User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 307 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 25 out of 307
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  1. Dec 30, 2013
    3
    This film is Pander. Period.
    Basically, it starts and ends without questioning death penalty. Death penalty is barbaric for MY culture, and the behavior of the characters never seems realistic to me. The horrible system behind death row is depicted in a mitigate, sweetened way. There's no room for compassion in death penalty as shown in the film, and this film is basically offensive
    This film is Pander. Period.
    Basically, it starts and ends without questioning death penalty. Death penalty is barbaric for MY culture, and the behavior of the characters never seems realistic to me. The horrible system behind death row is depicted in a mitigate, sweetened way. There's no room for compassion in death penalty as shown in the film, and this film is basically offensive solely for the way the characters are behaving.
    Second: nothing is believable. Clearly is a fantasy drama, but still as the stereotyped characters (bad people are bad without a reason, they are simply mad. Good people are in fact not really good, but seam dumb and ataraxic, resulting in unlovable characters). The main character is basically a scary black giant who cries all the time. Very easy way to provoke reactions in the viewer is to show him something which he's unconsciously scared off while enforcing this unconscious fear with clever direction. Incidentally this unconscious fear is based on a black stupid strong man stereotype overlapped by the boogeyman figure. I'm a caucasian european man and i find this VERY offensive.
    The whole story, in the end, is based on emotional tricks. (the *spoiler* bad death scene is traumatic and unnecessary, at least as it is shown). Giving strong emotions to people based on meaningless story or characters is a cheat.
    This film is bad. I couldn't expect this since the reviews are so high. But i found this film ruffian, manipulative and ultimately ugly.
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  2. [Anonymous]
    Aug 14, 2004
    3
    This movie was a scrap between brilliant casting, acting and setting fighting vainly against an over-streched script. Did anyone else notice that the ONLY black person in the movie was sadly stereotypical? The worst part was the overuse of forshadowing; every major plot twist was forewarned as clear as day. This matter was aggrevated by a distinct last of expediency. It seems like the This movie was a scrap between brilliant casting, acting and setting fighting vainly against an over-streched script. Did anyone else notice that the ONLY black person in the movie was sadly stereotypical? The worst part was the overuse of forshadowing; every major plot twist was forewarned as clear as day. This matter was aggrevated by a distinct last of expediency. It seems like the movie was stretched out to capture details of the book- next time, try and make your movie engrossing instead of accurate. Expand
  3. ErwinK.
    Mar 6, 2005
    4
    This movie goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on for three torterous hours. While it isn't terrible, it is so damn slow and ponderous that it looks like it hasn't even been edited at all. It has some nice performances in it.... expecially the convicts, although what is it with these sensitive new age guards? You'd think that they were hari This movie goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on for three torterous hours. While it isn't terrible, it is so damn slow and ponderous that it looks like it hasn't even been edited at all. It has some nice performances in it.... expecially the convicts, although what is it with these sensitive new age guards? You'd think that they were hari krishnas. The ending is like 'yeah whatever'.... I didn't want to wade through three hours to get to such a pasty ending. Shawshank left me with tears in my eyes - but this just made me groan. Too cute, too long... just goes on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on.... Expand
Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 19 out of 36
  2. Negative: 2 out of 36
  1. 65
    This jailhouse jam is quite a haul.
  2. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    75
    There's almost too much there, but the three-hour-plus film permits the kind of detailing that not only brings the storytelling to life, but sometimes persuades us we're breathing to its rhythms.
  3. Its view of spiritual healing is closer to Spielberg fantasy than religious insight. Still, its good acting and good intentions will be enough to please many viewers.