Amelia
It’s less fun if you know the ending .

Theatrical Release Date: 10/23/2009
Director: Mira Nair
Cast: Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, Joe Anderson

It’s always a little strange to watch films where the ending is common knowledge. With “Amelia”, the public is already well aware that the big boat sinks … wait … nevermind. For those of you who may not know, I won’t spoil it but for the rest of you, don’t worry, this is one time Hollywood didn’t change the ending (had this been a Disney cartoon, all bets are off).

Perhaps meant as the opening salvo of this year’s awards season, perennial Oscar contender Hilary Swank and go-to silver haired fox Richard Gere attempt to use director Mira Nair’s vision to bring the life of Amelia Earhart to the big screen. Unfortunately, the best compliment I can drum up for this project is that it’s a competently made bio-pic.

The production design is top notch. The cinematography is excellent. The acting is good. The story is compelling. However, somehow the film never elicited much more than faint interest from me throughout.

As the story switches between Earhart’s attempt to be the first to fly around the world and the telling of her rise to prominence, Nair does a nice job of hitting the plot points. But that’s the problem, the entire picture is a series of key moments that come across like a book report rather than a feature film.

From a visual standpoint, Swank and Gere bear remarkable resemblances to their real life counterparts. Swank’s performance may garner her some awards attention but I think that would be more of a response to her previous work in films like “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Million Dollar Baby” than anything she does here. Even during tense moments of her record-breaking efforts, I was more inclined to want a snack than to become engrossed in the goings-on in the movie.

While I was never completely bored, my interest waned from time to time and no amount of effort from Swank or the other actors (all of whom do fine) could really pique my interest. Still, I did manage to learn a few things and all of the behind-the-camera elements were well done, so “Amelia” gets a 3 out of 5. If you’re an aviation history fan, there’s merit to the film and there’s nothing wrong with it. But if the best I can muster is to say that nothing was wrong, that doesn’t bode well for the positive points either.