12 Years a Slave – 4 out of 5
Until this film came out, I had never heard of Solomon Northup or his memoirs about his hell he went through in 1841. The man’s story is heartbreaking and powerful and, for the most part, the film and director Steve McQueen (seriously, how lucky is he to share his name with the late star of Bullitt? It’s just as cool as how I share my name with Ron Swanson from Parks & Rec.) did a fantastic job of hitting all that power and emotion. However, and I know this is a very unpopular opinion, I can’t help but feel the film is overrated. Now, before you rush to comment and call me a racist, read my reasons why I feel this movie is good but not great.
|Don't get mad, Ejiofor...let me explain.|
|Looking at this picture makes me want to whistle "The Farmer|
in the Dell." Fans of The Wire know what I'm
|And after he's set free, so were the tears from behind my eyes.|
12 Years a Slave tells an amazing story and the cast it’s awesome. Chiwetel Ejiofor is fantastic as Solomon Northup and you really feel the utter hopelessness he has given into and he is backed up by a great performance from Michael Fassbender who really provides a tremendous antagonist for the story. It’s a powerful and emotional tale and I’m not afraid to admit that I cried at the end when Northup got to see his family again…but, like I stated in the first paragraph, I can’t help but feel this movie is highly overrated. While it’s a good movie, there were a lot of elements that kept it from being as epic as I heard it was and definitely kept it from being the Best Picture film that the Academy presented it as.
|I have no reason to include this still of Fassbender beyond the fact it makes me smile.|
|Hey look, it's Paul Dano...and he's gone a scene later.|
|Seriously, it didn't feel like 12 years.|
|It's like these two had ten minutes to kill so they|
decided to be in the movie.
|"Seriously, guys, this movie is a sure thing! Let's get everybody in on this."|
I love the story of 12 Years a Slave and the film is an uncompromising look at the horrors of slavery and the dark times our nation went through. The performances are amazing (even if there wasn’t a need for all the big names) and the film definitely strikes a chord…but I couldn’t help but think it could have been better. I acknowledge that they film was suppose to be entirely centered around Northup but I can’t help but think that the emotional imprint the film left could have been even larger if we got to see how his family was coping with his sudden disappearance or the frantic search for him. Without these elements, the film just felt like it wasn’t done and it kept the movie from being something truly amazing for me and it, ultimately, made a potentially great film into nothing more than a passably good one.