For a lover of the Tupac Shakur legacy, the new biopic “All Eyez on Me” is entertaining, yet also disappointing.
First and foremost, let it be said that, contrary to the negative reviews overwhelming the internet, the film is enjoyable, if not perfect.
One of its strong suits is the powerful relationship between Tupac and his mother, former Black Panther Afeni Shakur, which is on display from the very first scene. Their special bond was a running theme throughout the film as the two supported each other in moments of hardship. It was a privilege to witness their journey as mother and son — both black, revolutionary and victims of systematic injustice.
Also undoubtedly commendable is the performance of Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac. Even beyond the strong physical resemblance, the actor does a great job in capturing the essence of the late rap icon, from his walk and speech to his slightest mannerisms. It was eerie watching at times, almost as if Tupac was there before your eyes.
But despite a multitude of strengths — portrayal of relationships, casting and costume design — the film’s greatest flaw is one of the most important aspects: storytelling. In an attempt to tell the complete life story of Tupac, from pre-birth to death, the film jumps from scene to scene, and the seams were glaring.
The choppiness is due to the context in which the story is told. Rather than telling the story in sequential order, the film relies heavily on the flashback effect. Different moments in Tupac’s life are shown in between clips of his 1995 interview at Clinton Correctional Facility Prison, which unfortunately gives it the feel of a documentary rather than a biopic.
Attempting to condense the lifespan of such an iconic figure into a feature-length film is understandably a challenge, but that does not lessen the responsibility of the filmmaker. The impact that Tupac Amaru Shakur left on the world was abundant, which is evident throughout the movie. However, the quality in which his legacy is illustrated falls short.