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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
91





Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2013
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 134 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring:Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberpatch, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyong’o
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Music by: Hans Zimmer
Written by: John Ridley
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 4, 2014
"The extraordinary true story of Solomon Northrup"


Film Synopsis:


It is 1841, and Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor in a gripping performance), an accomplished, free citizen of New York, is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Stripped of his identity and deprived of all dignity, Northup is ultimately purchased by ruthless plantation owner Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender) and must find the strength within to survive. Filled with powerful performances by an astonishing cast that includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Brad Pitt and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, 12 YEARS A SLAVE is both an unflinching account of slavery in American history and a celebration of the indomitable power of hope.


My Take:


Wow. As someone that tends to be drawn to films based on real people/events I was very interested in this film especially when I started hearing all the chatter from those that had seen it. I also tend to favor feel good films which based on the subject matter here left me torn so I found excuses not to see 12 years a slave until it came to home video. The film is based on the 1853 memoir and true story of Solomon Northrup a free born black man living in upstate New York who in 1841 was kidnapped and sold into slavery where he would remain for 12 years before being rescued. The revealing of the beginning and outcome to Solomon’s abduction gives nothing away. In this case the devil lies in the details of what went on during his enslavement.

12 years a slave is a powerful film that speaks to the human condition from a perspective that we today could never understand. All we have to go on is our ability to empathize and sympathize as an onlooker looking through a window hoping that we can somehow right the atrocities and forego the suffering in favor of some kind of alternate ending for what we know has already transpired.


John Ridley’s screenplay eschews character development up front opting to introduce us to the film’s protagonist mid-stream. Through flashbacks we see Solomon’s life and family back in New York where he is an educated, respected and contributing member of his community. Over the course of the story various characters are brought into the fold, some that only have moments and others with more of a deeper part to play in his life. What makes the narrative so engaging is that all of them serve an integral role in the development of Solomon’s saga. He clearly stood out among those he was enslaved with, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by his taskmasters. Unfortunately this was more of a detriment that drew unwanted attention which resulted in retribution for “unbecoming” behavior.


While we have all seen films depicting slavery and the barbaric treatment endured by its victims, Director Steve McQueen takes us through several sequences rendered via an emphatic process that will leave you squirming in your seat. I watched it with my family and our reaction to the film was the same. We experienced a variety of emotions ranging from aghast to anger to hope to tears of joy while in between coping with the film’s superbly integrated elements of suspense and evocative melodrama which by the end left us emotionally drained. There is one scene in particular that proved quite disturbing which again speaks to the dedication of both cast/crew. The performances in 12 years a slave are simply outstanding. As an ensemble there is a genuine essence that pervades throughout that compliments the film. Chiwetel Ejiofor is amazing and gives a performance that serves as the film’s foundation. He is supported by incredibly rich turns by Michael Fassbender, Sarah Paulson and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

12 years a slave was nominated for 9 Academy Awards including Best Picture, which it deservedly took home. It’s an indelible and haunting film that will leave you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled. I honestly can’t say that I am in a hurry to watch it again but there is no denying that it is a superbly crafted and executed film that should be experienced at least once by everyone that enjoys cinema.


Parental Guide:


The rating is for violence/cruelty, some nudity and brief sexuality.



AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


Audio: 90

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:

  • *Low frequency extension (non-rated element): NA


Video: 92

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:


12 years a slave comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 34 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.


Having not seen this film theatrically I had high hopes for this video presentation and wasn’t disappointed. Images have a resplendent quality with punchy contrast and high level detail. It obvious that Director McQueen utilized varying visual characterizes which can be scene specific to capture the look he wanted. The period clothing leans more toward beige, gray and sepia tones that made many scenes appear to be less colorful. The earth toned colors found in the sweeping pans and vista views of the countryside are vivid, rich in texture and look great in high definition. Flesh tones have excellent tonal delineation, with the fairer complexions appearing just shy of ashen while remaining lifelike. The film’s dark grays, blues, greens and blacks are gradationally revealing with appreciable depth and contrast. Resolution is excellent as images have a visually satisfying and crisp dimensional quality that enhances perception in both close ups and wide angle camera pans. Sharpness is rarely called into question and any subtle variations appear innate to the photography. I found this to be a filmic presentation that yielded excellent picture quality with no signs of video related anomalies or artifacts.


This is a superlative audio presentation that features wide dynamic range built around a wonderfully balanced surround mix that sounds great. This isn’t a consistently involving surround sound mix however it offers an enriching listening experience. Clarity and detail are exemplary which reveal lots of subtle nuance in the recording. The crack of the whip and its impact on human flesh is eerily realistic. The mix of dialogue and music play an integral and central role however there are brief moments of bombast that allow this mix to flex its dynamic muscle. Bass isn’t subterranean but it definitively augments the richness and tangibility of the track’s recorded elements. The sounds of the open expanse of cotton fields or the cramped quarters of a river boat envelop the listening position with stark realism. Dialogue is crystalline with excellent intonation and descriptive character. Hans Zimmer superbly crafted music sounds smooth, incredibly refined and airy as it augments the story with an immersive and room filling quality that is noticeably involving.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) 12 years a slave: A historical portrait (two part documentary) – 41 minutes

  • (HD) The Team – 7 minute featurette

  • (HD) The Score – 4 minute featurette

  • (HD) Theatrical trailer

  • Ultraviolet Digital Copy




Final Thoughts:


Based on the 1853 memoir and true story of Solomon Northrup a free born black man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery 12 years a slave is an indelible and haunting film that will leave you thinking about it long after the credits have rolled. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring terrific high definition audio/video and a complimentary supplemental package. 12 years a slave was nominated for 9 Academy Awards and deservedly took home Best Picture. It truly is a memorable and superbly crafted/executed film that should be experienced at least once by everyone that enjoys cinema. Highly Recommended!









Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector

(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal )

Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System

Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier

Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)

Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

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I purchased this on its release date...watched it a couple of days ago and wow. It was tough to watch at times and often time I got emotionally involved. How can man be so horrible ...I'm not going to go into a lot of scenes and potentially spoil but I can tell you it is one ride. I'm still thinking about the movie...great movie and educational as well.


Nice King P ...great review !
 

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I've been waiting for your review for a while now. No idea why because I've already heard a lot of praise for the film. I guess I hold your reviews in a pretty high regard and you have no problem bringing personal feelings into your review which allows me to seperate whether a movie is subpar or great or bad but at the same time highly entertaining. I expect I will get no entertainment out of Solomon's journey or the suffering of his enslaved counterparts . The fact remains this is a highly important piece of cinema crafted with expert precision. I'm looking forward to watching it, albeit with great reluctance.


By the way, every clip I've seen suggest Chiwetel Ejiofor was robbed of major awards this year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lethean  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24459974


I've been waiting for your review for a while now. No idea why because I've already heard a lot of praise for the film. I guess I hold your reviews in a pretty high regard and you have no problem bringing personal feelings into your review which allows me to seperate whether a movie is subpar or great or bad but at the same time highly entertaining. I expect I will get no entertainment out of Solomon's journey or the suffering of his enslaved counterparts . The fact remains this is a highly important piece of cinema crafted with expert precision. I'm looking forward to watching it, albeit with great reluctance.


By the way, every clip I've seen suggest Chiwetel Ejiofor was robbed of major awards this year.

Greetings,


Thanks very much for the vote of confidence Lethean.



As for Chiwetel Ejiofor's performance it was really excellent. Having said that I also saw Dallas Buyers Club and between he and Matthew McConaughey I would say it could have gone either way.



Regards,
 

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I watched this movie at the theater and have the same thoughts about it as you Ralph!


However, I really don't know if I can watch it again..I cancelled my pre order after watching it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzalc3  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24460251


I watched this movie at the theater and have the same thoughts about it as you Ralph!


However, I really don't know if I can watch it again..I cancelled my pre order after watching it.

Greetings,


I can fully understand that viewpoint Chris..



Regards,
 

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I also watched it one time and I doubt that I will watch it again as it is too emotional.I also got very angry on certain scenes.
 

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I always like Chiwetel Ejiofor in his roles and the rest of the cast are really good, too, so with this movie winning the Oscar for best film, the blu-ray is a must buy and watch for me.


Thanks for the review, Ralph!
 

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This was one movie that I REALLY wanted to see in theaters but never got there. I really cant wait to rent this movie!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormshadow4life  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24460652


Really good film....but Hans Zimmer ripping of fhis own Inception score kept taking me out of it while watching.

Were there particular scenes that you remember being similar to Inception (relative to obviously the score)? I don't remember Inception's musical score well enough to notice a comparison, BUT there was the scene where they were being led onto the boat in Washington harbor that the modern sounding bass notes created an impact of this overwhelming state of dread. I hadn't felt like that since the Goblins score in Suspiria (esp. the scene towards the beginning of the girl running through the forest). Both scores amped up the angst for me. I know it's an odd comparison, but the music had the same affect on my listening/viewing experience
 

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Great movie but I don't understand why anyone would buy it to watch again.


This is the same with Passion of the Christ, Schindler's List, etc. All great movies, all movies that I only care to see once.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by rboster  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24463940


Were there particular scenes that you remember being similar to Inception (relative to obviously the score)? I don't remember Inception's musical score well enough to notice a comparison, BUT there was the scene where they were being led onto the boat in Washington harbor that the modern sounding bass notes created an impact of this overwhelming state of dread. I hadn't felt like that since the Goblins score in Suspiria (esp. the scene towards the beginning of the girl running through the forest). Both scores amped up the angst for me. I know it's an odd comparison, but the music had the same affect on my listening/viewing experience


This video can explain better than I could with words:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KyIaruNlP8



Obviously not exact.....but I just found them to be similar enough to distract me. I've heard people say the same thing about Captain Phillips'....but I haven't seen that movie....though I found this vid...and I agree, it's too similar
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em9_50H5Bp8


Of course there are many people that don't even notice a movie's score. But for me, it's one of the most important pieces of a dramatic work....so I might be a little more sensitive than others
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by GalvatronType_R  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24464076


Great movie but I don't understand why anyone would buy it to watch again.


This is the same with Passion of the Christ, Schindler's List, etc. All great movies, all movies that I only care to see once.

Thanks for this input. I was tempted to just do a blind-buy with this movie but it will probably be a better rent.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormshadow4life  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review#post_24460652


Really good film....but Hans Zimmer ripping of fhis own Inception score kept taking me out of it while watching.


My feeling was just the opposite. I felt the score kept me involved even at times when there was no dialogue, characters, nor strong images on-screen. I saw the film in the theater and remember thinking there must have been a strong director/composer collaboration.


Just my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franin  /t/1521716/12-years-a-slave-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review/0_20#post_24481018


Thanks for your review Ralph will finally get a chance to watch this tonight.

Greetings,


Great! I look forward to your thoughts on it Frank...




Regards,
 
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