My name’s Thomas Munday and I’m here to say, I’m gonna rap like this in the usual way…also, don’t bother seeing this movie.
The musical-biopic flick is like the T1000 – still going, despite taking a slew of hits. These movies rely on our undying love for celebrities as well as our addiction to gossip. Worse still, they are all moulded into a rise-and-fall-and-rise structure. Truly, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story had the last laugh and went out with a chilling message – “STOP. MAKING. THESE. MOVIES”.
Sure, flicks like Walk the Line and Ray stand above the pack, however, the majority of which are parody worthy and borderline laughable. Making a musical biopic is like setting up a hipster café in Byron – either come up with something new or don’t do it at all. The creators of Tupac Shakur docudrama All Eyez On Me sadly failed to think outside the box. The movie looks at the short-lived career and long-lasting legacy of one of rap music’s seminal figures. It kicks off with Tupac (Demetrius Shipp jr) during his 18-month stint in prison for sexual assault. We then flash back to the late 1980s, with child and teenage Tupac faced with his mother’s role in the Black Panthers and crippling drug addiction.
Many biopics crumble thanks to one massive flaw – too much going on. The worst ones come off like a rollerdex, flipping back and forth between important events in their subjects’ lives. Sadly, All Eyez On Me will go down as a prime example of said issue. In the first act, we are faced with Moonlight-esque family dramas, Tupac’s stepfather’s brush with the law, and the rapper’s beginnings as an artist with a cause. Director Benny Boom is as erratic and irritating as a caffeinated baby, zipping from one year to the next. Title cards – showing each year and location – only make matters more confusing.
Sadly, things only get more frustrating from there. Its biggest sin is failing to get out of Straight Outta Compton’s shadow. The 2015 NWA biopic delivered an enthralling and confronting look at one of rap music’s biggest hitting groups. All Eyez on Me copies the structure, character types, discussions of race in urban and suburban America, and even specific scenes with little effect. Whereas SOC hit every note with heft, this one resembles one false note after another.
All Eyez on Me will be thrown on the pile of forgettable and lifeless musical biopics alongside everything from Jersey Boys to I Saw the Light. Sadly, it will be a long time before Tupac’s story is told with the strength and respect it deserves
All Eyez On Me is available in Australian cinemas from June 15
Image courtesy of Roadshow Films