User Score
8.0

Generally favorable reviews- based on 732 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 74 out of 732

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  1. Sep 6, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. It's a viewing only for those who have the stomach, but the emotional roller coaster ride you take along with Solomon Northup is almost perfect. The character development and other key aspects of the film, make it a must watch. The movie almost plays like a Schindler's list meets passion of the Christ. The one negative thing I can say about the film is the unnecessary brutality at some parts and also how it drawn out. Sooner or later I felt like I've been here and done this for two hours already. Though the movie closes off with a fantastic conclusion to a movie that will leave you hating yourself...especially if your white. Though my ancestress weren't in America during slavery and basically Irish people were slaves years before blacks; you still get that terrible sense you did something wrong. You can take this badly or good. I choose neither. It paints a picture of what we (as whites) did to blacks, which is basically the worst thing ever committed by Americans, and gives it to us. It's a very well down movie and does seem to be one of the best movies of 2013. Overall it has some big flaws but rights itself in the end with a extremely emotional finale. 9.1 Expand
  2. Sep 5, 2014
    10
    12 Years a Slave is brilliant and depressing at the same time.The performances in this movie are simply fabulous and definitely Oscar worthy.A true heart beating drama that leaves you speechless.
  3. Sep 2, 2014
    10
    Disturbing and violent--12 Years a Slave is far frome easy to view. Nevertheless, this film is something that each and every American owes themselves to see. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong'o shine bright in such a dark world.
  4. Aug 1, 2014
    9
    This was a fantastic film, well written and tremendous performances from all the stars. Far better film than I went in expecting.....................
  5. Jul 25, 2014
    8
    12 Years Slave es una película de drama convincente y con un guión atractivo, y que aunque la película le falto un poco de chispa, no dejo de ser un buen drama.
  6. Jul 21, 2014
    10
    12 Years a Slave is without a doubt,the best film of 2013 - it is emotionally captivating, brilliantly acted, and has a wonderfully heart warming story of a man who faced unfathomable adversity.
  7. Jul 19, 2014
    9
    Una grandiosa película, realizada para hacerte llorar, con maravillosas interpretaciones por parte de sus protagonistas y que muestra una parte importante de la historia norteamericana.
  8. Jul 4, 2014
    4
    All dramas need a conflict and a resolution (Resolution doesn't have to be final, it can be a setup for a new conflict). After "12 Years a Slave" has set up a conflict, it just is. And the worst part of it is that it actually has no resolution - the ending is a lousy cheat. It feels like Steve McQueen has forgotten the differences between a drama and a documentary. Shame.
  9. Jun 29, 2014
    5
    '12 Years a Slave' has a very brutal plot of realism of our history during this time. All the same, it's unnecessarily brutal, and in the end, pointless. The acting is good, but wasted on a script that has seldom meaning to the actual violence of slavery. Try 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' for a movie, maybe thirty to forty years ago.
  10. Jun 25, 2014
    8
    Prior to watching this: No comment here.
    Review:
    Pros: Powerful story. Great acting all around.
    Cons: It may be a great film, but you may not enjoy it.
    4/5 - It's worth paying to watch it in the cinema.
  11. Jun 24, 2014
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Isn't it ridiculous that our society went so far to be politically correct that it crossed the line of common sense? If you don't give an Oscar to a film that is about slavery - you are a racist, if you say something positive about Palestine or Iran - you are anti-Semite, if you give a preference to a Caucasian over African American in the U.S. (based on the skills!) - you are a racist again. if you smile to a woman - you are sexually harassing her (wait, gay harassment is coming, so you won't be allows to smile or make jokes to anyone!).

    Look at all the Critic reviews - nearly EVERYONE gave 100%! This just makes them look ridiculous, as they are afraid to even slightly critisize and not to LOVE a movie about slavery.

    The story plot is quite simple: a free black man is sold to slavery and is later saved. But instead of making the movie multi-dimensional, deep and engaging, the story-tellers "communicate" the story through brutality and violence, as if someone on the face of the earth needs a proof that slavery was bad, and as if slaves were used nearly only as punching bags by sadistic white people.

