12 Things Wrong With 12 Years A Slave

21 Nov

I’m sure 12 Years A Slave is one of those movies that is going to receive all sorts of critical acclaim and win a bunch of awards because that’s what happens to any movie that deals with slavery (this also happens with any movie about World War II). The inspiring true story it is based on is certainly an important part of American History and I am not criticizing that story. I am not even saying that 12 Years A Slave is bad movie for that matter. But what else is the internet good for if not nit-picking the little details out of stuff everyone else thinks is great? So here we go, in no particular order here are 12 things wrong with the movie 12 Years A Slave.

12 Years

1.) At the beginning of the movie Solomon is lying next to a woman who he fondles and fingerbangs then she turns over and cries. What The Hell was that about? We never see her again, who was she? Why do they have that connection? There’s no context for this scene, unless it is to establish that most of the movie will be full of unexplained moments, so get used to it.

2.) The story is jumbled up with too many flashback scenes. First he’s cutting sugar cane then he’s back in New York, this technically makes almost everything for the first half of the movie a flashback. Except that also contains even more flashbacks and flash forwards, it is very distracting.

3.) It was extremely unclear how Solomon Northup a freeman became captured, one moment he’s in bed then he just wakes up in a dungeon. How did he get there? I get that he was probably drugged but show more of what the act involved.

4.) You killed Michael K. Williams a.k.a. Chalky Whilte a.k.a. Omar from The Wire. Are you crazy? Now he has a vendetta and is totally going to buss a cap in yo ass.

Spanish Moss

5.) Way too many cutaways to Spanish moss blowing in the wind. I like pretty nature shots as much as the next guy. But it is like this movie didn’t know how to segue from one story element to the next so they just added another shot of Spanish moss as a transition. Maybe they were trying to convey the passage of time or something but it became very repetitive and predictable.

6.) Benedict Cumberbatch is in this movie, I can’t stand him. If you cast him in a movie his character better die.

7.) This movie is really violent, that doesn’t bother me except for that Django Unchained was criticized for being excessively violent, and in my stupid opinion 12 Years A Slave is more violent. Every 15 minutes someone is being whipped, beaten, stripped, raped, or hung. I guess what bothers me is that these scenes are being discussed as “intense” in the media and are somehow more acceptable than similar scenes in Django Unchained which was “Gratuitously violent”. I know that’s not the movie’s fault but it needs to be said this movie is pretty violent.

8.) Solomon has to keep his literacy a secret so when he takes his only chance to escape by writing a letter. It’s a great opportunity to let the audience know how eloquent he is. A voiceover of Solomon reading that letter could convey how desperate and isolated he is. Especially when he has to burn it to avoid discovery and you show a piece of paper burring for 90 seconds wouldn’t hearing what he wrote in that letter just be heartbreaking? Missed that opportunity.

9.)  Brad Pitt is shown in the trailer, but he’s only in the movie for like 8 minutes, he deserves more screen time than that, especially since he’s responsible for Solomon regaining his freedom.

More Spanish Moss

10.) Over use of unrelated Spanish moss shots to reinforce how monotonous they are.

11.) If you would like to show the passage of time how about some establishing shots of the plantation at different times of the year; in the winter the trees are bare and there’s frost on the windows, In the spring there are new shoots in the soil. Also have Solomon age. When he reunites with his grown kids he looks exactly the same, We’ve all heard that the black don’t crack but adding some facial hair or a couple grey hairs would’ve worked fine.

12.) The end of the movie has way too much stuff to read at the end. The audience wants to know what happened to Solomon and his kidnappers for closure. But textual exposition at the end of a movie should be limited to like one or two paragraphs, not one paragraph, then another, then a third, then a whole other screen of paragraphs. I saw this movie so I wouldn’t have to read the book.

Before being judged as way too cynical I need to point out that I didn’t hate this movie and could’ve just as easily made a list of 12 reasons you should go watch 12 Years A Slave, like for the most part, the acting is suburb. But where’s the fun in that?

P.S. I know I ‘m way too cynical.

Carl Wells


3 Responses to “12 Things Wrong With 12 Years A Slave”

  1. William March 8, 2014 at 1:40 am #

    No I completely agree, the unrelated shots of nothing dragging on forever drove me up the wall. Good movie but they could have knocked off 25 minutes of bullshit.

  2. Tracy Gilmore May 29, 2017 at 10:29 pm #

    Did you mean superb? I loved this film. You asked about the first scene with the woman and what it meant. I don’t know if you realized you answered your own question . He was desperate and isolated. Benedict Is the real deal. I mean A-list. Brad Pitt as well. He had the perfect amount of screen time. What it displayed in a short amount of time was profound. That was done on purpose. How many actors could pull that off? I agree with you 100% about Micheal Williams. Love him !!!!!


  1. Stupid Oscar Predictions | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly - February 24, 2014

    […] win – TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, regardless of the problems with his movie, the true story has such a powerful emotional impact and a historical significance. Now couple that […]

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