While historical dramas are not usually my favorite type of film to watch, I decided to see this one as a token to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I came away with mixed opinions. Possibly the most compelling aspect of the movie was that David Oyelowo gave an extremely convincing performance of Martin Luther King Jr. Oyelowo had an excellent cadence and power behind his speech that near perfectly matched the recorded speeches I have seen of King himself. Sadly, I believe that his performance overshadowed the rest of the characters in the movie. In the film many of King's compatriots were meant to act in supporting and guiding factors for King; however their lack of character development and importance left me yearning for more.
The most attention grabbing scene in this movie has to, by far, be the opening. The film opens with a group of small African American children walking down the stairs in a church after a Sunday School class. The tone is quickly set as relaxed and slightly playful; however the scene erupts into chaos as the side of the church unexpectedly explodes. There were no hints towards this race crime happening, making it unexpected and slightly frightening. Known as the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing this violent change of pace caught me by surprise and grabbed my full attention.
While I think that the jump scare at the beginning of the film was a smart tactic to get viewers watching it may have overall worked against the film. I believe the opening scene picked up the pace too quickly, leaving most of the remainder of the film to seem slow.
Overall I believe that this film was not bad. It was shot well, the cast was fairly strong, and it effectively displayed a very important point in the Civil Rights Movement. I would not say that this is the greatest film of 2014 even though it does a great job at making audience members think "I can't believe this really happened." I would grade it a 6/10.