"All Eyez on Me": Spoiler and Review
*****WARNING SPOILER ALERT*****
The highly anticipated film, “ALL EYEZ ON ME” hit theaters on Friday, June 16, 2017, which would have been Tupac Shakur’s 46th birthday. The film did not receive much support from its critics, scoring only 24% on Rotten Tomatoes and to make matters worse, celebrities such as Jada Pinkett-Smith, 50 Cent, and John Singleton spoke out openly against the film and its portrayal of Tupac Shakur. The rapper, 50 Cent called the film “bull$h*t”, and Pinkett took to Instagram on the film’s opening day to speak out against its inaccurate portrayals of the friendship she shared with the late rapper. With all the backlash “ALL EYEZ ON ME” received, it still came in third at the box office. The biopic cost an estimated $45 million and earned an estimated $27.1 mill over the Father’s Day weekend.
ALL EYEZ ON ME” chronicles the life of the late, great Tupac Shakur.
Raised in the Bronx by his outspoken mother Afeni (Danai Gurira), a member of the Black Panther Party, Tupac Shakur (Demetrius Shipp Jr.) confronts police brutality at an early age when FBI agents raided his home on Christmas Eve in search of his activist stepfather. Moving to Maryland in his teens, Tupac attends Baltimore School for the Performing Arts, where he befriends a young Jada Pinkett (Kat Graham). But just as Shakur begins thriving in this creative environment, his now drug-addicted mother ships him off to live with relatives in Oakland, California.
Discovered at a Bay Area poetry workshop, Tupac joins Digital Underground and tours with outlandish leader Shock G (Chris Clarke) during the group’s “Humpty Dance” heyday. Tupac soon lands a solo deal with Interscope Records and his first movie role, in Juice. Despite the breakout success of his second album “Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z.,” Tupac’s personal life becomes entangled in a string of arrests, financial problems, and gunfights. The problems culminated in November 1994, when Tupac is shot five times in the lobby of New York City’s Quad Recording Studios. The next day he checks himself out of the hospital and goes to court in a wheelchair. Imprisoned in February 1995, Tupac becomes the first inmate to score a No. 1 album when “Me Against the World” soars to the top of the charts.
Released after eight months, Tupac teams with volatile Death Row Records mogul Suge Knight (Dominic Santana) and artist-producer Dr. Dre (Harold House Moore) in Los Angeles, where he records the world’s first hip-hop double album, “All Eyez on Me.” But he is also embroiled in a bitter feud with East Coast rival Biggie Smalls (Jamal Woolard). Amid the escalating war, Tupac falls in love with Quincy Jones’ daughter Kidada Jones (Annie Ilonzeh). A few weeks after a now legendary House of Blues concert in West Hollywood, Tupac travels with Kidada to Las Vegas for a Mike Tyson fight. Stopped at a red light after the match, with Knight at the wheel, Tupac is shot on September 7, 1996, by unknown assailants and dies six days later. Simultaneously triumphant and tragic, All Eyez on Me tells the untold story of incendiary talent Tupac Shakur, dead at 25, who has sold more than 75 million records worldwide. All Eyez on Me stars Demetrius Shipp Jr., Kat Graham (“The Vampire Diaries”), Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”), Hill Harper (“CSI: NY”), Annie Ilonzeh (“Person of Interest,” “Empire”), Dominic L. Santana (Dead Heist, Love for Sale), Chris Clarke, Grace Gibson (Black Nativity) and Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead,” The Visitor).
All Eyez on Me was directed by Benny Boom (S.W.A.T.: Firefight, Next Day Air). Written by Jeremy Haft & Eddie Gonzalez (“Empire”) and Steven Bagatourian (American Gun). Produced by James G. Robinson, David Robinson, and L.T. Hutton. Executive Producer is Wayne Morris (“Blood and Oil,” Miami Vice). Director of Photography is Peter Menzies, Jr. (Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Incredible Hulk). Production Designer is Derek Hill (The Magnificent Seven, Into the Wild, Olympus Has Fallen). Edited by Joel Cox. Costume Designer is Francine Jamison-Tanchuck. Casting by Mary Vernieu, Michelle Wade Byrd, and Winsome Sinclair. Music by John Paesano (The Maze Runner, “Daredevil”).
There are mixed reviews on if the movie hit Tupac’s legendary status as audiences left the theater either yearning for more or feeling a little bit empty. Many have questioned the film's authenticity and have unfairly compared the film to the biopic, “Straight Outta Compton” whose members, except for Eazy-E, are still alive and contributed heavily to the movie. Some still question the storyline’s accuracy. Although “ALL EYEZ ON ME” is supposed to reveal the real story about Tupac, how many biopics have you seen that were 100% accurate? The answer is ZERO. Afeni and Tupac Shakur are deceased, Yaki Kadafi was murdered the same year as Pac, and Suge Knight is locked away in prison. So, whose perspective was used to tell his story? Most of the information used to make the film was acquired from the journalist who interviewed PAC while he was imprisoned.
OKAY, TIME FOR MY BREAKDOWN…
As a first time actor, Demetrius Shipp, Jr. did a pretty okay job embodying Tupac Shakur. I say pretty okay because Tupac was a rapper, storyteller, actor---activist turned superstar. For a first time role, he had some big shoes to fill. Although given the benefit of the doubt, no one can portray Tupac’s rawness and his realness. He had a way of articulating Black culture through the eyes of his own perspective.
Danai Gurira did an amazing job portraying Afeni Shakur. There were some powerful moments between Afeni and her son, but my favorite moment was when she said to Tupac, “They’re going to give you the tools you need to destroy yourself.” I adored their loving yet, complicated and loyal relationship.
Now don't get me wrong, there were a couple of corny scenes like the knockoff Snoop Dogg; I had to laugh out loud at that. There were also some emotional scenes. Towards the end of the film, there was a scene where PAC was trying to decide if he should go to the club or stay behind. A part of me wanted to yell, “Don’t go, it’s a setup,” even though I knew his life was about to end. As I watched him lay on the ground, gasping for air after being shot on the Las Vegas strip, you know what irritated me the most? Listening to that unnecessary gospel song playing annoyed me. No offense to The Almighty, but I was thinking, “They could have picked a better song than this!” Then, the movie abruptly ends with text on the screen that read, "Six Days later, Tupac died in the hospital." What! That’s it?
I know, it is hard to squeeze 25 years of a multifaceted life into two hours, but the ending seemed extremely rushed. There were no old PAC interviews, no reflections, just the credits going up. It seemed to me, the ending is where director, Benny Boom and crew dropped the ball. They carried viewers throughout the entire film with true stories, humor and thought-provoking scenes, only to drop us all in a pool of disappointment. Ultimately, I am grading "ALL EYEZ ON ME" with a B.
Although given a B, I believe it is worth seeing in order to keep biopics like this alive and thriving. It is worth seeing because it is not bizarrely fabricated like many have tried to say on social media (no folks, there was no iPhone used in the film). Simply put, it is a good watch with a weak ending.
There is a part of me that wish Tupac Shakur was still alive, making music, acting and advocating. I felt empathy for PAC’s rough life and upbringing. I wondered if he wanted to be the voice of his people or if destiny made that choice for him. Nevertheless, the world will never know. A lot was lost on that uneventful day in September of 96'. One of hip-hop's most recognized voices influenced the world before his untimely death at the age of 25. With so many forces against him, his powerful spirit, raw talent, and revolutionary approach still lives.
Tupac has been forever engraved in history as a cultural icon. Since his passing, his legacy continues to grow and generations not yet born or too young to understand or remember when PAC ruled the mic, even bob their heads to the man who took the 90’s by storm.