The Stanford Prison Experiment - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Stanford Prison Experiment Reviews

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February 13, 2019
WOW. this is SO incredibly interesting & also very very sad. makes me feel even more awful about humans than i already felt. but SO incredibly interesting. i've heard of this study before & i actually own The Lucifer Effect i just haven't read it yet... i picked it up from a garage sale a while ago & because i don't normally read synopses i didn't realize that it was based on this experiment. will definitely be reading that ASAP.
February 8, 2019
Strengths: The concept of this film and the real experiment it is based on is fascinating. You can‚(TM)t help but get sucked in watching these characters either fold under the pressure or let the power go to their head. There are some great performances here. Ezra Miller (Daniel Culp) gets a lot of shine early of as the main prisoner given focus. Tye Sheridan (Peter Mitchell) also shines in this position. It‚(TM)s so intriguing because you feel like they‚(TM)re kind of pathetic for cracking without a ton fo bad happening to them, yet also feel sympathy because they aren‚(TM)t real prisoners and shouldn‚(TM)t be subjected to this. Billy Crudup (Dr. Phillip Zimbardo), Nelsan Ellis (Jesse Fletcher), Gaius Charles (Paul Vogel), Miles Heizer (Marshall Lovett) and Logan Miller (Jerry Sherman) are all good in their roles. Michael Angarano (Christopher Archer) is probably the standout as the awful guard taking things too far. The atmosphere set throughout is dark and uneasy. There are many scenes that are uncomfortable to watch in the best possible way.

Weaknesses: Olivia Thirlby (Dr. Christina Maslach) is one of the best things about the movie. She‚(TM)s in the weakness section because the movie needed to use her more. Even if she wasn‚(TM)t there for the real events, you can alter things for a movie retelling so it‚(TM)s not a straight documentary. Having her around more would‚(TM)ve made for more intriguing moments between her and Zimbardo. It‚(TM)s hard to put my finger on what it is exactly, but this movie was missing something. It executes a ton very well and doesn‚(TM)t do a lot poorly, but it also doesn‚(TM)t fully click for some reason as something truly special.

Overall: Everything is well done in this movie, from the acting to the atmosphere. It‚(TM)s one of the better films of 2015, but it was missing an ‚it‚? factor to put it in contention for the best.
½ January 25, 2019
I remember learning about "The Stanford Prison Experiment" in one of my psychology classes in college. I remember being both disturbed yet intrigued by it. This film is a chilling and disturbing retelling of this experiment. The film creates a tension-filled atmosphere in which anything could happen and is a glimpse into what everyday people are capable of. It is definitely a tough film to watch and it's definitely not one anyone should go into with a casual mindset but I think it is very well-made and grippingly acted. The film made me go back and watch videos and read articles online to look up how accurate this movie is, and the scariest part about the whole thing is that it is a very accurate portrayal of the actual events. The movie is unsettling and is not one I will soon forget.
½ December 23, 2018
This is possible the worst film I have ever seen. 2 hours of my life completely wasted that I will never get back. Suspense ? More like absolute shit. Nothing happened throughout this whole film, I expected some sort of huge twist at the end? Yet nothing happened ? The experiment was just "called off". What a complete waste of time. No one should watch this film. Ever.
December 2, 2018
Watchable but could have been a bit better!
December 2, 2018
Amazingly hard to watch
December 1, 2018
For me, this movie just lacked the "it" factor. I think the movie did all it could possibly do, and did it well, but simply lacked the freedom to make it more dramatic. By being so true to real events, the movie lacks the extra drama and magic that could reel viewers in even more. There is nothing wrong with the movie by any means, do not get me wrong. It's an excellent re-telling of the events, but lacks the magic that could draw audiences in a little more.
½ November 11, 2018
A psychologically challenging movie, for sure. The fact that this flick is based on a very true experiment just gives it a much more unnerving and awful feeling to it. And it's also supported by very strong and devout performances by Billy Crudup and Michael Angarano, among others. It's a slow-burning pic, but the constant psychological abuse actually makes this a little uneasy to watch, and it will stick to you for a while. But overall, this is a well made illustration of an experiment gone wrong. Recommended!!
November 5, 2018
Although I've since changed careers rather significantly, I am a theater graduate and spent years working in theater. My strongest feeling while watching STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT was "this could easily have been a play rather than a movie and it would have been 10x more powerful." It is already a story mostly confined to a tiny area, and it features almost nothing in the way of cinematic artistry. The acting, while often good, is mostly pitched at a slightly exaggerated level that would work much better on stage. The dialogue is a bit "stagey" too. And things like cinematography are uninspiring and unrevealing.

