Picks and Pans Review: Defiance

updated 01/19/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/19/2009 AT 01:00 AM EST

Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Bell | R

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Like Valkyrie, this WWII drama does a decent job of telling a fascinating real-life tale that's too little known. When the Nazis marched into Belarus in 1941 and began rounding up and killing Jews, the four Bielski brothers (Craig and Schreiber play the two eldest) head for the woods and into hiding. The heroic siblings use the forest both to shelter an ever-growing number of other Jewish refugees and as a staging area from which to wage guerrilla warfare against the Nazis. While the story itself is inspiring, Defiance at times can't escape its essential Hollywoodness: Its charismatic stars suffer nobly even as they flash their perfect, gleaming white chompers and fetchingly belt their ersatz ragged costumes.

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