All Eyez on Me
Run time: 2hrs. 20mins
Starring: Demetrius Ship, Jr., Danai Gurira, and Kat Graham
Twenty-One years in the making, one would think that the movie biopic about the life of Tupac Amaru Shakur would be one of the best critically acclaimed biopics in recent cinematic history, outperforming the likes of Notorious and Straight Out of Compton, but sadly it is not. For those who are Tupac admirers, it is a nice walk down memory lane, reminding us of the talented, but controversial life of Tupac. But, if you are wanting to learn something new about his life or death then, other than a few instances, there is no new light that has been shed.
All Eyez on Me tells the story of the life and death of Tupac Shakur. It follows him from his early days in New York City to his rise of becoming one of the world’s most recognized hip-hop artist of all time until his sudden death at the young age of 25.
In his acting debut, Demetrius Ship, Jr. (his father actually worked on The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory album with Tupac) brings life to Shakur on screen from his characteristics and mannerisms to his physical similarities. He has some very poignant moments between himself and Danai Gurira (The Walking’s Dead Michonne) who plays Afeni Shakur as the film depicts their tumultuous relationship that turned to love and admiration towards the end of his life.
There are two major problems with the film: casting and the lack of in-depth meaning of the impactful relationships and circumstances in Shakur’s life. The film seems to rush, at times, like that of a made for television movie. Early in the film, it moves very quickly, barely scratching the surface, from his early life until he put out his first album with Interscope Records. The start of his solo career as he broke away from Digital Underground is where the film starts to examine some of the turmoil and conflict that constantly surrounded his life that eventually lead to his death.
As the moviegoer, your expectations are high because your hope is that the film makers used those 21 years since his death to research and develop a film that would powerfully impact its viewers and add to the legacy of his life and music. But disappointingly, it does not.
The casting is below average, to say the least. Other than Ship, Jr. as Tupac, and Jamal Woolard recasting his role as The Notorious B.I.G., Christopher Wallace, the cast lacks any true connections or believably of their character portrayals. Starting with Kat Graham’s uneventful portrayal as Jada Pinkett to Jarrett Ellis as Snoop Dog, in which Snoop Dog’s actual voice is used to voice over Ellis in the film. I guess the studios wanted his voice, but they could not tap in the fountain of youth to make Snoop look 21 years younger.
Don’t get me wrong, there were times while watching the film that nostalgia hit and I was back in 1995 riding in my car on a nice sunny afternoon being mesmerized by the lyrics of “So Many Tears”. But I did not learn more from the film from the time I entered the theater until the time I left. Yes, truly “all eyes” were on the making and anticipation this film. Unfortunately, this film could have been so much more. But just like 1996’s Tupac hit song, “I Ain’t Mad at Cha”.