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'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom' is a little too staid

'Mandela' shows that adapting the leader's life as a film may be too difficult a task.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / November 29, 2013

Idris Elba and Riaad Moosa star in 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.'

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

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Justin Chadwick’s “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” is a staid biopic drawn from Nelson Mandela’s autobiography.

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Idris Elba plays Mandela with burly force, but Mandela’s odyssey from young lawyer and amateur boxer to prisoner on Robben Island to the president’s mansion as his nation’s first democratically elected leader is mostly hagiographic.

Maybe Mandela is one of those historical figures whose life is greater, more larger-than-life, than any mere movie could ever do justice to.

Grade: C- (Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of violence and disturbing images, sexual content, and brief strong language.)

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