Originally published Monday, June 19, 2017 at 05:55a.m.
Having no rap background and only minuscule exposure to rap music I really have no idea who Tupac Shakur was. I’m not even a fan of rap music, often believing it only filled a niche market. “All Eyez on Me” however can be seen as a small history of rap along with a biopic of one of its earliest founders.
From the movie I get that rap music is story-telling with a heavy beat. This is sort of a biography of one of the better story tellers, Tupac Shakur played by Demetrius Shipp Jr.
Shipp’s version of Shakur drew you in and made you care for the character. Especially the younger Shakur that studied Shakespeare and had Black Panther activist parents.
Danai Gurira (Walking Dead) played Afeni, his mother. She was able to change moods like a light switch between radical activist who is enraged by the government to the sensitive and caring mother imparting life’s deepest truths. And that was something I noticed pretty quickly. How Tupac or Afeni could become so full of rage and hatred so quickly. The first encounter between Tupac and police was instantly confrontational and without reason.
Then there’s brief moments where Tupac sees a mom and two children dividing up food in a parking lot and he goes over to them and hands them money. Or where Tupac intervenes between Afeni and her drug dealer mid-exchange. Even when Tupac was trying to get a record contract and he’s talking with a couple white executives who are telling him to drop a certain song. He explains what the song is about and the story-telling aspect of rap is secured. As Tupac becomes more successful, he’s confronted with his own lyrics and how they objectify women and encourage violence. Those points were glossed over.
Regardless, you came to care about Tupac and what was happening. And that’s what a movie is supposed to do.
But I can’t seem to get over how the movie seemed to be a big jigsaw puzzle and the pieces didn’t quite fit together. Maybe someone with considerably more “rap” knowledge would be able to put the pieces together.
The characters that were outstanding were Shipp Jr., of course, but also Gurira and Kat Graham (think Vampire Diaries) who played Jada Pinkett-Smith. The part where Tupac reads a poem to her is particularly touching. Even though the real Jada Pinkett-Smith claims it never happened.
It’s a long movie – 139 minutes – that doesn’t rivet you to your seat but also doesn’t put you to sleep. It is rated R for nudity and language.
I’ll give it a 1 out of 4 Miners.