Release Date: February 23rd, 2007 by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Roadside Attractions.
The Cast: Ioan Gruffudd, Romola Garai, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Gambon, Rufus Sewell, Jeremy Swift, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Jones, Nicholas Farrell, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Stephen Campbell Moore, Bill Paterson, Youssou N'Dour, Albert Finney.
Directed by Michael Apted.
BASIC PREMISE: William Wilberforce (Gruffudd), an 18th Century idealist, campaigns to abolish slavery in Great Britain. Based on a true story.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Amazing Grace would have been more engaging with more focused storytelling and better developed characters. In his mid thirties, William Wilberforce describes to Barbara Spooner (Garai), through flashbacks, his failed attempt to abolish slavery when he was 21. Prime Minister William Pitt (Cumberbatch), Oloudah Equiano (NíDour) and Thomas Clarkson (Sewell) try to help him on his quest, but congress quickly vetoes the antislavery bill. Flashing forward to his mid-thirties, the rest of the film pretty much follows William as he tries again to abolish slavery. Albert Finney adds some gravitas in the role of John Newton, the composer of the titular song who, in his brief scenes, advises William. Michael Gambon also stands out in the role of Lord Charles Fox. Meanwhile, those who oppose antislavery include Lord Tarlton (Hinds) and the Duke of Clarence, played by Toby Jones who was great in Infamous, but isnít given enough of a chance to shine here. As you may notice already, this plot is already stuffed with so many historical/political figures that it feels convoluted. The bland screenplay by Stephen Knight fails to bring any of the characters to life and includes too many talky scenes that drag. On a positive note, director Michael Apted adds some authenticity to the time period with beautifully designed costumes and intricate set designs. At a running time of two hours, though, Amazing Grace overstays its welcome.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Unfocused, bland and occasionally drags.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 5
IN A NUTSHELL: Beautiful costumes, intricate set designs and a few strong performances barely compensate for bland characters and an unfocused plot that occasionally drags.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: DVD
The "A" Menu