Genre: Biopic | Drama
Directed by: Benny Boom
Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr.| Kat Graham| Danai Gurira
Written by: Jeremy Haft, Eddie Gonzalez, Steven Bagatourian
I really had no expectations going into this movie, other than the idea that I may end up comparing it to the last great rap biopic, Straight Outta Compton. While these movies have their differences, they are very much alike in how well acted, and accurate they are in portraying these rap legends.
All Eyez On Me starts off slow, but proves worth the wait, as the non-linear storytelling is vital to covering every aspect of Tupac’s life, while not spending too much time lesser things.
While this style is what is likely taking a bashing from critics, it is in this that it is made clear that the producer’s purpose was to debut all of Tupac’s life, and not just the flashy and high profile moments that we all know.
The earliest details of Tupac’s birth, to his mothers lifestyle and development of him moving from Baltimore to New York, is what shaped him into the complex character he was, as this is what the writing excelled at sharing.
Eventually the film moves towards a more linear point of view, as Tupac is signed with Death Row records and on screen debuting some of his most iconic moments.
This is where the film does get a lot better, as you see everything from his relationship with Suge Knight, to how he transformed into the rap superstar he was. While this style of writing may be of distaste to some, it is in this style that all of Tupac was debuted, and not just some flashy moments that everyone had already heard of a million times over.
While the writing did shine in this way, what was really impressive was the way in which nearly each and every actor portrayed their characters to a “T”. The casting directors are the real heroes of this movie, as they did such an excellent job at not only casting great actors, but also casting people who looked so dead accurate to their characters.
Demetrius Shipp Jr. played the rap legend as accurate as he looks to Shakur, while Jamal Woolard reminded us why he did such a good job as Biggie.
Even the less known characters in Tupac’s life were really well done, as Dominic L. Santana somehow pulled off an even better portrayal of Suge Knight (than he was in Straight Outta Compton) as other less known characters made you even more interested in their involvement with Shakur.
While Jada Pinkett Smith may have been displeased with the storytelling of herself in the actual movie, Kat Graham was an exact spitting image of the young actress, as she truly was the young Jada that people remember from the 90’s.
The acting of this movie is what made it a treat, as each and every reenactment made it seem like we had traveled back in time and were viewing an actual montage of some of raps most classic moments.
While this style of non-linear writing was no serious issue for me, it is for this reason that so many critics are giving All Eyez On Me, the ‘death row’ treatment. The writing does do well at showing us a real montage of each aspect of Shakur’s life, but it also is full of detail that is certain to confuse and feel a bit overwhelming to some.
Even though I personally enjoyed all of the detail and jumping from moment to moment, I could understand how this style would leave a dis-taste for some movie goers.
However, the main thing that bothered me about this film, was not the writing, but the way in which they set up the acting of Snoop Dogg. While the actor himself played a good physical interpretation of the west coast rapper, I did not understand why the film had him clearly lip sync the actual Snoop Dogg’s voice.
If they did such a good job in casting and trusting the other major characters to act in the movie, why couldn’t they do the same for a character as iconic and featured as Snoop Dogg in the film?
Every other actor did a good job at sounding like the rap legend they portrayed, so why did they have Snoop Dogg (who was in a fair amount of scenes) not actually act with his own voice?
All Eyez On Me is a solid montage of Tupac’s life, and well worth watching if you are into some solid acting and re-enactments of classic hip hop moments.
The actors and casting directors are the real stand outs of this movie, as they are the most flawless aspect of All Eyez On Me.
While the writing may be confusing or choppy for some, I still found the movie very enjoyable as the non-linear storytelling helped show us every detail of Tupac’s life while not spending too much time on the less necessary things.
All Eyez On Me portrayed hip hop’s rap legends in a way that will make you want to see more of these iconic rap biopics, until every major rap superstar has been portrayed.
P.S. I really think they should consider making a Suge Knight movie.
If you enjoyed my All Eyez On Me review, check out Crazy For Film, for even more movie fun.