Amistad - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Amistad Reviews

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½ September 24, 2016
Djimon and McConaughey shine in this upsetting but remarkable true story of freedom and slavery. It should have won oscars aplenty but was wrongly overlooked.
September 10, 2016
I'm biased on this one because I lived in and love Sierra Leone, but I love it.

Deep and heartfelt, I was cheering Cinque on the entire time.
August 25, 2016
absolute story telling for establishing political propaganda unless history
½ August 19, 2016
Marvelous performances in an excellent film about an incident that should be taught in public school history text books, but isn't. Anthony Hopkins steals the show.
½ August 10, 2016
The amazing cast does a great job. Mostly a court drama but the actors were so good that the pace was fine. Great movie!
½ July 25, 2016
I talk about this case every time I go into the old Supreme Court. The film was a bit dramatic, but overall well made.
July 3, 2016
A period drama about a court case which escalates to be a pre-civil war debate about slavery. It does have some very dramatic scenes and is well acted out by a strong cast but it is too long and pretty slow.
May 28, 2016
Much like "Lincoln," the courtroom scenes are executed beautifully, and the slavery scenes are just as harsh as they should be without any sugarcoating. It's more of a historical fact-based film instead of a character study, which always kind of drives me crazy, but Spielberg really directs the hell out of it and Djimon Hounsou's performance is quite masterful.
April 16, 2016
"Amistad" has a compelling and important story to tell, and with Spielberg at the helm it shows glimpses of being something truly special, but Spielberg indulges in a few too many Spielberg-isms in in creative ways, and the story is somewhat preached to the audience rather than shown. When it is shone though, as in most all of the sequences onboard the slaving vessels and directly involving the captured African slaves, but the courtroom drama, while getting off to an engaging start, grinds to a halt in the final act. Almost every scene is treated as climactic, with swelling strings and speechifying on the positions of historical figures. There are beautiful and haunting moments scattered throughout (Gustav Dore's illustrations for the Bible inspiring the slaves a particularly moving one) but this film needed a tighter, more focused script that emphasized characters and complexity. Even the cinematography is pretty average for Spielberg. "Amistad" is good as a history lesson, but not necessarily as film.
½ March 28, 2016
"Amistad" is the American slavery story that made its way to the Supreme Court and yet, you have probably never heard about it. Steven Spielberg brings this story to life in a slow-moving but compelling courtroom setting. I expected much more from this film but that's probably why it is relatively unknown. It competed for four Oscars in the year that "Titanic" swept the event but I don't find any of the noteworthy pieces of this puzzle to be that impressive. The obvious one is Sir Anthony Hopkins and his nomination for Best Supporting Actor as John Quincy Adams. It is very apparent that the nomination is based solely on his impressive patriotic court monologue because the remainder of his role in the film is just average. I also found the performances by big names like Matthew McConahy, Morgan Freeman, and one of my favorite character actors (Pete Postlethwaite) to be underwhelming. The saving grace for the overall acting of this film comes from a young Chiwetel Ejiofor and the non-English-speaking role by Dijmon Hounsou. These two actors draw attention from the rest in every scene. It may be worth watching this one just for those two. The greatest fault of this film is its long-windedness. I understand that this is mainly the story of a court case but the court case relies on our compassion for the slaves. The strong imagery drives the story, rendering the 2 1/2-hour runtime unnecessary. Each excess minute in the courtroom takes away from the poignancy established through the film's introduction and the graphic, heartbreaking flashback. I credit the screenwriters for humanizing the slaves instead of making them into faceless victims; still, the language barrier and extensive dialogue causes the story to plod along until you stop caring about the slaves. Another Oscar nomination was earned by John Williams for his scoring of the film but I find it to be average in comparison with many of his other film scores. It never reaches the heartbreak of "Schindler's List," the driving suspense of "Jurassic Park," or the period-enhancement of "The Patriot." There are a few moments but not enough to make this a masterpiece like many of his other films. Even in a year that was not swept by "Titanic," I can't see this film winning any of its Oscar nominations. "Amistad" is worth seeing for a few memorable performances and the story that it tells, but it is offensive to see Morgan Freeman underused. Not to mention that in the world of courtroom dramas, you are better off spending your time with a second viewing of "A Few Good Men" or "Runaway Jury."
½ March 24, 2016
A hugely engaging and moving portrayal of the plight of a group of slaves who managed to gain control of the ship transporting them to Cuba from Africa. Falling into the hands of the American authorities, the slaves become the subject of a legal battle between the Spanish government, the ship owners, salvage workers and the civil rights movement. The main plot centres around the question of the men being property or kidnapped from their homelands illegally. The action centres chiefly around the ensuing court cases with Matthew McConaughey speaking on behalf of the slaves who are lead by Djimon Hounsou. There are moments of levity as the slaves struggle to understand the bizarre process that they find themselves caught up in but much of the plot involves legal exposition and some moving scenes largely told via flashback. The cast is strong. Aside from McConaughey and Hounsou, we have the ever dependable Anthony Hopkins as a slightly dotty John Quincy Adams, Morgan Freeman as Theodore Joadson and Nigel Hawthorn as Martin Van Buren. In the shameful history of slavery, the tale of the prisoners on the ship La Amistad is an unusual one that deserves to be known. Steven Spielberg does a solid job in directing the tale and it never feels laboured or preachy.
January 24, 2016
Steven Spielberg Is My Favorite Film Director Of All Time And John Williams Is My Favorite Film Composer Of All Time.
½ January 18, 2016
Another great period piece from Spielberg.
December 31, 2015
I rated the film five stars merely because its portrayal of John Quincy Adams was exceptional.
December 25, 2015
Spielberg's take on black slavery, very similar to his take on WWII, the holocaust, alien invasions. There are the utterly helpless victims -- in this case blacks who can't speak English -- who are beset by the gap-toothed villains -- in this case, the face of slavery -- until handsome heroes with pretty teeth (and their inevitable Jewish sidekick) ride in and save the day. The art direction looks like something out of Architectural Digest -- blacks are portrayed in warm yellows and browns; white in cold but harmonious blues and browns. You know, my impression of the face of slavery was pretty white people with nice teeth who partied a lot with the proceeds from other people's work. Who does that sound like -- Hollywood people!
½ December 15, 2015
Although Mr Spielberg heavily edited the historical facts, the spirit behind Hopkins' speech is the thing drives America forward.
December 12, 2015
A powerful and well-constructed courtroom drama that has emotional resonance and features fine performances from Matthew McConaughey and Anthony Hopkins.
November 10, 2015
Superbly directed and powerfully acted, Amistad is a damn solid historical drama.
October 31, 2015
a Steven Spielberg classic. Loved this movie.
½ October 21, 2015
A rousing courtroom drama, with thought-provoking reflections on what it means to be free.
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