This movie musical never degenerates into a false wholesomeness and the large cast is for the most part up to the task, with actors James Corden, Emily Blunt, and Meryl Streep in particular turning in great performances.
The story of Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic athlete who is imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp during World War II, is inspirational. But it would have been even more so without making Zamperini an almost saintlike figure.
Bradley Cooper delivers a commendable performance as Chris Kyle, the most accomplished sniper in US military history, but the movie doesn't plumb Kyle's psychological state as much as it does the acuity of Kyle's marksmanship.
When Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) finally challenges her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz), who claimed to have created her artwork, you feel like cheering, but the movie doesn't explore how art this banal captures us.
'Annie' star Quvenzhané Wallis is radiantly charming in the title role of a foster child who charms a billionaire, but the movie is indifferently directed and musical numbers don't exactly bring down the house.
'Hobbit' actor Martin Freeman is one of the best parts of the trilogy, but the new movie doesn't leave a lot of room for him. However, the affection director Peter Jackson has for the material is never in doubt.