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Amistad (1997)

tomatometer

76

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 59
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 14

Heartfelt without resorting to preachiness, Amistad tells an important story with engaging sensitivity and absorbing skill.

55

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Critic Reviews: 11
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 5

Heartfelt without resorting to preachiness, Amistad tells an important story with engaging sensitivity and absorbing skill.

audience

79

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 49,876

My Rating

Movie Info

This Steven Spielberg-directed exploration into a long-ago episode in African-American history recounts the trial that followed the 1839 rebellion aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad and captures the complex political maneuverings set in motion by the event. Filmed in New England and Puerto Rico, the 152-minute drama opens with a pre-credit sequence showing Cinque (Djimon Hounsou) and the other Africans in a violent takeover of the Amistad. Captured, they are imprisoned in New England where

R,

Mystery & Suspense, Drama

David H. Franzoni

Apr 19, 1999

Dreamworks Distribution LLC

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All Critics (68) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (14) | DVD (16)

In Amistad, an admirable but disappointing effort...[Speilberg] veers between stoic political correctness and mushy Hollywood platitudes.

June 18, 2002 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Spielberg seems to be dividing his filmmaking output into two distinct halves: in the summer months cranking out no-brainer dinosaur flicks...in the winter season unveiling his serious artistic stuff to edify the adults and woo the Oscar crowd.

April 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

What is most valuable about Amistad is the way it provides faces and names for its African characters, whom the movies so often make into faceless victims.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Halfway into Amistad comes the point where Steven Spielberg pulls the lever, and the stink and horror and bestialities of slavery spill around our ankles. We can't look away.

January 1, 2000
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Powerful story for mid-teens and up.

December 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Amistad is worth seeing just for people to know about this important story, this moment in history. But from the world's most powerful, successful and famous director, we expect more.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Aiming to instruct and entertain, and often struggling to reconcile these goals, Amistad lacks the subtlety of tone and simplicity of form that made Schindler's List one of Spielberg's very best; here, however, every idea and image are too explicit.

February 13, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Fortunately, the dry, courtroom banter is interjected with powerful accounts of the violent, inhumane atrocities inflicted on the slaves by Spanish merchants.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Amistad is the telling of an interesting event in American history, but doesn't draw its audience in to the heart of the story.

April 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

This is the most straightforward, understated, and powerful big-screen representation of the gospel in recent movie history. And for that, Amistad should be recommended to everyone.

December 6, 2004 Full Review Source: Looking Closer
Looking Closer

As with Schindler’s List, Spielberg allows his subjects to be remote and somewhat unknowable human beings, creating an air of documentary-like authenticity.

July 19, 2003 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Amistad is the kind of movie that makes a tired topic seem fresh and entertaining again.

May 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Blather
Film Blather

Just when you thought you had seen the best movie there is about a historic seagoing vessel, along comes Amistad.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Spielberg's films never lack a certain degree of narrative and visual force, but his tendency toward sentimentality, a strictly antipodal, Good-vs.-Bad conception of character, and an insensitivity to structure have consistently marred his work...

January 10, 2003 Full Review Source: Nick's Flick Picks
Nick's Flick Picks

Steven Spielberg's engaging, heartfelt and well-made drama delves into a critical incident in the history of slavery in America.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Despite its occasional imperfections...Amistad must be regarded as a monumentally impressive achievement and further proof of Spielberg's ongoing maturation as an artist.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Falta alma ao filme.

May 31, 2002 Full Review Source: Cinema em Cena
Cinema em Cena

The essential commitment to freedom is so much a part of the story that, at least in this one brief moment, justice triumphed.

April 13, 2002
Movie Mom at Yahoo! Movies

Celebrates the holy grail of freedom and how the quest for justice is supported by the spirits of ancestors .

March 1, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

The whole historical untouchability of a Very Important Film & the incredibly dry nature of the facts was what made this production a lose-lose proposition for Spielberg.

June 14, 2001 Full Review

Brief moments of visceral fire allow glimpses into the rousing movie this could have been.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC

Spielberg's considerable talent is not quite enough to unearth it

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for Amistad

More of an interesting history lesson than a compelling film despite good performances.
January 13, 2013
jjnxn
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

This is, like a lot of Spielberg, pretty sentimental and schmaltzy, but it had some good intentions, even if the pretentions and pandering can't be totally covered up.

I mean, it is Spielberg, so there are great production values, and John Williams has a good score, but the acting and some of the casting just doesn't totally come together for me. I do think this is an alright movie though, even if the story does deserve a better telling.
November 18, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Steven Spielberg crafts a good historical drama. However it's not without its flaws. The problem with Amistad is that it takes a terrific aspect of history, and over bloats it into a romanticized version of the facts. The film is good, but could have been much better. The elements of the film at times just don't work, and Spielberg, who usually makes great films, makes the film's subject matter almost silly at times instead of compelling. I liked the film, but I liked the film, but I felt that since this is a historical film, the usual Spielberg flair could have been slightly toned down. The best aspect of this film is the performance delivered by Anthony Hopkins as President John Quincy Adams. His performance makes this film worth seeing. The film does have that going for it, and it is entertaining, but I felt it fell short of its potential, especially with its subject matter, which is history. Steven Spielberg direction is good, but at times unfocused and the flaws I pointed out earlier in this review become apparent to the viewer. My biggest problem with this film is that it is a historical film mixed with a feel good flavor, thus the film falls short of what it could be. I expected so much more with this film, but in the end, it touches the tip of the iceberg of this real historical account, and becomes more of a court room drama, which many viewers will probably find not that great. I liked the film, but the film's potential is wasted and in turn Amistad is simply a good little film without being anything great or excellent.
September 27, 2012
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

A good handful of poignant scenes and numerous others in-between centered around logistics -- just how does a western lawyer in the 1840s connect with African clients who's language he doesn't understand? I wish that Spielberg had followed the advice that John Quincy Adams gives in the movie and showed us more about Cinque's story before he was kidnapped.
December 2, 2011
Matthew Slaven

Super Reviewer

    1. Martin Van Buren: I am burdened by white guilt.
    – Submitted by Jesse K (12 months ago)
View all quotes (1)

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