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12 Years a Slave Review

Movies.com Critics

3.5

Dave White Profile

Beauty, meet Suffering. Now fight. Read full review

Other Critics provided by Metacritic.com

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0
    97

    out of 100

    Metascore®
    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The harrowing 12 Years a Slave is a mesmerizing period drama for the ages.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Time Richard Corliss

    A document that is raw, eloquent, horrifying and essential.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Variety Peter Debruge

    Though the film brims with memorable characters, the show ultimately belongs to Ejiofor, who upholds the character’s dignity throughout.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Movie audiences have never been presented with anything quite like the intertwined beauty and savagery of 12 Years a Slave.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    The New Yorker David Denby

    12 Years a Slave is easily the greatest feature film ever made about American slavery.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    While this is very much a McQueen picture, with visual flourishes and motifs unmistakably his, the historical urgency and staggering injustice of the events keep McQueen and company utterly honest in their approach and in their collective act of imagining Solomon Northup's odyssey to hell and back.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Todd McCarthy

    Perhaps the nature of the story is such that the film can’t help but be obvious and quite melodramatic at times, but it gets better as it goes along and builds to a moving finish.

    Read Full Review

  • See all 12 Years a Slave reviews at Metacritic.com

Fan Reviews provided by

5

12 Years a Slave by joycehannula
This is a powerful story of a free man who is captured and sold into slavery. He is moved from owner to owner, some more just than others. Beautifully filmed. I saw it last night and have thought about it several times already today.

5

Absolutley is movie of the year ! by baileybar
Heart wrenching and emotional this absolutely deserved the Oscar for movie of the year. The acting was superb by all the actors. Hard to watch, but a history lesson for all of us.

5

One of the Best Movie I have seen in a long time. by smssh2012
This movie made me cry, it made me mad and it made me appreciate my freedom. I cannot imagine the pain these people went through. This movie will hit you real hard. I absolutely loved it and will buy it when it comes on DVD. I heard people sobbing in the theater because some of the scenes are really raw. People were literally sitting at the edge of their seats. I was wiping my tears throughout the movie. This movie is depressing but it's very important for us to know what our ancestors went through to give us the life we have today.

5

This is what cinema was made for by cazzamccarthy
Perhaps one of the best movies of all time. Powerful, unnerving and intense. The performances are amazing. If you see one film this year it should be this one.

5

Best Film of the Year? YES! by itneverrains
It is truly heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. But one of the best "team" effort films to ever come out of Hollywood. No detail is overlooked in bringing this horrible time in American history to life. This is an important story to tell, and re-tell, for generations to come. We must not ever forget. As a film, it is beautifully shot and extremely well-acted. It is disturbing in its graphic content, but every scene is key to telling this story. This is a must-see movie.

5

Thoughtful Movie by mcrosby57
The movies was through provoking. Rich in scenery and costume detail. Graphically violent when it came to whippings. I was let to wonder how Solomon shaved when he was kidnapped and still in Washington, D.C. before being sold in the south. I found it rather distracting that he was always clean shaven with neatly trimmed hair when he was stuck in a dungeon, stuck on a ship, or working the cotton fields. All those slave drivers must have spent a lot of time playing barber and hairdresser! Solomon usually didn't even have a 5 o'clock shadow!

4

Good Movie by jake22334455
The movie was kind of sad, but a good film to watch about history. It had an interesting ending as well. I would recommend this movie to individuals that don't mind some violence, but want a good story about a part of American history. Its kind of sad, but I should say at least 1.75 Thumbs up!

4

Disturbed by drkimyoo
Since I haven't read the book I am not sure how close this movie is to the actual story, however I was disappointed in the lack of "storytelling" regarding emotion of the main character with the exception of sadness and frustration. It is left to the imagination whether or not or to what degree he felt love, compassion, hate, desperation, etc. and what it was in his life that he valued most. Did he miss his wife? Did he suffer over his inability to help others? Did he consider murder? Did he plan escape daily or just the times we saw in the film? The story as a whole depicts how sadly easy it is to program the human mind into believing something so wrong is acceptable. We hope that we have an innate sense of right and wrong, but unfortunately that may be false. It sickens me that there is such wickedness and that a human being could do such things to another human being. But that is the true value of the story and the very valuable lesson we hopefully have learned...

4

Good Story, Well Told by rusciano
This is a compelling story, and is well acted and directed. If you wish to see the horrors of slavery first-hand, it is perfect for that. In the end, however, it is almost anti-climactic, as one knows how it has to conclude. Worth seeing, but I'm not sure it was Best Picture of the Year.

5

A "MUST SEE" MOVIE BASED ON A TRUE STORY by anitaml921
My husband and I enjoyed the movie. Although quite brutal at times, the movie still depicts what happened back in the 1800's. It's a piece of history that all viewers should be aware of. The movie evokes a lot of passion onto viewers because of the many injustices brought forth in the movie.

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