All Eyez on Me: Film Review

I always love a movie that sheds light on an incredible life story and All Eyez on Me does exactly that. Obviously, a lot of people will already know about Tupac Shakur‘s life but I really didn’t – I don’t know much of his music and I didn’t know much besides his death – so this biopic was incredibly informative and interesting.

Demetrius Shipp Jr. plays the rapper in this biopic, which charts his early life in New York, his relocation to Baltimore, to his mother Afeni’s (Danai Gurira) drug addiction and being shipped off to California, to the highs and lows of his subsequent rap career – which includes the East Coast-West Coast rap war, getting shot multiple times, a rape accusation and his subsequent prison sentence, his issues with label boss Suge Knight (Dominic L Santana), and then, of course, the fatal drive-by shooting in 1996.

A lot happened in Tupac’s short life and this film tries to cram in a bit too much because it is quite long and all the really important stuff happens towards the end, so it could have done with less on his childhood. His early years are covered fairly swiftly, with little snapshots giving us a taste of different moments in his life, and it jumps around from different cities and years so it takes a while to get going. We only really get into the flow of the story when he hits California. From there it becomes like the usual rages to riches story but is way more eventful and dramatic than I was expecting.

I had some issues with the casting, especially coming so hot on the heels of hip-hop biopic Straight Outta Compton, which had a stronger cast. Shipp Jr was fantastic as Tupac – he looked like him enough, seemed to have his demeanour down – but Snoop Dogg (Jarrett Ellis) and Faith Evans (Grace Gibson) didn’t look right. Knight looked more convincing in Compton, while Ellis looked nothing like Snoop but he sounded so much like him it was uncanny, like they actually had him lip sync to his actual voice.

Jamal Woolard was an obvious choice for Notorious B.I.G. given that he already played him in 2009’s  Notorious, Kat Graham doesn’t massively look like Jada Pinkett Smith but she sounded like her often and was very convincing with her mannerisms, delivery and attitude. Lauren Cohan was annoyingly in it for two seconds and Gurira got to flex her acting chops the most and because she is so much better than the others, it came across totally over-the-top.

Critics have not been kind to All Eyez on Me but I think the reason I don’t have a serious problem with it is because I was so interested in this story cos I didn’t know it. Perhaps if you know about Tupac, you can more critical about the storytelling. Sure, there are some cliched script moments, the acting isn’t top notch and there are too many performance scenes, but I was engrossed by it.

In cinemas Friday 30th June 

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