For the majority of 2014 - and some time before it - Angelina Jolie's latest directorial effort Unbroken has been talked up as a potential Oscar winner. Lord knows the Academy has a penchant for historical biopics and the story of Louis Zamperini is certainly one of the most inspiring stories to rise from the horrors of World War II.

Jack O'ConnellJack O'Connell [L] stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken

Zamperini was a teenage track star at the Berlin Olympics in 1936 but was tested beyond belief as a prisoner of the Japanese during the Second World War. Presumed dead after crash landing in the South Pacific, Zamperini survived by clutching onto a raft for 47 days before being incarcerated in prison camps and beaten daily for nearly 3 years, all whilst kept on a near-starvation diet.

British actor of the moment Jack O'Connell was selected as the right man to play Zamperini and Jolie set about bringing Zamperini's inspiring true story to the big-screen. 

More: Angelina Jolie pays tribute to Louis Zamperini at Unbroken premiere

The movie certainly has the crew of an Oscar winner. It's a sort-of in-joke in the industry that Roger Deakins - arguably the greatest cinematographer of all time - is yet to win an Oscar, despite 10 nominations. Deakins worked on Unbroken, whole Joel and Ethan Coen rewrote the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson (Les Miserables) and Richard LaGravenese (Behind the Candelabra).

Despite the stellar crew, the obvious talents of O'Connell and Jolie's ever-expanding directorial talents, Unbroken appears to have failed to chime with critics.

"The film settles into a Forrest Gumpian groove that doesn't glorify the human spirit so much as sap it," said Tim Robey of the Daily Telegraph.

Angelina JolieAngelina Jolie [L] and Unbroken's subject, the late Louis Zamperini [R]

"Though high-minded and well-intentioned - as well as being conceived on an epic scale - there's something faintly stodgy and safety-first about the endeavour," said Andrew Pulver of The Guardian.

"A bit embalmed in its own nobility, it's an extraordinary story told in dutiful, unexceptional terms, the passionate commitment of all involved rarely achieving gut-level impact," said Justin Chang of Variety.

Still, there are positives.

"This will be a tough film for some to take. But it also has strong appeal as an extraordinary survival story, and Laura Hillenbrand's first-rate book that inspired it has not been on the best-seller lists for four years for nothing," said Todd McCarthy of the Hollywood Reporter.

"Jack O'Connell's performance and the fantastic work done by Jolie and her team make this a far more effective story than one might expect," wrote Edward Douglas of

Curiously, the bookmakers are still happy to offer Unbroken as second favourite to win Best Picture at the Oscars - only Boyhood is considered more likely to triumph. Critically acclaimed movies like The Imitation Game, Selma, Birdman and Foxcatcher are now way down the list. Which could cost the bookmakers a couple of dollars.

Unbroken is out in cinemas on December 25, 2014.

Watch the trailer for Unbroken: