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Zero Dark Thirty Review Roundup

Reviews Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty is an amazing film. Kathryn Bigelow's follow-up to The Hurt Locker is the highly anticipated artistic dramatization of the assassination of Osama bin Laden by a team of U.S. Navy SEALS. The film is long, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, and very dense with dialogue, with nearly a hundred speaking roles.

Every critic and filmgoer with a blog has put Zero Dark Thirty near or at the top of their predictions for the Best Film Oscar. This buzz, combined with the film's subject (that which is raw, challenging, polarizing, and often uncomfortable for America's collective psyche), is enough to convince you to see it, but consider these points to help you grasp what you're getting into by going to the cinema this December:

  • Zero Dark Thirty is better than Kathryn Bigelow's previous film, The Hurt Locker, which won the Oscar for Best Picture.
  • Zero Dark Thirty is not a popcorn-chompin' action movie, but a very serious film that challenges the viewer's morals and ideals. Be prepared to embrace the controversy of the film, as it has been accused of being pro-torture. Moreover, its production was chastised for receiving inside information from former SEALS that shouldn't have been released.

Check out the reviews and share your opinion below once you've seen the film.

Loved It

Peter Travers - Rolling Stone

Score: 4 out of 4 stars
Excerpt: Hang on tight. The knockout punch of the movie season is being delivered by Zero Dark Thirty. You're in for a hell of a ride with this high-voltage thriller that digs with shocking gravity into the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden. Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal top their Oscar-winning work in The Hurt Locker by exposing the raw feelings still simmering after 9/11.

Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

Grade: A
Excerpt: Once in a long while, a fresh-from-the-headlines movie — like All the President's Men or United 93 — fuses journalism, procedural high drama, and the oxygenated atmosphere of a thriller into a new version of history written with lightning.

Manohla Dargis - New York Times

Score: 5 out of 5 stars
Excerpt: The scarcity of fiction films about Sept. 11 only partly explains why this movie has provoked debate. Primarily, though, it is the representation of torture — and, more important, the assertion that such abuse produced information that led to Bin Laden — that has provoked outrage in some quarters. We are clearly hungry to work through this raw subject. The most difficult scenes occur early and set the grim mood and moral stakes.

Richard Roeper

Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Rafer Guzman - Newsday

Score: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Excerpt: It mixes checkable facts with dramatic license, but "Zero Dark Thirty" has no overweening political agenda. Instead, it unfolds with the cool detachment of a documentary even in its most tense and gripping scenes.

James Berarinelli - ReelViews

Score: 3.5 out of 4 stars
Excerpt: The story, culled as it has been from recent headlines, is not full of surprises or revelations. We all know it how it will end: with Osama bin Laden in a body bag. The fascination and suspense comes from seeing how the events leading to that moment are dramatized.

Glenn Kenny -MSN Movies

Score: 5 out of 5 stars
Excerpt: As terrific as "The Hurt Locker" was, "Zero Dark Thirty" makes that film look like a dress rehearsal for this. Anchored by a magnificent, sometimes shocking performance by Chastain, who leads a largely fantastic cast (Jennifer Ehle, playing a semi-friendly agency rival, gives one of a dozen or more other superb performances), the movie has a sweep and a scope that's enormous but never grandiose.

Dana Stevens - Slate

Excerpt: But this is a vital, disturbing, and necessary film precisely because it wades straight into the swamp of our national trauma about the war on terror and our prosecution of it, and no one—either on the screen or seated in front of it—comes out clean.

Richard Corliss - Time

Score: 1 out of 5 stars
Excerpt: Though it focuses on the determination and resilience of Maya (who is based on a real CIA tracker), the film is a giant fresco, an imposing series of surgical strikes set in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Poland and the U.S. For a throbbing 2 hours and 40 minutes, ZDT moves through enemy territory with the speed, weight, brains and grace of a Pro Bowl NFL linebacker; it’s the Lawrence Taylor of war-ops movies.

Thought It Was Okay

Peter Rainer - Christian Science Monitor

Grade: C+
Excerpt: What I find troubling and infuriating is that by turning the hunt for bin Laden, however expertly, into a glorified police procedural, Bigelow neutralizes the most controversial and charged aspects of this story. (To no avail, I might add: The film is controversial anyway.) President George W. Bush is never shown, ditto Dick Cheney, Iraq is AWOL, and President Obama is only glimpsed in a 2008 campaign interview. This is a bit like making a movie about the D-Day invasion without referencing FDR or Eisenhower.

Hated It

As far as we know, no top critics hated this film. If you come across an unfavorable review, post it in the comments section below.

Wikian Reviews

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