Tag Archives: straight outta compton

Tupac Biopic ‘All Eyez on Me’ Isn’t Very Well Made, but I Liked it Anyways

AllEyez_posterYou know those movies that you’re aware aren’t that good but you can’t help but enjoy anyways? That’s this.


“All Eyez on Me” is the long delayed and long overdue biopic about the rapper Tupac Shakur. Demetrius Shipp Jr., whose father worked with Tupac on one of his albums, plays the late artist as Kat Graham, Dominic L. Santana, Hill Harper and Danai Gurira also star. Benny Boom directs.


The behind-the-scenes stories of what it took to get this film made are interesting enough to be a movie on their own. It went through several directors, including Antoine Fuqua and John Singleton, as well as a handful of legal trouble and lawsuits, including pushback from Shakur’s mother. However it is finally hitting the big screens and while it is no “Straight Outta Compton,” and one could argue it’s not even that good at all, there is something about “All Eyez on Me” that I just found enjoyable.


I loved “Straight Outta Compton” so when they announced that Tupac was getting a biopic it only seemed natural and I was intrigued. The trailers for this were a bit of a mixed bag, with half being intense and gripping while the other half felt like they were stitched together by a film student and the finished product is a lot like that, too. There are parts that are engaging, interesting and worthy of Tupac’s legacy; however just as often the film is a sloppy mess that doesn’t know how to get from scene to scene.


As the lead role Demetrius Shipp Jr. shines. He is a spitting image of Tupac, to the point it is almost eerie, and he does a good job (for the most part) of capturing that charismatic smile that Shakur had, as well as some of the more emotionally heavy scenes with his mother.


The rest of the cast do solid work, too, but Shipp is really the only one with enough screen time to be considered a main character. Others flow in-and-out of the film depending on what the current scene requires, with Tupac’s friends Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham) and The Notorious B.I.G. (Jamal Woolard, reprising his role from 2009’s “Notorious”) showing up here and there. Dominic L. Santana takes over the role of Suge Knight from “Compton’s” Ryan Marcos Taylor and he does alright. The man has the large frame, beard and scowl that Knight had, however he never captures the same intimidating sense that Taylor showed in 2015.


The scenes that work best in the film are when Tupac is on stage, which makes sense because director Benny Boom is best known for his music videos. I constantly found myself nodding my head and moving my feet in my seat, and I forgot just how many hits Tupac had that I was familiar with; even critics of the film as a whole won’t be able to deny the powerful pleasures of its musical moments.


But when the film isn’t focused on Tupac’s musical career is where the real faults lie. The first half is lazily told through flashbacks as Tupac talks to a reporter while in jail for sexual assault (a topic the film brushes over and almost villainizes his victim for) and things are really choppy. Boom wouldn’t know subtlety if it hit him in the back of the head and he makes sure you know exactly how every character is feeling at every moment and even puts location and date stamps at the start of near every scene, because he’s not a strong enough visual director to get either point across on his own.


The ending is also cheesy and over-the-top and knocked my enjoyment down a little bit, just because it doesn’t tug at you as much as it should and Boom and the screenwriters, again, take such a by-the-numbers and straightforward approach that it’s just indolent.


At two hours and 20 minutes, “All Eyez on Me” does not justify its runtime and had it been cut down to a solid 120 minutes then I think this could have been a genuinely good movie. That being said I still enjoyed a lot of it, almost like it is a TV movie spiritual sequel to “Straight Outta Compton,” and I think if you’re willing to overlook some of the lazier execution and excessive runtime then there’s enough here to like.


Critics Rating: 6/10

Summit Entertainment

Summit Entertainment

Top 5 Films of Summer 2015

The temperature is starting to cool down, the leaves are turning brown and the children are back at school, which means one thing: we’re entering awards season. So that also means that summer movie season, my favorite time of the year at the theaters, is again over. There was some good, some bad, but a lot of meh. So here are the five best films from Summer 2015 (May-August), with the five worst stinkers in a subsequent post!

Honorable Mention/Surprised It Didn’t Suck: The Gift

I saw the trailer, the cast, and the August release date and I honestly thought this thing was destined for disaster. But to my pleasant surprise, Jason Bateman turns in a fantastic performance, and even if the film doesn’t pull as many twists as it wants, it was still a wonderfully uncomfortable viewing experience that I would gladly take again.


5.) Avengers: Age of Ultron

Some people didn’t like this movie, which I have to believe was their own fault for overhyping it. “Ultron” is fun and exciting, with yet another fantastically charismatic performance from Robert Downey Jr., as well as an interesting villain portrayed by James Spader. It may have been a little bit similar to the first “Avengers” film, but this one kicked off the summer movie season with a bang.



