Argumentative August #21 – Amistad (1997) – tenstarsorless.com
Rob and I would like to once again welcome you to another review for our Argumentative August Blogathon. This next film, Amistad is being reviewed by myself here at tenstarsorless.com. Let’s see what I thought of this movie….
After watching Amistad for the second time in my life all I could think about was my 11th grade U.S. History class. In an attempt to bring history alive our teacher would show us movies that were related to the material we were studying.
Fast forward almost two decades later and all I can say is look at the careers of everyone in involved in this movie. This part, as lame as it sounds, was my favourite. To see the hunger in Matthew McConaughey’s acting, the wise old man political thinking of Anthony Hopkins, the ever versatile Morgan Freeman, and the beginning of a stellar career for Djimon Hounsou. Together these leading men will tell a beautiful tale about never giving up, fighting for what’s right, and dig into one of the world’s darkest stories about slave trading.
What didn’t I like?
I honestly dreaded watching this movie, which clocks in at two-hour and thirty-two minutes, thinking it would drag on. Much to my surprise this movie flew by because the story moves at such a solid pace you don’t even realize how quick it is. There’s a lot of story to tell here, whether it is more about the background of these slaves or the man defending them which leaves some plot holes that could be covered up. Sadly though the writing doesn’t allow for it. The story itself is a rather touchy subject for many so people need to know what to expect heading into it.
Was Primal Fear a good story?
The story of the Amistad ship is about as real as it gets. Slave trading was big business back in those days and owners just viewed everyone as property, not humans. In one of the rare cases in human history, slaves were defended in a court of life for the freedom. In many regards this story is powerful and moving.
I mentioned earlier in the review that this leading cast was spectacular. Besides McConaughey being one of the best characters in the film, much more credit needs to be given to Hounsou. It seriously must be tough for any person to play the role of a slave, but he does it with so much passion and conviction you would think he really was one. There’s a major language barrier between the slaves and the men defending them, but his dedication to his own freedom will force him to evolve and speak English for the first time. It was a really unexpected part of the story that shows us he is in fact a real person and not a piece of property.
Would I recommend it?
Amistad is going to be either a love it or hate it kind of movie. Some reviews out there give this 10/10 and others not so high. I enjoyed watching this film a second time but now the story is fresh in my head, I won’t be watching it again anytime soon. This film may not be one of Steven Spielberg’s best but it by far not one of his worse ones either.
my star rating: 6 out 10
imdb: 7.2 out 10 / metascore: 63/100 / rottentomatoes: 75% out 100%
roger ebert: 3 out 4 / richard crouse: n/a