By: Movie Snurb (Four Beers) –
All Eyez on Me is the long awaited biopic of the prolific rap artist Tupac Shakur. Since the massive hit Straight Outta Compton, this film that has been waiting to be made for a long time. After John Singleton left the film in a vocal way, this film seemed dead in the water. However, they found Benny Boom, a guy that’s really known for music videos, and the script went through multiple writers. John Singleton may have known what he was doing when he left this film in the dust. This is a film that needed to be made and one that a lot of people have been waiting for and unfortunately Tupac’s fans will need to wait longer for a proper medium to tell his life story.
The film is very stylish and at times nails the vibrant time period of the 90s. They were able to use Tupac’s real music which also worked very well to help tell his story. The acting at times was over-the-top, but some of the portrayals felt very real. Danai Gurira as Tupac’s mother Alfeni was the star of this film and Tupac’s story. Even when the material becomes cheesy, Gurira finds the heart of the message being conveyed. Also, they couldn’t have found anyone who looks more like Tupac than Demetrius Shipp Jr. It’s remarkable to watch this film and think that you’re not watching Tupac himself.
Unfortunately, that is as far as it goes for Shipp as Tupac. He does get some mannerisms, and Tupac’s way of speaking. There are times when you can tell he is trying to act like Tupac rather than become Tupac. Like the scenes when we see “Juice” and “Above the Rim” being filmed. It’s almost uncomfortable to watch. I’d rather they just have shown clips from the real film rather than Shipp recreating the scene. However, when he is given time he is able to settle into the role.
Shipp isn’t given time in most scenes to settle into them. This film is full of relentless cuts and edits, and not in a good David Fincher kind of way. Every time a scene felt like it was being set up it would cut to the next. Every scene felt like it was cut short in order to hit all of the “highlights” of Tupac’s life. This overediting of the film turned it into a generic story with characters who aren’t fully fleshed out. If this weren’t a true story, I’d begin to wonder why am I supposed to care about these people. We never really get to know anyone, including Tupac. Also, I had a problem with Boom’s decision to slow-mo every important moment in Tupac’s life, as if the audience isn’t able to understand that this moment in time will be significant to Tupac. It felt pandering rather than moving.
This incessant need to cut every scene short made this film a greatest hits film of Tupac’s life. Not only that, but all of the songs used of his in the film were his greatest hits, only emphasizing this feeling. They used these songs in a trope rather than actually showing the weight the songs have. Like, when his mother leaves after visiting him in prison, while she’s leaving “Dear Mama” begins to play. It all feels very on the nose. He could’ve been reflecting on his past and realized how great his mom was and then show him writing the song. I didn’t like how they chose to tell his story from the beginning up to his sexual misconduct conviction. They used an interview to help move the story along, but instead they’d use it to set up a scene by having two sentences of dialogue. They could’ve used voice-over and saved money, time, and it would’ve worked just fine. The film felt very pandering and maybe it will resonate with some fans, but I have to believe most will leave feeling unsatisfied.
Jamal Woolard reprising his role as Christopher “Biggie” Wallace
It’s 2 hours and 20-minute runtime doesn’t feel overly long, but All Eyez on Me will still leave you with an empty feeling. Some fans will enjoy this film hearing all of Tupac’s big hits and seeing the big moments in his life. But I think most fans will not be satisfied with this version of the story of Tupac. This isn’t the worst the film could’ve been, but it could’ve been so much better.
All Eyez on Me (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time the film goes into slow-mo.
Take a Drink: every time Suge Knight threatens someone.
Take a Drink: every time a Tupac song is played.
Pour a Drink Out: for Tupac in the end.