BUT, it isn't a's a low-budget movie with an interesting cast, an interesting story and a deep, deep need for an editor. The film runs just over 2 hours, and should EASILY have come in at 90 minutes. In case you don't know, this is a true story, about a 1971 "experiment" conducted by a Stanford research psychologist in 1971. He hired a bunch of students (at $15 per day) to take on the role of either prisoner or guard. Other than telling the guards they couldn't physically hurt anyone...they could pretty much do what they wanted. The scariest thing the experiment teaches is not that under these circumstances, the guards might be come cruel and the prisoners terrified and dehumanized. It's HOW FAST it all happens. The movie also shows what a horribly conceived experiment it was, and how terribly the psychologist and his colleagues got sucked into playing their own "roles" in this scenario. It's pretty amazing that people didn't go to jail and the looney bin for this little game.

The young men are played by a wide variety of interesting actors such as the always good Tye Sheridan (MUD) and the fascinating Ezra Miller (WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN). Miller is a pretty compelling and interesting film actor, but in this project, he's just a bit over the top. His character's arc is clumsily written, granted, but he could have overcome this better. He's a great example of what I said above...if this same performance were transported to a theatre with an audience of about 900, it would be thrilling. Here, where we can see him up close, it's just a bit too much. Billy Crudup, as the shrink, perhaps fares best of all because he doesn't forget that in film, less is often more. He does a convincing job portraying a man who fools himself into thinking his "game" is advancing human knowledge in a useful way, and not just destroying the psyches of all involved.

It's not a FUN movie to watch...and many of the scenes of tormenting the prisoners drag on too long or are too repetitive. It's as though the director and writer thought they had to make their point over and over and over. It just became a bit mundane. (Perhaps that was the point...but what it really did was kind of grind the momentum to a halt after the film gets of to a brisk start.) This is worth seeing, but it's also not the earth-shattering revelation it wants to be.
½ October 19, 2018
The film really replicated the brutal atmosphere of the sick experiment to the point early on that you would want it to end but there's an uncovered sadistic force keeping it going as full overdone commitment in demonstrating the ugly revelation of what power could do to the oppressed in short psychological effect. Revisiting the relevant conclusion that speaks in volume towards oppression is worthwhile, particularly when the weight of realization hits you at the end to be shocked, but the journey to reach towards those noteworthy conclusions is rather unhealthy like a mental scar. (B)

(Full review TBD)
August 23, 2018
Always been fascinated by this experiment. Used as the basis for other shows like big brother uk to make good tv. I just wonder how accurate it all was.
August 10, 2018
One of the best movies i have ever watched.
½ August 3, 2018
At times thought-provoking and disturbing at others, this film takes the true-life events of Dr. Zimbardo's research and showcases some of the most chilling and troubling moments that took place in a fake prison ward forty years ago.
½ July 15, 2018
The experiment itself is pretty well known, popping up all over the place in books, but seeing it reenacted so convincingly is gripping and unsettling. The film sags a bit in the middle but is definitely worth watching.
July 11, 2018
Chilling, accurate and authentic, The Stanford Prison Experiment is the perfect didactic work to show what can happen when scholarly ambition goes too far.
½ July 3, 2018
Lacking in solid character development, the film plays out more as a documentary than an emotionally intricate film.
July 3, 2018
When I was in university, I took a Psychology course. During this course I learned about the Stanford Prison Experiment and it caused me to rethink how I saw experiments. I even did a paper on how this changed me and how it changed the world. When I learned that they were doing a movie based on the experiment and that the original proprietor of the experiment would be working alongside the filmmakers and the script writers, I was all in. When it came to watching the film, it became very clear to me that simply reading about what happened and seeing brief pictures of the hallway did not prepare me for how actors would portray these various characters and just how far they would go in their portrayal of the abuses and the squalor suffered by those involved. This is not a movie for the faint of heart as it is unapologetic about how it treats the prisoners and how it shows the deterioration of the morals of the guards. Despite knowing from experience with the source material many of the things that were gonna happen, it still shocked me when they happened due to the great acting and superb film making. Any person that wants to take Psychology in a post-secondary capacity or wish to obtain a job in a correctional facility, this movie is a great way to prepare yourself for what you will see in both instances.
½ June 21, 2018
The acting talent keeps this repetitive film afloat.
June 3, 2018
One-note-story, but an interesting and well acted one.
April 7, 2018
Amazing yes watch. Real life experiment. True story.
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