Defiance - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Defiance Reviews

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Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out
November 16, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Ben Kenigsberg
Time Out
November 16, 2011
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Stanley Kauffmann
The New Republic
February 12, 2009
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Ben Lyons
At the Movies
January 20, 2009
The way Zwick force-feeds his audience emotion becomes laborious.
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Ben Mankiewicz
At the Movies
January 20, 2009
I felt like these characters were prototypes and not people.
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Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
January 16, 2009
As a piece of historical redress, a great service has been done in bringing this narrative to the screen.
Full Review | Original Score: B
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
January 16, 2009
It's understandable and laudable that they desire not to sensationalize the Bielskis, and they've made a worthy film. But their understated approach makes the struggle seem less urgent than it must surely have been.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
January 16, 2009
Ultimately, the film celebrates and memorializes the survival of something unthinkable, and a group of people for whom defiance meant, at heart, that they would push against the growing darkness and carry on.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
January 16, 2009
It's difficult, perhaps impossible, to make a gripping 137-minute epic about people standing around under the trees.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Connie Ogle
Miami Herald
January 16, 2009
Defiance may lack the sort of emotional punch that sticks, but its story of courage and responsibility is undeniably compelling.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
January 16, 2009
It is, all in all, a film as square-shouldered as its leads -- tough-minded, forcibly acted and conventionally spun by Zwick and co-writer Clayton Frohman.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
January 16, 2009
What is puzzling is how Edward Zwick has taken an extraordinary real-life story about a handful of people who defied huge odds, and turned it into an utterly conventional war movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
January 16, 2009
The story is inspirational; the movie isn't.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Andrea Gronvall
Chicago Reader
January 16, 2009
Zwick, intent on correcting the perception of Jews as passive victims, lets the action set pieces overwhelm the more intimate scenes, several of which are already diminished by stilted dialogue.
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Ty Burr
Boston Globe
January 16, 2009
What the Bielski brothers did in the forests of Belorussia deserves to be remembered and celebrated, but this glossy studio production robs them of life. It's not just new Holocaust stories that we need, but new ways of telling them.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
January 16, 2009
The script hokes up the tensions between the brothers played by Craig and Schreiber, and while they're both fascinating, simmering-kettle performers, they consistently outshine their material.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
January 15, 2009
The resistance drama Defiance just doesn't seem to have anything to add to the swastika overload currently clogging the nation's theaters.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
January 15, 2009
Craig and Schreiber are terrific as the slightly thuggish Bielskis, and they're joined by an able supporting cast that includes Jamie Bell and the wonderful Mia Wasikowska.
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Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 15, 2009
Defiance is a wobbly stool, a seat propped up by the uneven legs of ethics debate, Holocaust movie and action thriller. Still, the fascination and novelty of Nazi-killing Jews who don't perish in the death camps packs quite the wallop.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
January 15, 2009
For all the film's flaws, this is a war story told with passion about a band of brothers that still has the power to inspire.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
January 15, 2009
The story of Defiance has all the makings of a deep emotional experience, but I found myself oddly detached.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
January 15, 2009
Plays at times more like a soap opera than what it really is, a story that more of the world deserves to know.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
January 14, 2009
As corny and downright flirtatious as this 'Holocaust drama' gets, it's still a vivid and heroic look at a side of that tragedy that we haven't seen before.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
January 14, 2009
Defiance bogs down in a not very well-developed script. It's a repetitive stop-and-start action film, and Tuvia and Zus don't have enough layers.
 But they do kick ass charismatically.
Full Review | Original Score: B-
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Tom Huddlestone
Time Out
January 9, 2009
The film ties itself in knots trying to be both historical account and ripping adventure - 'Schindler's List' by way of 'The Dirty Dozen'. In the end neither aspect satisfies, resulting in a drab if diverting Sunday afternoon spectacle.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/6
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Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
January 5, 2009
It's a pretty good movie -- a bold, uneasy mix of romance, political debate and vigorous action.
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David Denby
New Yorker
January 5, 2009
The picture offers the most moving account we've ever had of how an ordinary, rather disagreeable man, challenged and then electrified by catastrophe, grows into a great leader.
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
January 2, 2009
Despite all the resources brought to bear -- strong cast, ambitious scale, impressive logistics, dense detail, fine cinematography -- the production seldom makes the leap from elaborate play-acting to authentic drama.
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Eric D. Snider
Film.com
January 1, 2009
The problem is the screenplay, which has weak, unforceful dialogue and tends to substitute dramatic events for characterization.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Miranda Siegel
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 31, 2008
Occasionally schmaltzy, to be sure, but Schreiber makes a surprisingly awesome Rambo stand-in.
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Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
December 31, 2008
Defiance isn't afraid to stand apart.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
December 31, 2008
Defiance plods where it should soar, but it's still the best of this month's four (!) Holocaust movies -- if for no other reason than it confronts the common belief that European Jews didn't actively resist the Nazi onslaught.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 31, 2008
It's an unusual and important story. Which makes it even sadder that it's not better told.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Nathan Rabin
AV Club
December 31, 2008
Defiance groans under the weight of its deadly earnestness: it's handsomely mounted yet strangely inert.
Full Review | Original Score: C
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Ella Taylor
Village Voice
December 30, 2008
if there's one instance of the road to perdition paved with fat budgets and good intentions, it's Defiance, or, as I prefer to call it, Custersky's Last Stand in Belarus.
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Rafer Guzman
Newsday
December 30, 2008
Defiance comes alive in its quieter scenes and smaller details.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
December 30, 2008
Craig and Schreiber are two excellent actors, and both of them connect strongly with their roles as well as their fierce rivalry.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 30, 2008
Defiance resists bold, passionate storytelling and delivers something rather conventional.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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A.O. Scott
New York Times
December 30, 2008
Edward Zwick's stiff, musclebound new movie tells the true story of the Bielski partisans, who fought the Nazis and rescued hundreds of Jews through the darkest years of war and genocide.
| Original Score: 2/5
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James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 29, 2008
Ultimately, the film works not just because of the character arc it provides for its main character but for its ultimate theme of the triumph over adversity.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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December 29, 2008
It's an inspiring story, if one that doesn't need quite as much poetic inspiration as Ed Zwick's movie insists on giving it.
Full Review | Original Score: 6/10
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Amy Nicholson
Boxoffice Magazine
December 5, 2008
As solemn as a bell toll and nearly as dull.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
November 13, 2008
Passionate if prosaically rendered.
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Todd McCarthy
Variety
November 10, 2008
A potentially exceptional story is told in a flatly unexceptional manner in Defiance.