    Seriously, ask yourself: how many times can you re-watch this film? Will you be enjoying it after re-watching? How many times will you be re-watching it? There were several worthy movies nominated for Oscar this year (e.g. The Wolf of Wall Street or even Captain Phillips), but, no, lets be politically correct and to avoid being labeled racist, lets give the Best Picture to a mediocre film about slavery.
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  12. Jun 22, 2014
    7
    12 years a slave is a good film that could have been a great film, it is well worth watching and the conclusion is fantastic, but they somehow felt the need to try just a little bit too hard, when the subject matter is more than powerful enough.

    Chiwetel delivers an excellent performance - as always, yet I don't believe that the movie deserves the shining critical acclaim it has received.
  13. Jun 21, 2014
    6
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. This film is simply overrated. Steve McQueen is by no means a bad director, but his characters are dull and brutal. They spend much of the movie torturing slaves as a sympathy tool, but it fails and makes you feel horrible. His freeing at the end feels meaningless and stupid. I don't understand why I don't like this movie, it simply rubbed me the wrong way. Expand
  14. Jun 8, 2014
    9
    Very powerful and it definitely deserves all the praise and awards. A truly real, well crafted, extraordinary piece of cinema, though it may be a hard watch with the racial themes. I love how director Steve Mcqueen can capture a very lengthy shot and make it so powerful and grand in his movies. This movie is epic and well acted.
  15. Jun 5, 2014
    9
    This movie is a masterpiece! Not much more to say. I had to regain my manliness by punching my pillow in the end of the movie. The last time I had tears like that in my eyes was when watching a sad film, those were tears of joy and happiness. No film ever did this to me.
  16. May 25, 2014
    8
    12 Years a Slave was just astounding im at a loss for words of how great of a film this is. Steve McQueen blew me away with this film and if i had seen this in 2013 no doubt would it had been hard to choose between this and Gravity. Luckally i don't have to pick and that 12 Years a Slave has the best chance to be the best movie in 2014.

    Solomon Northup is a well educated free black man
    that lives in Saratoga, New York with his family. While his family is off on a trip he decides to work for these people claiming to work for the circus he has dinner with the two men then starts to get sick they help him to his room as he is passing out. He wakes up after being drugged and is told he is now a slave heading to the south.

    He ends up being sold to a man named Ford (Cumberbatch) a small mill owner. Ford takes a liking to Solomon but soon has to sell him to Edwin Epps(Fassbender) a crual and ruthless man so he can pay off his debt. Years go by and we see Solomon trying to survive but with each day and with everything he sees it get's harder harder for him to go on. Plan after plan of his keeps failing and he starts to think he may never go home.

    The movie is so powerful and the unbelievable acting of Chiwetel Ejiofor and Michael Fassbender make this film a much watch for everyone I guess for some though it can be hard to watch at times. The cinematography from Steve McQueen was amazing and the Score from Hans Zimmer was breathtaking

    Overall i give it a 8.0
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  17. May 24, 2014
    4
    There is maybe one or two scenes that showcase the real artistic strength of this movie, but for the most part, it puts me to sleep. The dialogue is outrageously unrealistic.The definition of an over hyped film.
  18. May 16, 2014
    10
    IT ONE OF THOSE FILMS THAT WHOLE WORLD HAS TO SEE!!!!! MUST SEE FILM OF 2013!!!! The performance from the entire were POWERFUL!!!!

    The film that we will never forget!!!
  19. May 11, 2014
    8
    Consensus: A bit boring, but this film has intense sequences of pain and drama, excellent performances and superb direction. 83/100 (B+)

    I usually dislike this type of films, because all of them are very overrated, but this one was very touching and sad, its execution is generally good, but at times it's very boring, the film tries to make you feel the pain of the characters but the
    main problem is that the main character "Solomon Northrup" is uninteresting and extremely boring, overall Chiwetel Ejiofor does a great job performing his boring character.

