The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Professionally made but artistically uninspired, Ed Zwick's story of Jews surviving WWII in the Belarus forest lacks the emotional punch of the actual history.
All Critics (181)
| Top Critics (45)
| Fresh (104)
| Rotten (77)
| DVD (10)
Schreiber and Craig make a well-matched pair of bulls. Schreiber's volatility is a nice foil to the taciturn intelligence that makes Craig such a great Bond.
Zwick's limitations as an action director seem linked to a troubled conscience: he seems conscious of a need to entertain, but worried that his audience will take too much pleasure in the spectacle of vengeance.
The way Zwick force-feeds his audience emotion becomes laborious.
I felt like these characters were prototypes and not people.
As a piece of historical redress, a great service has been done in bringing this narrative to the screen.
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.
Bielski's extraordinary achievement is fairly and finely rendered...
I've admired Craig's work in all his movies, and though it is unfair to compare his work here with his appearance as James Bond, I regard Defiance as the Daniel Craig movie I admire most.
The actors are compelling. And Director Edward Zwick inflects the material with his trademark mix of moral zeal and high adventure, as in previous epics like Glory, Legends of the Fall and Blood Diamond.
Zwick wants to tell timeless stories on a grand scale. I know that's not what people want anymore. I know it's not breathtaking. But it's not something many are doing now, and definitely not doing it this well.
Zwick does not deal in gratuitous grotesquery or far-fetched metaphor. "Operatic" and "surreal" are not in his vocabulary.
For all its pomp and ruminating, Defiance isn't really interested in drama. It really just wants to entertain us. But it's not any better at that.
Defiance is the true story of Jewish brothers Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber who hid from the Nazis in the Belarussian forest and quickly found themselves with an entire community of fleeing refugees to protect. Edward Zwick has always been fond of telling stories about the triumph of the human spirit and has on occasion been guilty of over-egging the sentimental side of things to get his intended point across. Defiance is no exception, but thanks to some clever writing and a strong central performance by Daniel Craig, this film manages to pull itself back from the brink of schmaltz. When Craig mounted a white steed and gave a very Braveheart speech to his new subjects, I thought "Oh great...here we go again...", but soonafter when the people begin to starve, he promptly pulls out a Luger and puts a bullet in its head, almost as if to say "there's a time and a place for pomp and bluster, but this isn't it"! He shows the conflict between animal instinct and humanity quite nicely, sometimes showing compassion and yes, speech making, but at others dealing with the issues at hand with a ruthless efficiency. Craig and some handsome photography made this film for me and although it is guilty of emotional button pushing, sometimes those are the buttons you want to be pushed; especially when it comes to seeing at least one small victory against the greatest shower of evil bastards ever to walk the Earth...
I wanted to love this movie. The plot, the actors, the setting, all seemed to be the perfect setup for a gripping and dramatic film. Edward Zwick directed this movie and he tends to take sensitive topics and throw in blockbuster action scenes. It almost gave the movie an artificial feeling. Not only that, the follow-up to the ending was dreadfully simplistic with very weak character development. There is one scene noteworthy that really brings out Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber's acting performance, other than that, this movie lacks.
If you were trying to find a way to bash this film you could say that it is about people running and hiding through the same kind of forest for two hours. That would not do the film any justice, of course, even if it is visually somewhat repetitive. The true story of three Belorussian brothers who take it into their own hands to safe as many Jews from the Nazi occupation as possible, by hiding in the woods. Especially the relationship between the reasonable leader Daniel Craig and hot-tempered Liev Schreiber makes the movie interesting even through a couple of slow passages. It also raises interesting questions about the nature of resistance and revenge in its different aspects. The action-packed showdown is really exciting, because those characters have grown on you by then. An enthralling and very entertaining unknown chapter of WW2 history.
Despite a great and inspiring story, and wonderful actors and director, it's hard to think that Defiance wouldn't be great, but the reality is not quite so positive. The cinematography is extremely gorgeous: shot on location in Lithuania. The actors do a good job (except for Daniel Craig who can't seen to keep his accent), and James Newton Howard provides an intense, powerful score that should have won the Best Soundtrack Oscar, but the screenplay is cliched, and the film doesn't have any depth or emotional gravity to be powerful and involving.
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