Amelia; I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell; Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant; Saw VI; Astro Boy
After last week's batch of surprise successes, it's back to another week of blistering disappointments. Matt "the" Gronke discovers why you shouldn't trust any Oscar bait released prior to December, critic-from-the-future Donovan Laird describes I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell's affect on the end of the world, Ian "ProfessorClumsy" Maddison struggles to find a reason to like The Vampire's Assistant (surprise, surprise, that reason is John C. Reilly, who could make zit porn worth watching), Sean "bad movie knight" Hanson has an aneurysm trying to unravel Saw VI's coiled and convoluted plot, Joseph "Jay Dub" Wade is mildly impressed by Astro Boy, and all of us tell you about Movies That Don't Suck.
Amelia, like its titular character, is lost
by Matt "the" Gronke
EXPECTATIONS: I often wonder about how people can become emotionally invested in historical dramas where they already know that the main character will tragically die. I fully expect that this film will be too long, will attempt to pull at my heart strings, will have way too much orchestral music, will be overacted and will win an Academy Award.
REALITY: I have to admit, I was on board with this film in the beginning. Mira Nair is a great navigator, one who can tell a story when she is in her element. However, in Amelia, she seemed lost. The problem is that the film runs out of fuel toward the end and never really addresses Amelia's ethos. What we get is Hilary Swank propelling us through a biopic that covers all of Amelia's personal landmarks but misses the terrain. We see her historic flights and her turbulent relationship with her husband, but that's all information that we could get from an encyclopedia. Combine that with the Hollywood sheen glossing over each frame, and you've got a film that goes into a tailspin and never recovers.
Since I've run out of airplane-related puns to use in this review, I'm going to wing it and delineate the myths and facts surrounding Amelia Earhart, her life and her disappearance. To clarify, the myths were perpetrated by the film, and the facts are reality.
MYTH: Amelia Earhart was a great pilot.
FACT: Amelia Earhart was a horrible pilot who was constantly criticized by other pilots for her lack of experience.
MYTH: During her famous trans-Atlantic flight, for which she volunteered, she wanted to be in the cockpit but wasn't allowed because of the sexist attitudes prevalent in the early 20th century. She had to sit in the back and take notes.
FACT: During her famous trans-Atlantic flight, which someone called and asked her to participate in, she had absolutely no experience flying a plane using controls, so she had no choice but to sit in the back and take notes.
MYTH: Using string and woodwind instruments as background noise for every goddamn minute of the film is a great idea.
FACT: When I hear suspenseful_crescendo.mp3 for the fifth time in the film and I realize we're only 30 minutes in I want to crash my own plane into the Bermuda Triangle.
MYTH: Amelia Earhart, as portrayed by Hilary Swank, was a tomboyish but very beautiful and alluring woman.
MYTH: Richard Gere's portrayal of George P. Putnam was mesmerizing.
FACT: Richard Gere is a horrible actor who should never work in film again. Every time he was on screen, he would stare blankly with those tiny, beady, soulless black eyes, attempting his best at what Jon Lovitz would lovingly call "ACTING!"
MYTH: Keep an eye out for this film come award season!
FACT: This is a really lame attempt at Oscar bait, and if it succeeds I will lose all faith in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (as if there's any left after Diablo Cody stepped up to the podium to receive the award for Best Original Screenplay).
MYTH: Much like Charlize Theron in Monster, Hilary Swank has completely transformed into Amelia Earhart.
FACT: All she had to do was cut her hair and suddenly she's Amelia Earhart. Hilary Swank looks like some kind of twink boy half the time anyway; this is why she did so well in Boys Don't Cry. Her accent in this film was terrible, barely sounding authentic and oscillating violently between what Earhart sounded like and what Swank sounds like naturally.
MYTH: This was an emotionally engaging film. My heart was constantly racing due to the suspenseful scenes in which her fate was uncertain.
FACT: Amelia Earhart crashed into the Pacific Ocean. This is a well-known fact. How can I become emotionally invested in a character's well-being when I know the history behind it going into the film? Early in the film, Amelia has some flight trouble and takes a nosedive to the ground. The film attempts to build suspense during this scene with rapid cuts while the music reaches a crescendo of flutes and strings...and I'm falling asleep. Why? Because we all know that she lives on to crash during her trans-everything flight. Why the hell would I sit in a dark theater, biting my nails and whispering to myself, "oh no, she could possibly crash," so early in her career? I know she won't. We all know she won't. Stop trying to bait me.
All in all, this film ended up being extremely frustrating by spending too much time educating us in the history of Amelia Earhart, and too little on investigating what was in her soul that made her a pioneer in women's aviation. Combine that with poor acting from major players, too much symphonic music drowning everything out and a Hollywood sheen that could be seen from space, and you have an unsuccessful attempt by Mira Nair at an Academy Award nomination.
RATING (OUT OF 5)