12 Years a Slave Directed by: Steve McQueen Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch Rating: R Release Date: October 18, 2013
Trailer Score: 8/10
Thoughts by TSR: This trailer for 12 Years a Slave looks a bit more conventional than I would have expected from Steve McQueen, but that is by no means a major knock against its quality. For one thing, I suspect a lot of it is simply an effort to cut a trailer for the masses. All things considered, I'd say that's a smart play as I expect McQueen will tackle this harrowing tale head on. Another thing that plays into it is the use of Hans Zimmer's score for The Thin Red Line. I like Zimmer's work a lot, but it would have been nice to hear something original. (I'm less critical of the use of Zimmer's Inception score that begins things.) Still, the use of Zimmer's old work fits quite well throughout, and overall this is still a very good first impression.
I've read Solomon Northup's incredible narrative (available here), so this has been high on my most anticipated list for quite some time. Indeed, Chiwetel Ejiofor ranked second on my list of most anticipated performances of 2013. As expected, Ejiofor looks terrific as the free man who finds himself sold into slavery. Brief appearances by the likes of Brad Pitt, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Alfre Woodard, Sarah Paulson, Taran Killam, Scoot McNairy, and Benedict Cumberbatch make this an ensemble worth being excited about. Truthfully, though, the trailer belongs to Mr. Michael Fassbender. Having read the source material, it was obvious that brutal slave owner Edwin Epps would be a meaty role. Fassbender sells every despicable line and is frighteningly believable. The craft work is all top notch as well, from Sean Bobbitt's cinematography to Patricia Norris' costumes.
All in all, a strong first look at a film I suspect we'll be hearing a lot about throughout the final months of 2013.