Metascore
82

Universal acclaim - based on 32 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 32
  2. Negative: 0 out of 32
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Apr 18, 2012
    88
    Marley, an ambitious and comprehensive film, does what is probably the best possible job of documenting an important life.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Apr 14, 2012
    91
    Marley was directed by the gifted Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), who shows off his chops not by doing anything dazzling - the film is documentary prose, not poetry - but by treating Marley as a man of depth and nuance, of inner light and shadow.
  3. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Apr 20, 2012
    50
    There is no diverting from strict chronology, no point the documentary wants to make that requires moving forward and back through time. It just inches ahead, one year to another, sometimes one day to another. By the middle, each time a year changes, it's a relief.
  4. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Apr 19, 2012
    90
    Marley is a detailed, finely edited character study whose theme - Marley's bid to reconcile his divided racial legacy - defined his music and his life.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 19, 2012
    80
    The director, Kevin Macdonald, searches for clarity amid the contradictions of Marley's life and reaches no conclusions, but that's a tribute to his subject's complexity in a film of fascinating too-muchness.
  6. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Apr 19, 2012
    90
    What Marley and its wonderful performance footage leave you with most of all is the joy the man took in the music that set him free and enchanted the world.
  7. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Apr 20, 2012
    75
    Marley celebrates the fact that its subject is still among us in the way that perhaps matters most: His music not only survives, it thrives.
  8. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Apr 19, 2012
    75
    You also see a man, flawed and imperfect, finding his way through with his music, constantly searching for his place in the world.
  9. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Apr 18, 2012
    78
    Most striking is Macdonald's deft use of music and Marley's lyrics (many of them obscure) to illustrate the film's points. So thoughtful is this counterpoint that it almost makes up for Macdonald never showing any one song in a complete performance.
  10. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Apr 19, 2012
    88
    It all flows from the shum. The man's musical and political influence was no illusion.
  11. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 19, 2012
    83
    It may, finally, be the best and last word on the man, his music and his myth that we ever get on film -- an estimable achievement in itself.
  12. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Apr 18, 2012
    75
    That's a lot for any film to unpack, and "The Last King Of Scotland" director Kevin MacDonald deserves a lot of credit simply for keeping the narrative coherent.
  13. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Apr 19, 2012
    90
    It is gripping from the start, not just because of the quality of the music, but because of Marley's magnetic, challenging personality, as well.
  14. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 20, 2012
    75
    Marley is thus a valuable history project but not a definitive or analytical one. For that, we await a film that's less "One Love" and more "Stir It Up."
  15. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Apr 17, 2012
    100
    The tunes, flooding every frame, remain perfect.
  16. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Apr 16, 2012
    80
    Inspiring though Marley is, however, it tends to deploy his music purely as an illustration of his life. Not once, as far as I could tell, do we watch a song being played straight through from beginning to end. [23 April 2012, p.82]
  17. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Apr 19, 2012
    85
    By the end you feel you've learned something about the man, yet his mystique emerges intact.
  18. Reviewed by: Melissa Anderson
    Apr 17, 2012
    90
    Thoroughly researched and packed with phenomenal archival footage, it's a rousing tribute to a mesmerizing performer that forgoes blind hero worship.
  19. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Apr 19, 2012
    80
    The thoughtful and leisurely paced Marley is an exemplary music documentary in almost every way - but the area in which it falls short is an important one. Like a surprisingly large number of films about musicians (whether biopic or documentary), this one is curiously resistant to letting the audience hear its subject's songs in their entirety.
  20. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Apr 22, 2012
    88
    Sprinkled with riffs, concert footage and home videos, the family-authorized documentary does what the artist usually did: When in doubt, return to the beat.
  21. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Apr 19, 2012
    78
    Stylistically unremarkable, playing it safe with structure, the film is still quietly revelatory.
  22. Reviewed by: Glenn Heath Jr.
    Apr 19, 2012
    50
    The bloat and heft of Marley's narrative scope leaves the viewer awash in a sea of historical "facts" with very little sense of the human experience behind the curtain of celebrity.
  23. Reviewed by: Andrew Pulver
    Apr 15, 2012
    80
    What results is an immensely detailed overview of Marley's life and times, from the hillside Jamaican shack where he grew up to the snowy Bavarian clinic where he spent his last weeks in a fruitless attempt to cure the cancer that killed him in 1981, aged 36.
  24. Reviewed by: Brad Wheeler
    May 17, 2012
    75
    Marley the film wonderfully explains its subject's music. As for Macdonald's message, I'm just not sure.
  25. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Apr 20, 2012
    88
    The movie has enormous force - because it's about a genius, yes, but even more so because of the intelligence, passion and wit of the people who knew Marley.
  26. Reviewed by: David Malitz
    Apr 19, 2012
    88
    Marley, the new documentary about reggae icon Bob Marley opens on April 20 - of course. That date - often referred to as 420 - has been, since the 1970s, a time for people to gather to consume or celebrate pot. It has become an unofficial marijuana holiday, and Bob Marley has become the unofficial saint of marijuana.
