Monday, June 26, 2017

[Review] All Eyez On Me

A biopic is a difficult thing to make pop. Especially a music biopic. And especially a music biopic about an endlessly iconic and highly influential hip-hop artist like Tupac. 2015's Straight Outta Compton hit the right notes with its exuberant portrait of NWA's rise, giving some hope that maybe the following Tupac rendition could do the same. But unfortunately, All Eyez On Me just doesn't have the same energy and effective craft behind it, and it falls disappointingly flat.

The film covers the life, death, and legacy of Tupac Shakur (played by Demetrius Shipp Jr.). Of course, a large chunk of it involves the revolutionary rapper's mid-90s reign--both the high points and the downfalls, from prison time to music industry success. Considering Pac's brilliant, complicated, and contradictory nature, there's a lot to delve into in terms of character study and musical genius, but the picture painted here is mostly clumsy, one-dimensional, and not quite as deep as it wants to be.

For a story about a larger-than-life lyricist and rapper, the film itself lacks any sense of poeticism or flow. Structurally, it never seems like it can decide where it wants to go. How much time should we spend on this? What should we cover? What should we omit? In turn, the narrative comes off like an unfocused visual checklist of someone perusing Tupac's Wikipedia page. And sometimes the dialogue is so terribly on-the-nose that it often becomes phony and forced.

Demetrius Shipp Jr. has an impossibly huge task to take on, and he actually does a pretty commendable job considering the weight of it all. But while he's a solid screen presence and greatly resembles the cultural icon in appearance, he doesn't quite possess the same bravado and soul of Tupac's voice. Does anyone really, though? Still, it's a significant glare that is difficult to look past.

All Eyez On Me always feels like it should be more fascinating and powerful than it is. Maybe someday there will be a good Tupac biopic, but it's not this one.

( 4.5/10 )

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