Original Title: All Eyez on Me
Director: Benny Boom
The movie, directed by Benny Boom, portrays the life of the best rapper ever, Tupac Amaru Shakur and have the name of his fourth studio album.
The initial project had the Academy Award nominee John Singleton as its director, but unfortunately, due to differences in opinion between Singleton and the studio he decided to leave.
Singleton is the youngest nominated for the Oscars for both original screenplay and director, at 24 years old for the film “Boyz N the Hood”. This movie is one of the main reasons I became interested in movies.
That is a story for another day.
Demetrius Shipp Jr. plays the protagonist, Tupac. Danai Gurira (most known as Michonne in The Walking Dead and most recently, Okoye in Black Panther) plays his mother, Afeni.
The figure and idealization of Tupac Shakur was one of the most important models for my development during adolescence and is very odd to me realize that I’m already older than he was when he died.
Now imagine my expectations, seeing the movie I waited my entire adult life finally made.
Now imagine my frustration when the movie sucked.
In 2015, we got Straight Outta Compton. In 2016, we got Moonlight. I liked both, a lot and I think the two films can be perfect examples of how All Eyez on Me could be equally great.
We have a young black kid born in a time of extreme racial tension, Black Panther family members including Assata Shakur, Mutulu Shakur and Afeni herself. Someone who was always very artistic and educated but had his controversial side as well.
Tupac was a man who achieves success thanks to his talent in music and acting at a relatively young age, had a bright future ahead of him and died in a (kind of) unsolved murder. His story told in a film is very Oscar-baity, but the way this movie unfolds…
Everything I listed was present in the movie, but very poorly executed. We jump from an interview where he tells us things about his early life, to a brief portrayal of what he is telling, then back to interview, and so on.
We practically skip Tupac’s childhood and some part of his teen years and even what was shown, did not demonstrates his feelings, thoughts, personality, talents, nothing.
Happily, we have an amazing acting from Danai Gurira. She is easily the best thing from this movie and shines until Afeni begins to struggle with crack. It is only then that Demetrius starts to show some Tupac for us.
Demetrius does also a very good job. I was afraid he was going to be shit since we cannot see a thing of substance from him for around 20 minutes of movie, when Tupac confronts Afeni about the crack.
Kat Graham is also a very satisfactory Jada Pinkett-NotYetSmith.
The real Jada came to Twitter to say some things never happened, like the scene where Tupac reads to her a poem he wrote about their love/friendship. Even being artistic liberty, this scene is one of the best scenes in the movie, being my favorite poem, so I loved it.
We do not have so much time with Kat on the screen, but other big names appear even less. Like DeRay Davis (some childhood role model name Legs), Jamie Hector (as stepfather Mutulu Shakur) and Lauren Cohan (as Leila Steinberg).
When we catch up with the interview and things start to unfold as we watch, the film flows much better. That is when we finally got some good scenes in the prison culminating in Tupac “selling his soul” to Suge Knight.
Now the spotlight shines on Dominic L. Santana and his interpretation of Suge Knight, a notorious member of the Mob Piru Gang from East Compton and CEO of the Death Row Records.
The final act has Tupac’s hostage of Death Row, his relationship with Kidala Jones and of course, his second shooting that leads to his death. After the shooting, black screen, and captions.
I guess it is obligatory to have little letters explaining the aftermath in every movie depicting real-life events. To be honest I felt like there was something missing in this ending, maybe, actually show his legacy instead of just telling in white letters and black background.
After finishing, a feeling of melancholy was double. First because of the sad story of an idol being murdered so young, the second because his life was mediocrely depicted in the movie.
Demetrius Shipp Jr. is a great Tupac, Danai Gurira is amazing in every aspect, and we have some moments of greatness where you can see how good the movie could be.
Nevertheless, moments and the actors alone cannot hold this weak execution, with lots of exposition, jumping back and forth and excessively montages.
The movie I wish I could give a big fucking 10, but unfortunately, it is going to be only 5 Moons.