  27. Reviewed by: Steve Morse
    Apr 19, 2012
    75
    It's an outstanding, warts-and-all look at reggae legend Bob Marley.
  28. Reviewed by: Jim Farber
    Apr 19, 2012
    80
    Though the course of the movie, viewers learns a lot about the star's generosity, sense of justice and power in Jamaica, but also about his naivete.
  29. Reviewed by: Eve Barlow
    Apr 16, 2012
    100
    A masterful documentary to rival Macdonald's "Touching The Void."
  30. Reviewed by: Jordan Mintzer
    Apr 15, 2012
    90
    Marley is sure to become the definitive documentary on the much beloved king of reggae.
  31. Reviewed by: Guy Lodge
    Apr 15, 2012
    80
    Kevin Macdonald's generous, absorbing, family-authorized documentary on the late, still-reigning king of reggae music.
  32. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Apr 15, 2012
    80
    Every second is earned in Macdonald's long, generous and rigorously detailed Bob doc. You might wish for more live material but what's here is stirring, probing and moving.
User Score
8.8

Universal acclaim- based on 24 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 5
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 5
  3. Negative: 0 out of 5
  1. Apr 20, 2012
    7
    While the journey of getting "Marley" to theaters was complex, (copious disputes over director/producers) it's documentation of the titular figure, to the audiences' dismay, is not nearly as intricate; his life, as delineated on-screen, although captured musically through some hit-nostalgic riffs, feels unfulfilled compared to his off-screen life that saw moments of controversy--one most notably leading to the untimely end of his young life. Although such musical symbolism is effective in attemping to resurrect his name and rememberance, the film simply doesn't find a way to make him "feel" real. Instead, "Marley" is laden with incessant interviews, often back-to-back-to-back, a handful conflicting with each other, without director Kevin Macdonald making the least amount of effort to clear up the equivocation. Also seldom, are archival interviews with Bob Marley, himself. One would think the filmmakers would make it a priority to document the "man" and keep "others" documenting him to a limit. There are plenty of pictures snapped of him, and a couple clips, too, but the film primarily contains anecdotes told through the eyes of those who knew him best, most notably his children. However, the lasting image that is painted by the filmmakers in "Marley" is one that bears the scars of elongated delays in production, combating takes on creativity, and the overlying blatency of the indecent indignity that is held over it all, the film being hand-me-downed to the second highest bidder. Even more insulting, is the "4/20"--unoffically National Marijuana Day--release date that reverts back to the long-held self-concept of Marley as a ganja-smoking, marijuana mascot for all to lampoon at; it's a proscribing shame of a legacy. Not only is it a cheap gimmick from producers to get the stoner's to theaters, but more importantly, it unworthily labels a man who stood for much more than toking up and listening to reggae music; the film will be shown to millions who know little of Marley, and it is them, that need to know the "true him" most of all. Sadly to say, the film does him little justice, excluding much more than is satisfactory. Ultimately, it's still highly entertaining--leaving you with "what might have been...if...--even despite its 144 minute duration, which by its end, will supply one with a warm feeling to "jam." Full Review »
  2. Jun 22, 2012
    8
    Marley is a truly memorable documentary, and a glorious and fitting tribute not only to one of the biggest icons of reggae music but to a remarkable and fascinating man. From the very first jaw-droppingly beautiful aerial shot of Jamaica, Kevin MacDonald captivates you with his undeniable gift for documentary storytelling that really speaks to your heart. Rather than the usual dull "expert" talking heads, we watch interviews only from those who knew the subject best - his family, friends, band-mates and colourful neighbours. Bob Marley's life story is told in great depth and with incredible insight, and even the most ardent fan should come away better informed than before. I, for instance, never realised how central and domineering the Rastafarian religion was to Marley's life, nor how involved he became with political strife in South Africa and Zimbabwe. While some may accuse MacDonald of presenting an overly glamorous, rose-tinted view of Marley (he is clearly a fan), the way in which the documentary shows one of Marley's daughters talking about her father with such disdain and anger more than adequately covers his less-than-admirable personality traits. My only major criticism of the film is its running time, which is merciless. Consistently engaging though this documentary is, only the most dedicated viewer will get through the 2 hours 25 minutes unscathed. There's easily enough material here to split the story into two films, and then perhaps cover the darker elements of Marley's life in more detail. Over-long though it is, Marley remains a rewarding journey through an incredible life and wonderful music. The soundtrack, made up of Bob Marley's biggest hits in addition to some lesser-known early songs elevates the story even further, and not only allows you to re-appreciate his staggering talent, but in turn MacDonald's presentation of Marley's story allows you to glean the true meaning behind much of his songwriting. Everyone should be able to get something out of this tale of sunshine, passion and soul, but for a real fan of Bob Marley, this is essential viewing. Full Review »
  3. May 14, 2012
    9
    Oh, I though that this was the review of the singer, LOL!! Still, I watched this documentary. It is the best documentary of Bob Marley. Keep doing awesome documentary, Mangolia Pictures! Full Review »