We all know that ALL EYEZ ON ME is trying to ride on the very recent success of 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. Let me get this out of the way first: I am not very familiar with Tupac Shakur’s music, or am very familiar with his life, nor have I seen Notorious (the actor who played Biggie reprises his role here), but I did love Straight Outta Compton. The real question is: was this a fast made product rushed into theaters so that way Straight Outta Compton wasn’t out of people’s minds yet or can magic really be recreated that quickly? A little bit of both. All Eyez On Me has the potential, there are several scenes that are as powerful as some scenes in Straight Outta Compton, however this film, even at 2 hours and 20 minutes, felt rushed. Really rushed. And all that leads to this conclusion: while Straight Outta Compton has tremendous focus, All Eyez On Me’s focus is all over the place, which makes it a little bit of a disappointment.
There is a great Tupac Shakur movie somewhere in there. In fact, if this movie was about extended another 40 minutes, maybe even clocking in at 3 hours and 30 minutes, this might’ve been a masterpiece. Instead, this movie seems like it might’ve been butchered in the editing room. For example, Lauren Cohen, from The Walking Dead, is third name billed in this movie, yet she has literally less than 90 seconds of screen time. She plays one of the people that first got Tupac his start with Digital Underground. And we are told this, yet she’s in the movie for less than 90 seconds. I feel maybe she was meant to be in there 15 to 20 minutes but her part was cut. You have also probably heard by now that Jada Pinkett doesn’t approve of the movie because of how they portrayed her and Tupac’s friendship. She might be right. The person that plays her is hardly in there as well, and their relationship is told to us rather than shown to us, and she is maybe in the film less than 5 minutes. Her character is gone for 100 minutes, and then she randomly shows up at the end to argue with Tupac backstage, which according to the real Jada Pinkett, didn’t really happen.
Sorry, my review isn’t really focused and is going all over the place. And that is the point I am trying to make. The movie goes from womb to grave, and the genius of Tupac probably shouldn’t have been reduced to just 2 hours and 20 minutes. It maybe should’ve been a limited series on HBO or Netflix. We are told and shown some of the stuff that made Tupac genius and inspirational…but not enough. And the stuff we are shown, is in and out within a snap of your fingers. The movie also spends wayyy too much time when Tupac is in prison for a rape charge that he supposedly had nothing to do with (no judgement here). While it proved a point or two, I don’t think it warranted 30 minutes, where I and the audience could’ve used 30 minutes added on somewhere else.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a terrible movie by any means. It is completely watchable and at times very engaging. It’s just all over the place and not focused. What Straight Outta Compton did right was focus on the very beginning of N.W.A. and then was smart to stop right after Easy-E’s death. It didn’t show any of them from birth or much of the aftermath afterward, and that made the film solid, tight, and perfect. Maybe this film should’ve focused on when he first started to his death and cut out some of the childhood fat. I don’t know. Like I said, I think a limited series would’ve been perfect for this.
The performances are all spectacular. The actor that plays Tupac, Demetrius Shipp Jr., not only looks like him, but portrays him perfectly with the actual Tupac footage that I have seen. Danai Gurira, another Walking Dead alum (she plays Michonne), as Tupac’s mother, is spectacular as well. There is no problem with the acting here. And no problem with the music either. It is all re enacted to absolute perfection. But Tupac’s true message about what he was trying to do gets lost somewhere in the film, and you can blame it on the film not being solid. The story would at times would contradict his message and then there wouldn’t be any message at all at times, and it was all very frustrating.
This movie is just too all over the place and rushed for me to recommend really. Maybe a one time watch, but it isn’t continually watchable like Straight Outta Compton is. This movie does want me to check out Notorious though and see Biggie’s side of the story. If you are going into this looking for maybe more info on Tupac’s death, you might be disappointed. The movie kind of gives you several suspects, and let’s you maybe try to guess what happened on your own. But if I want to watch a truly great biopic about rap and its legends, its strong message, and its solid focus, I will always put in Straight Outta Compton, and All Eyez On Me will probably never enter my mind for me to stick it in my blu ray player.