12 Years a Slave - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

12 Years a Slave Reviews

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February 21, 2018
This isn't a film about oppression, it is a luscious meditation on sadism and cruelty.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/5
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
March 11, 2016
12 Years a Slave? It feels much longer.
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-
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
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+
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-
February 26, 2017
It is this film's unfortunate paradox that a story with so much at stake, rendered in what could only be good faith, should translate to so little.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/5
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
October 21, 2013
Apart from caricatures-as-characters reasons, the cinematography in '12 Years a Slave' is over-prettified and distracting.
September 13, 2013
There are powerful moments in 12 Years a Slave, but they tend to happen on the margins of the action.
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
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
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.
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".
February 28, 2018
John Ridley's versatile script locates Northup as a character of an involuntary double identity, which comes, in terrible comparison, from a privileged origin lost suddenly, in a country of dehumanizing hierarchies... [Full review in Spanish]
February 27, 2018
McQueen packs his film with so much identifiable humanity you'll leave sore. Watching 12 Years is a grueling experience, and the artistry of the filmmakers and actors is a generous, pain-diminishing life raft.
October 20, 2017
Short of actual time travel, 12 Years a Slave is, to date, our best opportunity to bear witness to our inescapable history.
February 1, 2018
McQueen's 12 Years a Slave, a rich and distinctly faithful adaptation of Northup's experiences, begs us to continue this conversation by offering an artful and critical reflection on our past, present and future as a nation.
Full Review | Original Score: A
January 26, 2018
Capturing the harsh realities of the era, the film is extremely powerful and should be considered essential viewing for everyone.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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