12 Years a Slave - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

12 Years a Slave Reviews

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Top Critic
Scott Marks
San Diego Reader
January 13, 2015
In its own saintly manner, it's as exploitative as anything critics accused Django Unchained of being, minus Tarantino's eye for idiosyncrasy and sense of humor.
Full Review | Original Score: 1/5
Padraic McKiernan
Sunday Independent (Ireland)
March 11, 2016
12 Years a Slave? It feels much longer.
Vincent Mancini
October 18, 2013
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.
Full Review | Original Score: C-
Kirk Honeycutt
October 17, 2013
Other than a few exceptional moments, McQueen's movie doesn't say much about the human spirit.
Full Review | Original Score: 5
Bruce Bennett
Spectrum (St. George, Utah)
January 31, 2014
Generally more concerned with making its audience wince than with forging an indelible imprint on the soul.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Cole Smithey
October 14, 2013
[VIDEO ESSAY] If Steve McQueen would fully commit to his calling as an exploitation director, he might eventually achieve his desired effects through that more direct approach.
Full Review | Original Score: D-
Jake Wilson
The Age (Australia)
January 13, 2015
A film that, despite its surface simplicity, proves to be riven with contradictions to the point of incoherence.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
Donald J. Levit
ReelTalk Movie Reviews
October 21, 2013
Apart from caricatures-as-characters reasons, the cinematography in '12 Years a Slave' is over-prettified and distracting.
Adam Nayman
Reverse Shot
September 13, 2013
There are powerful moments in 12 Years a Slave, but they tend to happen on the margins of the action.
Ed Gonzalez
Slant Magazine
September 14, 2013
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.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
Gerald Peary
Arts Fuse
November 17, 2013
A decent film, but hardly the breakthrough anti-slavery masterpiece many have claimed. It's difficult to stay in the brutal reality with A-list movie stars around every bend.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5 stars
Top Critic
Stephanie Zacharek
Village Voice
October 16, 2013
Aside from a characteristically nuanced lead performance by Chiwetel Ejiofor... it's a picture that stays more than a few safe steps away from anything so dangerous as raw feeling.
Louis Proyect
December 22, 2013
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".
Kaori Shoji
Japan Times
June 13, 2016
There's real rage in this film, the type that can never be assuaged by time or blunted by forgiveness.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Mark Jackson
Epoch Times
June 7, 2016
See this film. Pay homage to the healing truth. A landmark film; would that it could reduce the lag time between genocides and our real-time grasp of their horrifying reality.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
J. Olson
April 8, 2016
The end result, while uneven, is appropriately stark, mournful, and gripping, making a deep impression on the landscape of American history on film.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Molly Laich
Missoula Independent
February 23, 2016
12 Years a Slave is an expertly crafted, eerily beautiful film with a clear message and a lot of violence.
Alfred Joyner
International Business Times
February 24, 2016
It's a difficult watch, but I heartily recommend you go see 12 Years a Slave, one of the best and most important films you'll see all year.
Dan Casey
January 13, 2015
Plain and simple, 12 Years A Slave is a modern day masterpiece.
Mark Hughes
August 4, 2014
Driven by the best performances of the year, bold directing, and a compelling true story that reminds us of our nation's shameful, inhumane past, it is a film destined to enjoy a reputation as one of the greatest films ever produced about slavery.
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