flits around from one thing to the next, never really giving viewers the time to take it all in—or to get to know this fascinating character.

Instead, Amelia focuses on the love story between Earhart and publisher George Putnam (Richard Gere). Despite his undying love for her, she wanted to remain free—a “vagabond of the air,” as she called herself. Still, after refusing his proposals, she finally agreed to an open, conditional kind of marriage—one that would leave her available for an affair with flight instructor Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor).

While the story of Amelia and George’s marriage—and the triangle created by Gene—seems to be the focus of the film, though, even that part of the story doesn’t get a whole lot of development. Amelia and George’s relationship goes from business partners to something else with one quick kiss. Again, the story hops and skips along—from a hint of a hotel tryst to George’s first proposal and then on to marriage—giving merely a glimpse of the couple’s relationship. The same goes for Amelia’s relationship with Gene, which is developed mostly through hints and glances.

Through it all, we get to know very little about Earhart—her background, her motivation, her feelings. It’s surprisingly bland and distant, lacking in passion and emotion. And although Swank tries her best to bring something to the character, there’s just too little there to work with.

While Amelia seemed to promise high-flying adventures, an unfortunate shift of focus turned it into just another love story—and not even a good one at that. The flight scenes are too few, and the drama is dull and pointless. So if you’re interested in learning more about this fascinating figure, skip the movie and read a biography instead.

Blu-ray Review:
Amelia may not have the fascinating character development—or as much of the stunning cinematography—that I expected. But, fortunately, there’s more to discover on the Blu-ray’s special features menu.

The two-disc release of Amelia (which includes a digital copy of the film) offers a bit more insight into Amelia Earhart’s life—and (better yet) follows her on more of her journeys. The 10 deleted scenes more fully explore the characters and their backgrounds. The section even includes a deleted storyline, featuring Virginia Madsen as George’s wife. It also features more footage of Amelia’s plane in flight—and a few more scenes of the stops along Amelia’s final journey.

The disc also includes a making-of feature, as well as two additional behind-the-scenes features on the various planes used in the film. And, finally, there are also seven clips from actual news reels that report on Amelia’s various exploits. Though the quality is (understandably) not always the best, and they tend to end rather abruptly, these short clips of archive footage are well worth a few extra minutes of your time.

While the film itself is disappointingly detached, the extras provide more history, more insight, and more gorgeous flight footage. So if you do choose to give Amelia a try, be sure to browse through the special features menu when you’re finished.

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