12 Years a Slave

Metascore
97

Universal acclaim - based on 48 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 48
  2. Negative: 0 out of 48
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  1. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Sep 13, 2013
    50
    Steve McQueen's film practically treats Solomon Norhtup as passive observer to a litany of horrors that exist primarily for our own education.
User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 931 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 25 out of 199
  1. Oct 18, 2013
    10
    Chiwetel Ejiofor is so impressive in this incredibly intense, visceral film. (When it ended, nobody in my theater moved for a period of time,Chiwetel Ejiofor is so impressive in this incredibly intense, visceral film. (When it ended, nobody in my theater moved for a period of time, and there was no round of applause mostly, it seemed, because of the shock of it all. Clapping didn’t seem like the right thing to do.) The fact that we experience the story from the perspective of a kidnapped free man makes the film instantly relatable. I was so happy to have watched all of Tom Fontana’s excellent “Copper” which features an African American civil war veteran doctor living in New York, and all of his family’s struggles in Five Points. Solomon, a New Yorker kidnapped from Washington DC, could be any of us. The Southern landscape as it likely existed in those days provides such a beautiful-yet- eerie backdrop to this movie. What I particularly appreciate the fact that all the shots are confined you never see very far into the distance. There’s never any perspective on things. When the boat transporting the kidnapped south moves, you see the paddlewheels. On the plantations, you see the three or four acres where the slaves live. You never get any aerial shots, which is so effective in giving you a disoriented, lost feel. Even if Solomon wants to escape, he has no idea where the hell he is, and neither do we. The acting in general is uniformly excellent. Fassbender? Wow. Not since Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List has an actor put out so completely for the detestable guy role and to such great effect. Full Review »
  2. Oct 23, 2013
    2
    Well, here comes the biggest Oscar-fisher of the year. A totally unnecessary film with every star they could have possibly packed in there forWell, here comes the biggest Oscar-fisher of the year. A totally unnecessary film with every star they could have possibly packed in there for exactly that purpose does nothing special with its characters or its plot (pun unintended). It's kind of entertaining, sure, but not in a way that makes you want to watch it again. It's just kind of there and a tad formulaic. It even feels a bit exploitative (it's a film about life in slavery with an astonishing number of recognizable names in it, but no one who really *fits* into the role. "Dirty Pretty Things" portrayed a few similar themes *FAR* better, and the protagonist was even likable. Can we ever get a slavery-victim role that portrays a realistic human, and not just stereotypes of what we were taught in elementary school?) in its portrayal of the time period, and takes the "drama" genre to the breaking point. Full Review »
  3. Nov 3, 2013
    2
    Beyond the intriguing premise (a man is kidnapped into slavery) this movie goes nowhere. Brutal, repetitive, and pointless. What is theBeyond the intriguing premise (a man is kidnapped into slavery) this movie goes nowhere. Brutal, repetitive, and pointless. What is the subtext? What is the message? Slavery was bad? No character development, no plot development. Just one graphic depiction of cruelty after another. Brad Pitt's accent is ridiculous.

    Compare this movie to Schindler's List or even Roots and it pales in comparison.

    Skip "Twelve Years A Slave" and save yourself an extremely unpleasant 2 hours.
    Full Review »