    There's enough premise and formula to fill up its inflated running time, but the last 40-30 minutes has long periods of boredom, but also this final act has extremely painful, enjoyable and believeable performances, spotlight here Lupita Nyongo'o and the "American Horror Story" star Sarah Paulson.

    Overall despite its inflated running time and a few boring characters, 12 Years a Slave deserves all its awards and high ratings, it's worth watching again and again, its premise it's very delicate, this type of films needs an excellent script, smart direction and superb performances, well my friend "12 Years a Slave" has all of this!. Visit my blog: www.memobosque.blogspot.mx Twitter: @MemoBosque
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  20. May 9, 2014
    9
    Steve Mcqueen's "Shame" didn't make much sense but "12 Years A Slave" is beautifully made, which tells a heart wrenching story during dark days of American history. Sean Bobbit's camera work is truly beautiful.
  21. May 5, 2014
    10
    Ok, so I was a little late to the party with this film, eh? Well, better late than never, right? Correct, and I'm so glad I finally got to see this phenomenal movie. This movie touched me so differently than other movies have this year. I'm not even a big fan of movies about history, so this movie is for everyone if you appreciate things like this. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, in this film does an amazing, flawless performance. They perform each scene wonderfully and the writing/script compliments it all. The whole story is truly sad and touching. A free man gets kidnapped and is sold into the cruel subject of slavery. No movie has portrayed this time period in America as accurately and greatly as this. You know how some lame movies about slavery never really show how brutal the caucasians were to the blacks? This movie has brutal scenes that are NOT easy to watch. I'm not gonna lie. The first master Solomon is sold to is actually not a huge psychopath jerk that you'd think these kind of men would be. Man, the second one though? A HUGE maniacal jerk. Michael Fassbender really shows the audience how cruel this character was. Also, one of my other favorite, best characters is Lupita. Every single character, like I said, is perfect and they're equal in terms of quality. Where it was filmed is also a great setting. I'm telling you though, 12 Years a Slave is a movie that is so sympathetic that it really will touch you and break your heart at times. The ending is something that might even make you shed a tear for this amazing man. I did. Don't you already get the gist that this movie is amazing in every aspect? You should, and if you haven't seen this film yet, I highly advise with all my mind. Like I said, it isn't an easy watch. However, that doesn't mean it isn't WORTH watching, and it is in every, single way. Expand
  22. May 3, 2014
    0
    Awful movie. Poor character development. Flat, dull, uninteresting storyline with awful timing. This movie is very much like Passion of the Christ in exploiting an audience with brutality and guilt but with slavery as the theme rather than the crucifixion. All this movie had going for it was a large cast of big names and names aren't enough to make a movie good.
  23. May 3, 2014
    5
    It only missed gas chambers and 6 million to make it a complete propaganda movie, otherwise the Hollywood concentration camps, hanging and random killings were there, however some scenes and situations are believable and the part with "Queen of the fields" make me laugh. The characters aren't that interesting, they don't evolve in any way, the slaves are there to work and the slave owners are there to make sure they work, with added violence. I guess that's what the movie offers, sex and violence, you don't feel like you watched the tragic destiny of anybody, just some hellish joyride brought to you via the magic of Hollywood. The experience of watching this movie left me not feeling like I wasted my time but also that it's not something superb. Expand
  24. May 1, 2014
    9
    An amazing journey to a era of slavery, brutality, and a sad true story of a surviver, by the hand of stunning performances, and one of the most recognised director, Steve McQueen is at his very best, but still a bit slow at some sequences.
  25. Apr 21, 2014
    9
    A great, great film about a free man who is abducted and sold into slavery. It is a very sad tale and shows how racist we used to be and how bad slavery really was. A great cast with many great acting performances. Michael Fassbenders character was crazy and he did a fantastic job with his role. A great movie deserving of the best picture Oscar this year.
  26. Apr 20, 2014
    5
    If you are a person who watches movies w/o being critical about the content you see you are probably going to be affected about 12yaSlave. For those who tend to think about what they witness this movie is most likely going to be a let-down. "Well made rubbish" is a term that descripes the movie best. Visual and audio aspects are well-thought supporting the narrative. Dialogue and acting are plausible, no complaiments there. The huge problem is the script itself. This is a movie in which every white man and woman is either a coward, villain or most often a complete psychopat. Except Brad Pitt. The producer rides in as a modern Jesus to save the day in the last minutes of the movie shattering any illusion of realism. Storyline lacks twists and situations to make the flick interesting. Basicly the main characters get flogged for few hours and thats it. New York is a paradise where every1 is happy and educated regardless of their race or backround. Just like today! Ofc this is "based on true story", but as far as i know any story is fictional interpretation of actual events. Thats why they are called stories. Historically the laws allowed atrocities of many kind but I really doubt that the people who owned the slaves could really beat them to death continuously. I mean, the slaves cost thousands of dollars to buy. Feeding and shelter costs. Why beat the workforce to death? Just makes no sense. Also, there was no indication that after the slavery-laws were eradicated the position of blacks actually got even worse, since they became regular workforce who had to provide accommadation and food by themselves.

