When a film gets not only an incredible amount of critical praise, but several awards before the film is even released nationwide, it often is a tell that the film is noteworthy, and the worth the hype it has received the many weeks before its release.
This is certainly not the case with Zero Dark Thirty. With a fairly deceptive ad campaign and hyperbolic controversy, this film is easily one of the biggest disappointments of 2012, making one ponder what all the fuss was really about.
After the tragic events of 9/11, it became the job -- and subsequent obsession -- CIA Agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) to track down al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The next ten years chronicles Maya's hunt for the reclusive terrorist leader, leading up to his death in May of 2011.
Director Kathryn Bigelow follows up The Hurt Locker with this slow-paced drama about the hunt for bin Laden, which writer Mark Boal penned using first-hand accounts of the events. Though the production is fairly impressive with the set design, expensive-looking Military equipment (including stealth helicopters), and night-vision sequences that give a suspense when needed, Boal's script is often very flat, leaving it up to the actors to liven things up -- which doesn't happen too often, seeing that Chastain and Mark Strong are wonderful, but cannot carry a three-hour movie.
Can too much hype kill a movie? Perhaps. If I had seen Zero Dark Thirty when it originally was released in December 2012, it's possibly my opinion of the film would have been different. The problem is, after months of politicians calling for boycotts of the film and critics claiming the film is the best of the year, it's difficult not to be disappointed by the result not living up to the hype. The torture scenes, though inhumane, were nothing compared to the barbaric violence of Django Unchained, and is one of the reasons the movie does not live up to expectations. It's a shame seeing a film not live up to its potential.
FINAL VERDICT: Zero Dark Thirty, though being hailed as a masterpiece, has 15 minutes of action in 170 minutes of film. Though it's interesting to see what went behind closed doors in order to find bin Laden, the pacing of the film is so sluggish, the action sequences seem dull. There is a silver lining, though: it makes Argo look even more impressive.