All Eyez on Me

Written by Jeremy Haft, Eddie Gonzalez and Steven Bagatourian and starring first-time actor Demetrius Shipp, Jr., All Eyez on Me tells the “true and untold” story of controversial rapper, actor, poet and activist Tupac Shakur. It is a musical biopic that covers Tupac’s short, 25 years of life. The title is the same as Tupac’s fourth studio album released in 1996.

The notable characters in this movie are well cast. This is Mr. Shipp’s debut acting role, and what a role to debut with!  He didn’t just get this job because at times, in the right lighting, at the right angle, he can be a dead ringer for Tupac. He beat out over 4,000 actors to land this role, and delivers Tupac not only physically, but emotionally.  Suge Knight looks like Suge Knight. Dr. Dre looks like Dr. Dre, Shock G looks so much like Shock G it is crazy, etc., etc.  The acting is solid, in general, and the women here stand out; most notably,Danai Gurira, who plays Tupac’s mom, Afeni Shakur. Her acting is remniscent of the great Viola Davis’; “snotty cry” and all.

Problems do exist with this film.  John Singleton was originally attached to this project but backed out because he did not agree with how Tupac is portrayed here.  He directed Tupac in Poetic Justice, so it would be reasonable that someone who actually knew the man steer.  He is still hopeful he can bring his own version of Tupac’s story to the big screen.  The less seasoned Benny Boom stepped in to direct.  And Jada Pinkett disagrees with the poetic license taken regarding the portrayal of her relationship with Tupac.

Despite Tupac’s life being cut short the man went through and accomplished so much.  At 2 hours and 20 minutes, the film covers so many events in Tupac’s life it loses focus at times. There are events you want more details about and times when you could do with less. (The same holds true for the music at times as well.)  There are so many bits and pieces squeezed in to this story that the script feels “heavy,” somewhat overworked and very choppy as it jumps from one event to another, and on to another, then another.  Unlike Tupac’s music, it does not flow effortlessly.  It is lacking in soul and depth. It feels as if we are going down a bumpy, bulleted list of Tupac’s life rather than living out his experiences with him.

I understand how Singleton would disagree with this portrayal of Tupac as this movie accentuates the lowlights and overlooks many of the highlights of Tupac’s life, like Maya Angelou lecturing him to tears or any of the powerful speeches he delivered, or even more of the jailhouse interviews he granted.  Because of the imbalance between the “good” and the “bad,” the audience doesn’t really get to experience the complexity of the man as strongly as they could have.  Conversely, the powerful interpretation of by whom and how he was raised and how his upbringing factored into the person he became is done exceptionally well.

All Eyez on Me earned 7 out of 10 bloops.  It is a good movie, worth seeing; particularly if you are a Tupac fan.  Even if you’re not a fan, you may enjoy it and younger fans may learn things they never knew about the man.   We all know it does not end well for Tupac going in, but the end is very moving.  Despite its flaws, All Eyez on Me pays great tribute to a very talented and complex individual.  Happy Birthday Pac!

***Apologies.  Due to technical issues this post had to be published again.

Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

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What I’m seeing this week…

The Book of Henry
Rough Night
47 Meters Down

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Good Time
Atomic Blonde
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