REVIEW: All Eyez on Me
Directed by Benny Boom
By Christopher Spencer
Directed by Benny Boom, All Eyez on Me stars Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira, Jamal Woolard, Kat Graham, and Dominic L. Santana. This is the long-delayed biopic about Tupac Shakur, detailing the eclectic rapper’s early life, his tumultuous success, and eventual untimely death.
To start off, I am not a fan of Tupac’s music. I do love a large amount of 90s rap as well as modern artists like Childish Gambino and Kendrick Lamar, but Tupac’s work never had what I wanted. So I was not going into All Eyez on Me with this large emotional connection to the real man, nor a huge expectation on the movie itself.
Looking at this movie as a film fan, All Eyez on Me is not anything much. In fact, while it boasts strong and spirited performances from Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac and Danai Gurira as Afeni Shakur, as well as some decent writing, All Eyez on Me is poorly directed, paced, shot and edited.
I’ve never even heard of a director named “Benny Boom”, and probably for good reason. This movie features incredibly repetitive scenes and a glacially paced story that not only fails to give Tupac’s life the real impact it deserves, it also makes All Eyez on Me incredibly tedious. The 140-minute running time is sorely felt as nothing really happens that people don’t already know.
The only thing I can draw comparison to for this movie is 2015’s illuminating biopic Straight Outta Compton. All Eyez on Me just assumes that everyone watching knows EXACTLY who all the people in each scene are and they don’t care about this movie actually being cinematic. Straight Outta Compton on the other hand took its time at first to set-up who each member of the group was, as well as later characters who become vital to the story. That film also features beautiful cinematography by Matthew Libatique that strengthens the narrative and allows the necessary emotions to pour through the frame.
All Eyez on Me hits all the expected notes for anyone looking for a basic recap of the major points of Tupac Shakur’s life, so the movie is not a total failure. It just doesn’t take the audience on any kind of journey, looks and feels like a made-for-TV movie, and is quite perplexing in its technical choices. All Eyez on Me is an example of a movie that should have CREATED more fans for its source material, instead of only pleasing the existing die-hard ones.