Im sorry, but “ALL EYEZ ON ME” was terrible.
All of the significant details that framed Tupac’s life are so glossed over. The movie delivers in a very, “this happened, then this happened, and oh…lets not forget about this-real-quick” type of fashion. Two and a half hours is PLENTY of time to effectively illustrate the high’s, low’s and in-between’s that made Tupac the lyrical and prophetic force he became. The film never even makes mention of his mainstream role in “Poetic Justice”. Leila Steinberg, the woman who was basically Tupac’s mentor and central introduction to performance art appears for literally ONE scene. Tupac lived with Leila and her husband for YEARS. Her role in his life was pivotal to his segue into being on stage in front of mainstream audiences. How was her presence reduced to a forty-five second appearance? There’s also no mention whatsoever of the woman Keisha who Tupac married while he was in jail.
The entire production is just so singular. We never get into the mind of Tupac Shakur or delve between the layers of his fears, his internal struggles or the seeds of his unique artistry. “All Eyez On Me” is nothing more than an expensive snapshot of the headlines that most of us 30 and over are already aware of. The ONLY “detail” or tidbit of information that the movie introduced me to is the fact that Tupac was involved in a long term relationship with Quincy Jones’ daughter, Kidada. I had no idea that she was the main woman in his life up until his death.
The film is just so horribly directed by Benny Boom. It’s very difficult to believe that he graduated from Temple Universities film program. There’s absolutely no visual illustration. The narrative isn’t painted on screen. The entire script and overall production spoon feeds the audience – as if we are pure idiots. We jump back and forth CONSTANTLY between scenes of Hill Harper interviewing Tupac in jail circa 1995 and then the actual events unfolding before us as Hill & Tupac verbally discuss them. It’s juvenile filmmaking and a trite cinematic tactic.
The ONLY real standout acting performance stems from Danai Gurira who stars as Afeni Shakur. Her facial and verbal delivery is superb in comparison to the other pedestrian players. I’m not taking anything away from Demetrius Shipp who stars as Tupac, but he seemed to merely be going through the motions during half of his screen time. If it were not for him physically resembling Tupac to the core, I would not have been convinced of the passion, the power and intensity that evoked the spirit of Tupac. “All Eyez On Me” just is not a good film overall and I would much rather see a seasoned director take on such masterful work in another box office or 6-8 part, television series release.
People are jumping on John Singleton for wanting to include a jail rape scene in his version of the Tupac story, as well as Tupac talking to a severed head, but the common, everyday individual has no idea what real life information Singleton was privy to. Tupac may have really been raped in jail, but of course, his image and hyper masculine presence forced him and the public alike to deny such claims. John Singleton’s inclusion of the severed head and having Tupac talking to this image of himself illustrated Tupac’s love of Shakespeare and the battle of man vs. himself. I would have preferred that type of visual storytelling, as opposed to this pitiful L.T. Hutton/Benny Boom version that has Tupac randomly quoting bits and pieces of ‘Hamlet’ throughout the film. UGH!
…and lets not even talk about the monstrosity that is the ending. Would it have killed the creative team to show Afeni battling with the heavy decision to pull the plug on Tupac’s life support?…or even to show Tupac laying on his death bed and shaking the mattresses with both hands clamped down at his sides because he had something he wanted to GET OUT, but could not speak? THESE are the stories that have been told by close friends who visited him between September 6, 1996 and September 13, 1996. The film should NOT have ended with Tupac’s body laid out on the Vegas strip and a slew of title cards plastered across the screen highlighting his “Hollywood” achievements. The gospel music that played beneath the ending scene was very misplaced and drowned out the heavy emotion.
I don’t care what the millennials are saying about “All Eyez On Me”. It was terribly spliced together, and in such a way that reflected a very amateur team behind-the-scenes. I saw the film yesterday afternoon at the Columbia AMC here in Maryland and I left the theater feeling extremely disappointed. “All Eyez On Me” pales in comparison to every black film released between last summer 2016 and present day.
DO NOT WASTE YOUR COINS! Wait for this pedestrian mess to be released ON DEMAND and in DVD/Blu-Ray format.