Rated 3.0

There have been a number of memorable movie incarnations of Amelia Earhart over the years—Rosiland Russell (1943), Susan Clark (1976), Diane Keaton (1994), and even Amy Adams’ comic cameo in the recent Night at the Museum sequel. In Mira Nair’s blandly handsome new movie biography, Hilary Swank tops them all—the physical resemblance is especially striking, and she channels the woman’s mannerisms and gestures with considerable skill and subtlety. But even with its casting coups and dazzling production values, the Nair/Swank Amelia emerges as an oddly underachieving biopic, a nicely upholstered period piece that consistently veers away from anything other than the most routine drama and treats its several remarkable characters—including especially Earhart herself—as if they were little more than idealized movie clichés. Earhart’s career as aviation pioneer and feminist role model is duly and extravagantly summarized, and Swank catches a credible sense of both the swagger and the reticence of the Earhart we can see in vintage photographs and newsreels. But the script (by Ronald Bass and Anna Hamilton Phelan) seems patronizingly simplistic in its characterizations and dialogue, even as it maintains a pedantic fidelity to the historic record. Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated PG