    Anyways, those who wish to feel bad about things they have no responsibility in may enjoy this movie.
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  27. Apr 18, 2014
    10
    Small scale in its 'sweep', due to adherence to the truth of the story and a refusal to reside in the world of the sensational, the film is no less affecting as a result. Perhaps the intimacy we feel and the respect the film shows us as an audience (rare these days), its play-like nature and quieter moments are indeed its strength. I was totally unsurprised to see it win Best Film (albeit that I think American Hustle was terrific fun and magnificent film-making / acting).
    The scene towards the end... you'll know it if you have seen it.... where there was almost no sense of time nor words.. quite rightly, I have no words for. One of the great 'moments' in the history of film. The film a sa whole cannot sustain that kind of brilliance of course, but what film could? It is still a masterpiece.
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  28. Apr 12, 2014
    8
    A well taken movie. Precise, and to-the-point, although it did feel a little draggy in between. Exceptional performance by Michael Fassbender. Good performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Benedict Cumberbatch add to the essence of the movie. The movie did feel like it was already conveying a well known concept, and hence felt slightly boring. Impressive locations and cinematography gave the movie what it needed. Expand
  29. Apr 6, 2014
    3
    Well I expected it to be depressing but how many movies about slavery do we need? Plus there are so many moments where the main character is shown in deep thought and anguish... Yes we get the point he's traumatized but those moments drag on and on. It was tedious, a downer, and way too long.
  30. Apr 6, 2014
    3
    From all the good movies of 2013 that I have seen, I have a trouble to find a worse one.
    I understand how important this subject is, especially in the US, but there are other ways to popularize the abolitionism than giving the best picture prize to a mediocre movie. But maybe it's a best mean to bring an idea to the popcorn-fed audience.

    The story starts good, but later the potential
    is wasted. The movie is surprisingly shallow and predictable. Almost all tense moments are brutal scenes. And an overdose of scenes when the camera shows nothing but people starring somewhere(which I guess were meant to provoke some reflections) is just annoying.

    If there was a category "the most politically important subject", maybe this movie could take a prize, but the best picture? This is wrong, and the academy has lost once and for all its credibility. Not to mention the prize for the best actress in the supporting role.
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Metascore
97

Universal acclaim - based on 48 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 47 out of 48
  2. Negative: 0 out of 48
  1. Reviewed by: Emma Dibdin
    Jan 14, 2014
    80
    Visceral, vital and anchored by its earnest performances, this is a potent portrait of a shameful historical truth.
  2. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    Jan 6, 2014
    80
    Falling between the twin pillars of the art house and prestige period flick, 12 Years A Slave is history lesson as horror film, powerful, visceral and affecting. And after years of being great in everything, Chiwetel Ejiofor shines in a lead worthy of his immense talent.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 7, 2013
    100
    There has never been a movie like 12 Years a Slave, which is Hollywood's shame. Miss it, and that mistake is yours.