All Eyez On Me Review

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Should your eyes be on this film?

After the tremendous popularity of Straight Outta Compton, All Eyez On Me is the latest biopic movie about a famous rapper.  Ok, not just any famous rapper but possibly the greatest rapper of all time, Tupac Shakur.  I know it’s getting repetitive sometimes considering they seem to make a movie about all my favorite things that I liked when I was younger but I’ll still mention it.  Tupac is and was my favorite rap star.  It was about time we got a movie about him.  I of course wanted to see it but was apprehensive about how he would be portrayed.

When Tupac was with us, he was larger than life.  His music, no matter how polarizing, was moving.  Naturally, a movie about him should also be larger than life and emotionally moving. So why does this movie feel like it is just going through the motions?

I’m not going to elaborate on all the plot points here since we know it’s about Tupac Shakur’s life, but this movie starts out with Tupac in jail already.  While incarcerated, he is interviewed about his life from childhood to adulthood as well as the events that led to his circumstance. So, the first two thirds of this movie are presented as expository flashback.  Then when Tupac finally gets to present day in his story, the story telling part of the movie is over and we are now really in the present as we witness Tupac’s life post incarceration. 

The shift in the way the storytelling is framed seemed like an odd choice to me. Of course, we need to see Tupac’s life from childhood but why does it need to be told through an interview? Whatever that portion of the movie seemed to be getting at with this technique seemingly gets lost once we are shifted to Tupac’s present life.  We never hear from the reporter that interviews him again, so this choice to include that seems unnecessary. 

As far as just going through the motions, the tone of this movie seems disjointed. This movie moves quickly through moments in Tupac’s life.  However, there seems to be a disconnect between the flow of these events as they happen.  One thing will happen, then it will go to another event maybe a few months or years later but it’s hard to grasp the how’s and the why’s of Tupac’s actions because Tupac seems like a different person in every separate moment.  At one point, he is doing school play’s, the next he is performing rap music for the Underground. It’s all a blur.

Lots of things go unexplained.  This is particularly egregious for a movie that is two and half hours long.  It skips over details like how exactly did Tupac get into rap or why exactly does his relationship with Notorious B.I.G. falter? We don’t get a true explanation for how Tupac is being denied his money from Interscope records.

Not only are details lacking, but there seems to be a lack of passion on the part of Tupac actor, Demetrius Shipp Jr. The guy is a dead ringer for Tupac in looks obviously.  He just seemed robotic in his performance. He is the main character of this movie, but the movie does a poor job at building a connection between him and the audience.  The movie gives us shallow looks at chronological events in the life of Pac but never goes deeper so that we see the gears that are grinding behind the scenes in his mind.

It may sound like I hate this movie. I don’t.  There is enjoyment to be found here.  Namely because Pac’s story is still very interesting.  He was a charismatic character with a charismatic life and if you can only convey less than half of that onto the big screen, it’ll still be riveting stuff.  The slower tone of the movie picks up when Tupac finally establishes himself in Los Angeles, so that’s fun.  Plus, Tupac’s music is all over this movie and that never fails to get one hyped.

There seems to be lost potential here. All considered, this movie lacks the depth of Pac’s music.  Only true Tupac fan’s will  derive any enjoyment from All Eyez On Me. This is shame because Pac’s life is worthy of a grander movie than this. 

Grade: C+

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