I’m not sure if people are inclined to see things differently, or if someone just thought Amelia needed to be made anyway, but rarely does a movie come along that has more going against it from a business perspective. You know the ending, there are few people interested these days, and (look, we have to face facts business-wise) it’s about a notoriously unattractive woman who is played by… Hilary Swank. Moreover, it’s directed by Mira Nair, and you don’t know who she is. If the movie hit theaters virtually unnoticed and unmentioned, is it any surprise?
While the deck may be stacked against ticket sales, and this is just the sort of movie that critics love to tell you is brilliant, it never actually tries very hard to move away from a strictly niche market. Though the film is wonderful to look at, and the performances are rather engaging, the movie never takes that extra step away from something almost documentary in nature, by answering the question, “Yes, but why am I watching it?”
You either have an answer for that question yourself, or you don’t, and the film doesn’t care which it is.
If you’re interested to see a movie about Amelia’s life, know everything that’s going to happen, but want to see the movie version of it anyway, then boy is this the movie for you. Swank is as good as ever, and the strange, but touching moments of the life are brought to screen wonderfully. A few scenes of mishaps are overdone a bit, but overall this is exactly what you, tiny niche audience that you are, hoped to see.
On the other hand, if you don’t fall into that market, it’s hard to know how to convince you to bother. It’s one of those movies that really tears away at a movie critic’s abilities, because about all you can find yourself thinking is – if you think that there’s any chance you’ll like this movie, then you’ll love it, but if you don’t… you’re right.
It’s historically interesting, obviously, and the facts are fairly well represented, but the truth is that we have here a legend who does not suffer familiarity all that well. She’s a better legend when left to the mystery of not knowing all that much about her. Her romantic life, which is played up pretty well in the film (because rules are rules), doesn’t help things on that score either. Eventually giving in and marrying George Putnam (Richard Gere), based on a kind of, “Fine… whatever,” theory of accepting a proposal, Amelia doesn’t exactly give audiences much to grab onto once they learn about her. Sure, she broke a lot of records whilst flying rickety planes in death-defying ways, but this is just to say that she was crazy, and what’s that really get you at the end of the day? Well, see, we sort of know don’t we?
A role model for decades, Amelia been a light for women who dare to dream of impossible things, and given the timing, she stood out as the proof that women could be larger-than-life as well. This film captures that spirit, and that persona exists, but the real person may not be quite as amazing, or as entertaining as you’d think, and the film’s tagline – “A love without limits. A life without fear.” – can actually go a few different ways, and you might want to think about it.
The DVD release is well stocked, and for the most part really reflect the attitude of the film itself. That is, it seems to be simply going for relating the story without concern for who wants to know the story. The bonuses are more of the same.
Making Amelia is a 23-minute featurette that is just what you think, but with the spin of that borderline documentary feel. For those who find themselves falling in love with this film, this is probably going to be a very serious win. Apart from the cast and crew talking a lot more about Amelia and how they film was put together, there’s also a good deal of behind-the-scenes involving the flying sequences that is especially interesting. There’s also a bit about the decisions involving the love story, and how to make it come through in a way audiences will be able to connect with, given the general oddness surrounding the details.
The Power of Amelia Earhart runs about 11-minutes and focuses on the impact Amelia had during her life, and how the public came to their views, despite her not being a fan of the publicity tours. This could have been a bit longer, but it’s a nice look back that fans will enjoy. It’s worthwhile to have this included just for the statement on the perspective during her life.
The standard DVD release also includes 10 deleted scenes, and several clips of Movietone News, the news as presented to the public at the time.
You might hope for more in the way of bonuses (and the Blu-Ray adds two featurettes – The Plane Behind the Legend, and Re-constructing the Planes of Amelia), but it’s a pretty solid release.