Magazine article Variety

All Eyez on Me

Magazine article Variety

All Eyez on Me

Article excerpt

All Eyez on Me

FILM REVIEW

Director: Benny Boom

Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira

Sleekly shaven-headed, with a pirate bandanna, a gangsta's dripped-in-death tattoos, and the liquid stare of an Arabian prince, Tupac Shakur was the matinee idol of hip-hop superstars: not the fiercest rapper, not the most virtuosic or visionary, but a figure of "hard" ferocity who elevated street nihilism by fusing it with a certain lovesexy bravura. For a while, he was as much a movie star as a rap star, and on some level Tupac's life always seemed like a movie playing out in front of you - not just the hair triggers of violence but his whole contradictory dance of activism and thuggery, commitment and celebrity.

"All Eyez on Me," a messy, hugely flawed but fascinating biographical drama, channels those contradictions, even if it doesn't always know what to do with them. Comprehensive but sketchy, atmospheric but often under-dramatized, it is not, in the end, a very good movie (there are a few scenes, like Tupac's initial meeting with Ted Field of Interscope Records, that are embarrassingly bad). Yet it's highly worth seeing because it captures something about the space in which Tupac lived: a place that wanted to be all about pride and power but was really about flying over the abyss.

The film is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, and considering that Tupac was only 25 when he was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas on Sept. 7, 1996, that should be enough time to tell his story with intimacy and flow. Yet "All Eyez on Me," directed by music-video veteran Benny Boom, is an old-school biopic, with that sprawling, one-thing-after-another quality that can make you feel like you're seeing the cinematic version of a Wikipedia entry.

That said, Demetrius Shipp Jr., who plays Tupac, carries you through. He looks astonishingly like the rap star, but he also fills out Tupac emotionally, showing us the smiley high school student who prided himself on his success in the theater, as well as the surly adolescent who was raised by his mother, the former Black Panther Afeni Shakur, to take a never-ending stance of defiance. Afeni is played by Danai Gurira, who makes Afeni a ruthlessly intelligent analyst of the white power structure consumed by a rage that has no outlet (at one point, she turns to crack). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.