The reviews have come pouring in for the Tupac Shakur biopic All Eyez on Me. And, for those hoping for a drama that grabs and maintain's the viewers attention, this installment falls comfortably short. Debuting in theaters this week on June 16, this film from Summit Entertainment made a controversial choice by handing the director's reigns across to renowned music video specialist Benny Boom. Whoops.
That gamble appears to have backfired spectacularly, despite an admirable lead performance by Demetrius Shipp Jr. While fans of the late rapper have been demanding a movie that honors his legacy and greatness, the consensus indicates that the studio have made a hash of that attempt.
Clumsy, Corny Narrative Derived From Wikipedia Research
Glenn Kenny of The New York Times wasted no time illustrating his thoughts on the subject.
“All Eyez on Me, a fictionalized film biography of Shakur, directed by Benny Boom and starring Demetrius Shipp Jr., is not only a clumsy and often bland account of his life and work, but it also gives little genuine insight into his thought, talent or personality... This movie fails his considerable talents; I hope that he is soon afforded a better vehicle for them."
Rolling Stone critic David Fear could only muster 2/4 stars.
"Less a biopic than a pop-up Wikipedia page, All Eyez on Me covers the bases of Shakur's story," he writes. "It's biopic-making by numbers, and for anyone happy enough to simply see Shakur get the sinner-saint screen treatment, maybe that's enough. As for the people banking on Tupac getting his own Straight Outta Compton-level movie, well – we ain't mad at cha, All Eyez on Me. Just majorly disappointed."
Jake Wilson of The Sydney Morning Herald issued a 2.5/5 star review to say that Boom concentrated on material that slowed the pacing from more important matters.
"All Eyez on Me's concerns are more recognisably human than in most modern Hollywood films. But while there are are striking moments throughout, there's also a great deal which is simply corny or laborious, such as most of the material about Shakur's dealings with record labels."
From Boom To Bust For Music Video Director[lazy_Load_box][/lazy_load_box]
Edward Douglas from IGN believes that the filmmaker made a modest attempt of the story with a limited background in motion pictures.
"A director better known for his music videos - most notably for Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent and Akon - than his movies, and he does a decent job trying to encapsulate the life of a complicated artist."
Yet he argues that the film would have been better placed on cable that in the box office, such was its flaws.
"At times, the early part of the film feels more like a TV movie, not being particularly subtle about depicting the white people around Shakur as either clueless or downright evil. Once the story catches up to Shakur in prison and the last two years of his life, things start to get far more interesting, particularly with his controversial involvement with Death Row Records head Suge Knight, as played by Dominic Santana."
Variety's Owen Gleiberman gave one of the kinder reviews to explain that most of the major events in his life were covered.
"Comprehensive but sketchy, richly atmospheric but often under-dramatized, it is not, in the end, a very good movie," he concludes. "Demetrius Shipp Jr., who plays Tupac, carries you through. He looks astonishingly like the rap star, but Shipp also fills out Tupac emotionally, showing us the smiley high-school student who prided himself on his success in the theater."