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What to know: Inspiring movie about human survival and one man's tenacity under some of the most difficult situations.
Recommended age 13-18
137 minutes
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UNBROKEN cover image Click to play video trailer
Unbroken tells the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who joined the armed forces in World War II and endured tortured until the end of the war.

Although Unbroken is the third film Angelina Jolie has directed, Jolie skillfully recounts Zamperini's life. The first half weaves in and out of Zamperini's childhood and life in the Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

Some of the cinematography is gripping, such as the scene in which Zamperini and his friends encounter sharks while they're lost in the middle of an ocean. The opening shots of Zamperini's crew struggling to stay alive in their airplane immediately engage the audience.

Despite the occasional frantic scenes, the movie succeeds best by focusing on its plot, which is intellectually fulfilling. There aren't any extraneous scenes and the story is straightforward. However, I didn't feel emotionally connected. I was looking forward to watching Zamperini develop relationships with his friends during the war. But, there isn't much of that. The ending, which is when the war finally ends, feels a bit rushed and didn't feel gratifying. Most of the film centers on Zamperini withstanding suffering. Although Unbroken is rated PG-13, there are several violent scenes in which the protagonist is beaten. I recommend it for ages 13 to 18.

Jolie's storytelling conveys the themes clearly. Zamperini was known as a troublemaker during his childhood. Yet, he worked hard to become a great runner and eventually was good enough to enter the Olympics. After his crew's plane crashes, he manages to stay alive, even despite a brutal 47 days stranded in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. When he's captured by the Japanese navy and is sent to a prisoner-of-war camp, he endures severe beatings. When he's presented the opportunity to live luxuriously in exchange for aiding the Japanese, he refuses. When the war ends, he forgives his World War II enemies and fulfills his dream by participating in a marathon in Japan. The themes of loyalty, determination, perseverance and forgiveness make the movie very relevant to today's society. As Lauren Hillenbrand writes in her book, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, "A lifetime of glory is worth a moment of pain."

This inspiring movie is fitting for the holiday season. Watch Unbroken when it's released in theaters Christmas Day!

Reviewed by Gabriella Chu, KIDS FIRST! Critics, age 18.

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After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis biography, drama, sport spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Starring Jack O'Connell, Finn Wittrock, Takamasa Ishihara, Domhnall Gleeson. Directed by Angelina Jolie.
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