Director: Benny Boom
Cast: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira, Kat Graham
Release Date: September 5, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 6/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Directed by Benny Boom and written by Jeremy Haft & Eddie Gonzalez and Steven Bagatourian, All Eyez on Me tells the true story of prolific rapper, actor, poet, and activist Tupac Shakur, from his early days in New York City through his evolution into one of the world’s most influential voices before his untimely death at the age of 25.
The long awaited, untold story of Tupac Shakur and his difficult, yet remarkable life; ‘All Eyez on Me’ summarizes the crucial events throughout his life, beginning with his youngest days which were filled with danger and dread as a result of his step-father’s activist ways and following Tupac through his friendships, loves and the struggle, yet ultimate reward as he fights to make his way in the rap game, eventually joining forces with some questionable individuals and even making enemies of past friends along the way. The film chronicles his life from the early days to the fateful night that changed everything.
Directed by Benny Boom (48 Hours To Live) from a screenplay by Jeremy Haft (Grizzly Mountain), Eddie Gonzalez (Street Kings 2: Motor City) and Steven Bagatourian (American Gun), Boom does a pretty competent job at the helm of ‘All Eyez on Me’ capturing some of the heart and power within while tackling quite the flooded laundry list of events to include. The film also owes a tremendous amount of credit to newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. whose portrayal of Tupac is remarkable as is the similarity in appearance most of the time, his fantastic performance only further complimented by a quite capable supporting cast that includes Danai Gurira (TV’s The Walking Dead), Kat Graham (TV’s The Vampire Diaries), Hill Harper (Concussion), Lauren Cohan (The Boy), Jamal Woolard (Notorious), Dominic L. Santana (Dead Heist) and more.
The long discussed and highly anticipated untold to story of Tupac Shakur, ‘All Eyez on Me’ has finally arrived, although it’s not quite the masterpiece many had been hoping for. The film certainly gets some aspects spot on and captures certain key elements flawlessly, as well as providing a good bit of insight into to his tale. Yet it also suffers from an uneven tone and some other undeniable faults that can’t help but harm the overall film. Many of the portrayals are delivered by the cast with true passion and heart, and Demetrius Shipp, Jr. is absolutely phenomenal as Tupac, largely capturing the appearance, manner and voice and allowing it to always appear natural throughout. While nearly all of the performances are relatively on-par, the limited time we are provided in which to establish the majority of these characters (with the exception of Tupac to some degree naturally) never allows the viewer to understand the importance of many relationships or characters throughout the journey as one short scene promptly blends into another for the majority of the film’s runtime. The biggest issue that ‘All Eyez on Me’ suffers is in its inability to find a formula or smooth transition between moments that allows us to truly understand and appreciate the growth and changes (whether good or bad) that occur. Instead the film feels as if it’s attempting to merely jam pack as much content as physically possible into a minimal amount of time and as opposed to a more formulaic and smooth storytelling method it simply assaults you with various little tidbits of events and moments without ever slowing down enough to allow many of these often important moments to have any resonance or impact which detracts tremendously from the audience’s ability to truly join this journey and immerse themselves within. Fortunately the highly capable performances and careful attention to other important details allows the film to still deliver in many ways and for any fan of Tupac’s music, life or simply those interested in his journey whether a fan or not will all probably want to at least give it a watch when you have the opportunity to do so. It should prove worthy of your time at the very least, although it’s probably best to avoid immediately dropping the funds on a blind purchase prior to checking it out if possible.
Overall, ‘All Eyez on Me’ offers a great deal of insight while exploring Tupac’s life quite thoroughly and the fantastic portrayal of Tupac Shakur by Demetrius Shipp Jr. who nary misses a beat is enough reason alone to make this film worthy of at least some appreciation. Unfortunately while it has plenty going for it, it suffers its share of issues as well; particularly the erratic pace as its inability to find a suitable pattern with which to lay out the material often results in what feels like a senseless flood of facts and tidbits that far too frequently seem painfully absent of the heart and care they deserve. ‘All Eyez on Me’ certainly has its flaws and its choppy, convoluted formula in particular can be quite distracting, but I would still recommend anyone that was already the slightest bit interested in the film to begin with to try and make a point of giving it a watch when you have the chance and make up your own mind, although it’s probably unnecessary for anyone somewhat on the fence to rush out and immediately get their hands on a copy.
The Blu-ray release of ‘All Eyez on Me’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and provides a clean, sharp and well detailed presentation throughout, with no notable faults to be found along the way. It holds up impressively even during the darkly lit, heavily populated and somewhat active sequences, never allowing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible during its course. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that looks great every step of the way and should have no trouble satisfying the casual viewers and fans alike.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack perfectly complements the film and delivers a crisp, clean and at times notably aggressive audio presentation from start to finish. It regularly takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send crowd chatter, some action/gun effects and more whipping throughout the various channels when appropriate, and fully immersing the viewer within the music when it’s at the forefront which also gives the bass a chance to really do its thing. Overall, this is an outstanding 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds wonderful and contributes splendidly to this largely music-focused film.
The Blu-ray release of ‘All Eyez on Me’ includes a few worthwhile extras that fans will likely want to check out. Included on the release is a collection of ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film (running 8 minutes in length altogether), in addition to some behind the scenes Featurettes, Conversations and additional behind the scenes material for the movie including: ‘Legends Will Never Die: The Making of All Eyez on Me’ (running approximately 27 minutes), ‘Becoming Tupac’ (approximately 9 minutes), ‘Demetrius Ship, Jr. Raw Audition Tape’ (5 minutes) and 3 ‘All Eyez on Me Conversations’: ‘Telling Tupac’s Story’ (approximately 14 minutes), ‘Tupac’s Influence On The Music World’ (14 minutes) and ‘Tupac’s Fashion and His Lasting Influence’ (8 minutes).