Movie Review: 12 Years a Slave

12 years a slave

12 years 3rd masterSlavery Movies are, by definition, a hard watch, to anyone with a soul and a brain, it has to be. The marks that come is when you have to look at either the accuracy of it and the presentation. I, for example, I have seen Roots a dozen times, and if it came on, I would still watch it, but its not the type of movie I’m gonna throw in my DVD player and watch while I’m doing dishes or killing time before I go to work.
So saying you “enjoy” a Slavery movie is kinda hard to do. Even if you know going in what it all means, seeing it on the screen can be a completely different experience.
So with knowing this is not going to be a fun movie to watch, How does it work as a story, and how does it work as a film?
Spectacular on both counts. It is a visually stunning movie, and as someone who has been to those regions in South / and Central LA, it does a great job of capturing the places and people, you don’t see a wristwatch or out of period tools like on so many movies.The scenery just flows, its part of the story, but the camera is focused on the characters, and they are never far from the middle of the frame, we do miss the worst of man’s inhumanity to man, but not by much. Its amazing how much is told but not shown, and how much is shown but not so much as to make you turn away. Its almost like the film is going to make you watch every frame, and you will.12 years 1st
I do have two major, and one minor problem with the film, and I’ll go over them in the spoilers, one plot, one casting, and a small one on content.
The actors all do an AMAZING job, you see every emotion and raw nerve on the screen. You even get Chalky from Boardwalk Empire on here. That was fun to see, well, fun being the wrong word, but still.
So to sum up, I will say that most people need to see this movie, this isn’t the type of movie that you immediately have to run out and see, its not exactly a life-changing experience, and to be quite honest with you, there is little new history being revealed here that most high school students don’t know, but this is still a huge stain on American History and while I would not recommend it to a normal history class, I think it is well done enough that a college class and an advanced High School class should be watching it for discussion purposes.
So the movie is a solid 9. The only thing stopping it from a solid 10 is the rewatchability factor. Having seen it, and with the almost no new ground broken, I just can’t see a reason to watch it.  Unless I see it pretty cheap with a ton of special features.

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  1. I finally saw this movie a few days ago. I hesitate to say the word I liked it, for the same reasons you hesitate, but it is a good movie. Will I see it again? Probably not.

    Solid review.

  2. I watched Roots when it came out in 1977 and then read the book. While both were powerful, there are parts that I just can’t revisit in either. I believe the same is true about 12 Years A Slave and I just wouldn’t be able to handle it. I’m happy it got the recognition it did in winning the Oscar for Beat Picture, but I’ll give it a pass. I’d much rather watch The Autobiography Of Miss Jane Pittman again instead.

    Your reviews are always top-notch!

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