Movie Reviews: Amistad




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     Dreamworks (2hr. 30 min.)
     The story of a slave-ship mutiny and the subsequent trial.
     Morgan Freeman, Anthony Hopkins, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew McConaughey
Bottom Line:


     Is it just me, or have you noticed everytime Steven Spielberg makes a mindless film like Jurassic Park or Indiana Jones, he feels he has to follow up and apologize by filming something meaningful like The Color Purple or Schindler's List? Which, as it turns out, is a good thing. First we got dinosaurs and then we get a story of human drama and humanity.
     Spielberg takes a shameful, often filmed chapter in American history and adds a fresh, stark agonizing look at what it was like being held captive aboard a slave ship (monstrously named La Amistad: meaning friendship), after being kidnapped from your native land.
     Amistad is told through the viewpoint and flashbacks of Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) -- his African name was Sengbe Pieh -- the leader of a slave rebellion aboard a Spanish ship. The Africans soon find themselves in a Massachusetts court being tried for murder.
     Anthony Hopkins plays soon to be president John Quincy Adams. He argues before the Supreme Court that the Africans killed in self-defense and that all men are created equal.
     Save for the performances of Hopkins (who gives a great courtroom summation) and Hounsou who is just naturally a commanding figure, the acting in Amistad could have been better.
      Despite the dynamic storyline, Morgan Freeman, an abolitionist, and matinee idol Matthew McConaughey, an estate lawyer, come off a bit flat. However, the vivid scenes aboard the La Amistad almost excuse the acting.



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