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West of Memphis (2012)

tomatometer

89

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Critic Reviews: 27
Fresh: 24 | Rotten: 3

No consensus yet.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 8,167

My Rating

Movie Info

From director Amy Berg, in collaboration with first time Producers Damien Echols and Lorri Davis along with filmmakers Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh comes West of Memphis, a powerful examination of a catastrophic failure of justice in Arkansas. The documentary tells the hitherto unknown story behind an extraordinary and desperate fight to bring the truth to light. Told and made by those who lived it, Berg's unprecedented access to the inner workings of the defense, allows the film to show the

R,

Documentary

Amy Berg

Aug 6, 2013

$0.3M

Sony Pictures Classics - Official Site External Icon

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Latest News on West of Memphis

July 31, 2013:
Digital Multiplex: West of Memphis and Transformers: Dark of the Moon
This week lacks real "oomph" in the new release department, aside from a highly acclaimed...
December 25, 2012:
Five Favorite Films with West Memphis Three's Damien Echols
It's hard to imagine just how surreal Damien Echols' life must have been. In 1994, the teenager was...

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All Critics (111) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (106) | Rotten (5)

It's not a new story, true, but "West of Memphis" makes it both extremely personal and universally painful.

April 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
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We feel like we're watching an overlong true-crime television episode and not a movie.

March 21, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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A real-life horror story, made no less shocking by the familiarity of its early scenes.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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While the "Paradise Lost" films captured events as they unfolded in the heat of battle, "West of Memphis" has the luxury of at least partial closure.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Globe
Boston Globe
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A true-crime story that begins with a notorious murder case and grows into a chilling indictment of the American justice system.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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And justice for all? Hardly.

February 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A documentary that distills 19 years of a witch hunt, a grass roots movement, lost leads, confusion, countless appeals, and hope into one remarkable movie that is hellbent on setting the record straight.

August 9, 2013 Full Review Source: Scene-Stealers.com
Scene-Stealers.com

It effectively condenses what took the 'Paradise Lost' films nearly eight hours to reveal into a tight, snappy 149 minutes that affords you everything you need to know about the West Memphis Three.

May 13, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

It's another case where, instead of a prosecution having to prove a case, a defendant has to choose the lesser of two evils. "This happens all the time," defendant Damien Echols says of the whole process, and he's right.

May 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

A sobering look at how the wheels of justice can be -- and are -- manipulated by political expediency and a small town's tendrils of the old boy network

April 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

The film is so utterly transfixing you won't believe almost two-and-a-half hours have passed when the final credits roll.

March 29, 2013 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

I would have preferred Jackson's clinically-presented project display a bit more reverence for the three young lives that were brutally taken some twenty years ago.

March 18, 2013 Full Review Source: NECN

Moving and gruesome, West of Memphis is an eloquent disquisition on the banality of evil.

March 15, 2013 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

"West of Memphis" re-examines evidence and retells the story in a methodical and procedural fashion in which even the false steps lead somewhere.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

More a recap and appendix to the Paradise Lost trilogy... one can't help but feel that the celebrities involved needed this document of their efforts to appease their vanity.

March 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Metro Times (Detroit, MI)
Metro Times (Detroit, MI)

The case is more intriguing than the film about it.

March 13, 2013 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Isn't unnecessary, but it's often superfluous.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Blu-ray.com
Blu-ray.com

The film suggests these powerless, poorly educated young men were scapegoated because they would be missed by nobody of importance -- the justice system equivalent of the cannon fodder recruited from the same socioeconomic straits.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

It's nice to have all the twists and turns of the iconic case contained tidily in one well-crafted film, although there are no real revelations here.

March 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune

"West of Memphis" becomes a greatest-hits concert of prosecutorial misconduct, and you'll agree when the film asserts that prosecutors knew they had the wrong guys.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Incredibly, after three documentaries on the subject, there are still things to reveal about the West Memphis Three.

March 7, 2013 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Audience Reviews for West of Memphis

Oddly enough, Mr. Bojangles is spared of any footage whatsoever!! Leans the guilt on Terry Hobbs as Paradise Lost 2 did to Mark Byers. Offers nothing deep, instead only Depp.
July 9, 2014
imrealgod

Super Reviewer

The Paradise Lost films are some of the most important documentaries ever made and should be seen by all. West of Memphis isn't as redundant as I thought it might be with that in mind. It's good to see an overall telling of accounts and seeing as Peter Jackson has been so actively involved in the case, it's fair enough that he should produce his own movie, along with the brilliant documentary maker Amy Berg. There are bits of information involving the case that are not mentioned in the Paradise Lost films, being made slightly later than Paradise Lost III there are pieces of new evidence and theories too. We know about the murders and we know the WM3 didn't commit them, West of Memphis concentrates on the fact at hand that the person who did do it, and we all have our suspicions, is still in society and the law is not looking for them. It's so much more than a film about a murder though, this questions societies lack of rational thought, judgement based on lies, corruption and good old ignorance. It terrifying stuff and needs to be seen and discussed. I've looked on a few threads and it amazes me that so many people have missed the point of all four of the documentaries and still think the WM3 did it! Like I said, terrifying stuff!
March 18, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

An absolutely devastating documentary concerning three eight-year old boys killed in Arkansas in 1993, and how the judicial system pushed ahead on guilty verdicts for three teenage boys despite having no concrete evidence whatsoever, bullying their way to the decision they wanted all along. When new evidence is presented and a new suspect emerges out from amongst the dark shadows of the wooded area behind a trailer park where these murders took place, the case is examined more carefully as these now three young men wait for freedom. This is a powerful, monumental picture in the vein of "The Thin Blue Line" in how it effectively shows how the case was so horribly mishandled, then presenting a viable suspect who appears to be the likely killer who is allowed to walk free. The viewer should be left angry, shaken, and moved by this picture, with an ending that is not totally satisfying given the disturbing aspects the case leaves wide open despite having all the evidence it needs to send the real killer to jail. This is not a film that will leave you quickly, as once again the viewer should be left questioning the judicial system in this country and just how corrupt it remains to this day.
September 24, 2013
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

A compelling documentary that gives a full look at the story of the West Memphis 3. As with the other documentary films about the subject I must warn you that it's not for the faint of heart. It deals with the murders of three young boys and crime scene photos are shown and they are graphic.
The bulk of the focus of this film in particular is on the innocence of the three young men accused and jailed for the crime. We take a look at the whole case and where it went very wrong from the beginning. It's a chilling tale of a witch hunt that landed these teens in prison for nearly two decades.
I highly recommend if you liked the work done in the Paradise Lost series of documentary films that brought world wide attention to this case.
March 27, 2013
superclerk25

Super Reviewer

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