The Tomatometer rating – based on the published opinions of hundreds of film and television critics – is a trusted measurement of movie and TV programming quality for millions of moviegoers. It represents the percentage of professional critic reviews that are positive for a given film or television show.
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The Tomatometer is 60% or higher.
The Tomatometer is 59% or lower.
Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Percentage of users who rate a movie or TV show positively.
There's a difference between an "unflinching" look at something and an unflinching look at a person desperately trying to project "unflinching." 12 Years is often upsetting for all the wrong reasons. It relegates atrocities to the level of camera tricks.
Steve McQueen's impersonal approach to his subject matter isn't solely to blame for the failure of 12 Years a Slave, a safely anecdotal mosaic closer in spirit to Edward P. Jones's The Known World than to Toni Morrison's radically constructed Beloved.
Two hours of torture and degradation were done much better in "Saw" or "Hostel". This is not a Major Statement about slavery but one about a visual artist's preoccupation with pain--just like his misbegotten "Hunger".
12 Years a Slave is a story that shows, efficiently and clearly, how institutionalized bigotry is a thing that affects everyone, even those who don't want to take part; how it strips out the possibility of kindness and erodes compassion.
A definite must see and a film that is and should be rewarded for the work of its' director and actors bravery in making it. It will haunt you for days afterwards and ponder the cost of slavery both past and present on us all.