Monday, November 18, 2013

12 Years A Slave Review: A Tense Journey and Reflection

Seeing that nothing new came out this week (I guess that's what happens when Martin Scorsese decides not to release his newest film), I decided to check out 12 Years A Slave. I've heard a lot about this in the past few months, but I didn't think I was going to get time to see it. In any case, this historic drama centers on the true events of Solomon Northup, a free African American who was kidnapped and put into slavery. So far, the film has received an assortment of good reviews, but what did I think of this drama?

When I walked into the theater, I figured the story would be nothing new. When you've seen one movie about slavery, you've seen them all. However, I was surprised by the overall story. What was so intriguing about the 12 Years A Slave's plot was its layers. This story didn't feel like your casual slave story. I believe 12 Years A Slave captured the conflict that was caused by slavery and how it affected everyone. Through its wonderful dialogue. this historical drama had an interesting plot from beginning to end.

I forgot how many stars were featured in this film. First things first, I have to take my hat off to Chitwetel Ejefor for his terrific performance as Solomon Northup. His interpretation of the wrongfully accused slave showed the determination of the man as he fought to survive. As for the rest of the cast, well I'll say this much: when your supporting cast has Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Paul Giamatti, it's a win in my book.  The surprises in the supporting cast came from Fassbender and Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch played a different kind of slave owner showing that some owners looked at their workers as that just that, workers. Fassbender on the other hand played your casual racist slave owner. Through his charisma and his ability to play a character, Fassbender gave us a slave owner that moviegoers won't soon forget ( well aside from DiCaprio's Calvin Candie).

I thought Steve McQueen's direction for this film was great, however I had one issue. I found some of the film's edits to be questionable. It's not that the transitions were bad; but maybe they were too long. There was a moment where Solomon is standing in the woods. There was no reason for it, he was standing there looking into the camera and that's it. Aside from having a staring contest with Chitewel, I didn't see the point of the scene. I don't think these scene were bad, but I do think McQueen was trying to be too artistic with his execution.

I was really expecting this movie to be gruesome. According to the early buzz, there was suppose to be brutality in 12 Years A Slave; which in hindsight was expected. Much to my surprise, the movie's brutality seemed tamed. Oh sure, there was violent scenes, but there wasn't anything too gruesome to watch. Well there was a detailed whipping scene, but even that could be stomach.

12 Years A Slave was surprising. It may look like another movie on slavery, but Steve McQueen does a great job at creating a defining historic film. This "based on true event" tale is one that you will not forget.