4.) Trainwreck

It’s a funny movie with charming performances from Amy Schumer and Bill Hader, with a surprising amount of dramatic heft. It is definitely Judd Apatow’s most mature film to date, and it is arguably his most hilarious.



3.) Spy

One of the first comedies of the year remains its funniest. Melissa McCarthy continues her streak of only being funny when in Paul Feig-directed films, but what really makes this movie so great is the surprise comedy work from Jason Statham. I really hope he does more action-comedies, because that dude is surprisingly hilarious.



2.) Straight Outta Compton

It isn’t too often (or ever?) that one of the year’s best films comes out in the month of August, but that is the case here (the month also has one of the year’s worst films, but that’s for another article). The first half of “Compton” is so energetic and has such a powerful and engaging vibe to it, not to mention fantastically underrated cinematography by Matthew Libatique, that even when the film starts to slow down near the end, you’re on such a high you don’t care.



1.) Jurassic World

Some people hated this movie. And to that I say, everyone is entitled to their opinion, even when it’s wrong. I saw this movie twice in the same week, and it blew me away both times. Chris Pratt is Hollywood’s next big star, and the film is the definition of a summer popcorn flick (even if it is so much more than that). If somehow you are one of the seven people who still hasn’t seen this movie (it currently sits 3rd all-time at the box office), you are doing yourself an immense injustice. See “Jurassic World” now; it’ll make you feel like a kid again.



Go Straight to the Theater to Check Out ‘Compton’

Straight_Outta_Compton_posterWell aside from that sad excuse for a Fantastic Four reboot, August has been uncharacteristically good to us so far this year.

“Straight Outta Compton” tells the real-life tale of the Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and Eazy E (Jason Mitchell), and the rise and fall of their 1980’s rap group, N.W.A. Paul Giamatti also stars as F. Gary Gray directs.

I have been excited for this film ever since I saw the trailer in February (I don’t think saying I’ve watched it over 30 times since would be an exaggeration). It gave me the chills seeing rap legends’ names on screen, while at the same time getting me pumped up hearing all of N.W.A’s classic songs. So needless to say, I had high hopes for this movie, and it met if not exceeded near every one of them.

Right off the bat, “Compton” got its casting perfectly. I don’t think a casting director has ever gotten a shout-out in a movie review, but here’s giving one Cindy Tolan props, because she nailed it. Every actor in this film, most of them making their starring role debuts, looks like, sounds like, and full on becomes the real-life person they’re portraying. O’Shea Jackson, Jr. is Ice Cube’s son in real life, so saying this was the role he was born to play may be a bit of an understatement. Jason Mitchell also kills it as Eazy E, and carries two of the film’s most emotional scenes.

The first half of this film is some of the most fun I’ve had at the movies all year. It is filled with such energy, and following the group around in their early stages is both engaging and interesting. There are several concert scenes that you almost have to restrain yourself from standing up and joining in on the mosh pit of people swaying along to Ice Cube singing “F tha Police.”

Which brings me to my next point: much like “Selma,” this film, despite being set in the past, is very relevant to today. What N.W.A started from was the desire to voice their frustration about police brutality against minorities, and while the film certainly has its viewpoint on the subject from 20 years ago, it gives just enough food-for-thought about today’s society.

Side-compliment: I know only film junkies like me may care about this, but there is one scene inside a hotel room that is entertaining in its own right (including a hilarious one-liner upon its conclusion), but after the scene was over I noticed that it was all one take. So major kudos to director F. Gary Gray and cinematographer Matthew Libatique for pulling that off, I loved it.

The biggest flaws that “Straight Outta Compton” have are that of almost every musical biopic, but they’re less glaring here than in other pictures. While the rise and even the fall of the group is a fun ride, we then follow one artist in particular, and that is nowhere near as entertaining as when the band’s all together (think “Jersey Boys” only less love songs, more gangs). Also there are a few plot points that go completely untouched, such as Dr. Dre saying he needs to provide for his girlfriend and baby, and then we never see or hear about them after the 20-minute mark.

I really liked “Straight Outta Compton.” Like kind of a lot. The first half is darn near perfect filmmaking, and while the second half stops to take a few breaths (which is understandable, given the brisk pace of the first act) it never drags until the very last minutes. I think there is something in this movie for almost everyone, and if you don’t go out and see it you are honestly missing out. “Straight Outta Compton” is not just one of the best movies of the summer; it’s one of the best films of the year.

Critics Rating: 8/10