Amelia (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama
Fox || PG - 111 minutes - $39.99 || February 2, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-03-07


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Mira Nair
Writer(s): Susan Butler ("East to the Dawn" book), Mary S. Lovell ("The Sound of Wings" book); Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan (written by)
Cast: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston


Theatrical Release Date: October 23, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 4 Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Movietone News
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

CLICK HERE to check out the 1080p HD Screen Captures (link opens in a new window).

There are times when you see a bad movie and know itís a bad one before even seeing it. Then you get the movies that take you by surprise... going either way. Unfortunately this is the wrong kind of way for the biopic, Amelia.

The ingredients were there: Two Oscar-winning actors, a capable supporting cast that includes Ewan McGregor, a highly respected independent director in Mira Nair and a beautifully photographed picturesque canvas by Oscar nominee Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano).

The story stars Hilary Swank (Million Dollar Baby) as Amelia Earhart, a spunky young gal with dreams of being the first woman to fly solo. She receives a huge boost by a publicity agent named George Putnam (RICHARD GEAR) who strikes a deal to have her be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, when in fact she would merely be a passenger on the trip rather than flying the plane.

But Amelia would soon find herself propelled into stardom by the public and at the behest of Putnam, takes on endorsement deals that would help pay for her dreams. During this time, Putnam falls in love with her and, after some prodding, she agrees to marry him. When Putnam would be too busy setting up deals and sponsors, Amelia falls into the arms of Gene Vidal (EWAN MCGREGOR) who also shares her passion of flight.

Amelia would conquer flying solo across the Atlantic matching skills with the first person ever to fly, Charles Lindbergh and now she wants to set her sights on being the first to fly around the world. During the course of the film, we go back and forth between her marriage and her journey with flight navigator Fred Noonan (CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON) as they journey from one continent to the next trying to achieve that goal.

And there you have it. That is the basic plot for the film and really, it doesnít go much further in depth with an icon like Amelia Earhart that treats her like a woman weíve only seen in newsreels. After spending nearly two hours with her, we still donít know much more about her except that she wanted to fly. Why? Because she can. Heck, the movie basically states thatís the reason and leaves it at that.

Director Nair wanders into Ameliaís childhood if ever so briefly giving us merely glimpses of it rather than exploring that time of her life. What about the alcoholic, abusive father Amelia talks about? Was it a studio mandate to keep this under two hours? When you have other biopics like Ray and Walk the Line do wonders by fleshing out the subjectís childhood, yet with Amelia, we get none of that. Instead itís more of a history lesson on Amelia and barely goes any further than that.

The clumsy script was written by Ron Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan based off of two novels, ďEast to the DawnĒ and ďThe Sound of WingsĒ. Both writers actually have had decent careers penning scripts like Girl Interrupted (Phelan) and Rain Man (Bass) yet they could not give Amelia Earhart that third dimension to make her a living breathing person the audience could care and root for.

If it werenít for an immersive performance by Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who still was outshined by Amy Adams playing Amelia in Night at the Museum 2 ironically enough, Amelia wouldíve been a complete waste.

The supporting cast also does what they can with such limited material. Richard Gere, for instance, plays the doting husband well enough but it doesnít go beyond a basic level, but like Amelia, you donít know anything about him nor does he help expand Amelia herself. Even a bigger problem is the inclusion of Gene Vidal portrayed by Ewan McGregor whose sole purpose was to give something Gereís character to be jealous of. Why was he even there? Sure, he apparently was a powerful force in Ameliaís life, but he adds nothing.

As it stands Amelia is merely an average biopic of a woman we still donít know on a deeper level. Sure, Swank almost disappears in the role and the production and costume designs are all great, but the story is such a letdown.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Deleted Scenes (13:53; HD) Ė Here we get 10 scenes excised from the film and although theyíre not great, it does answer a few questions I had such as how Amelia came into contact with Putnam; itís a short scene (about a minute), so I donít know why it was removed. The others, including Putnamís wife who was completely removed, arenít great but still interesting to watch.

Making Amelia (23:06; HD) is your basic EPK-like featurette where we get to hear from the cast and crew and how important someone like Amelia Earhart was. You get some behind-the-scenes footage mixed in with interviews talking about the characters, plot and one another. Nothing outstanding here, but still contains some interesting info.

The Power of Amelia Earhart (10:45; HD) takes a look at who Amelia was as the cast and crew talk about her impact on womankind before talking about working with other women on the production. Again, itís another featurette with footage from the film sprinkled in with interviews by the filmmakers.

Movietone News (6:41; SD) is a collection of 8 newsreels of Amelia Earhart.

** BLU-RAY EXCLUSIVES **

The Plane Behind the Legend (4:33; HD) Ė Short featurette that focuses on the Electra plane which Amelia Earhart used in her fateful around-the-world flight and the difficulties of getting one to use.

Re-Constructing the Planes of Amelia (6:37; HD) couldíve been folded into the previous featurette as it examines making the 1920s planes used for filming.

The digital copy is on the second disc and is compatible with iTunes and WMV.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Amelia is presented in 1080p high-definition and in its original 2.35 aspect ratio. The picture itself is crisp and clean with no discernible amount of dust or scratches. Detail level throughout looks great and the color scheme, of the early 20th century, seems to be right in line with how it appeared on the big screen. Everything about the picture looks great and is the best part of the entire package.

Meanwhile, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is what I would call good enough. There really isnít a whole lot of action outside of plane engines as most of the movie is comprised of dialogue. The LFE doesnít get much of a kick and I didnít notice much coming from the rear channels, but itís a track that is suitable for the movie.



.::OVERALL::.

Amelia shouldíve been much better. On paper when you get two Academy Award winners and one in Hilary Swank who immerses herself into the role, and production values that look gorgeous, Iím sure the studio thought they had something special on their hands. Instead, we got a good looking, well acted film with little substance behind the writing. We donít get to know who Amelia Earhart was on a personal level and the chemistry between Swank and Gere didnít work too well either. Add in an affair that looked more like an afterthought for the story and you have a film that is frustratingly average.