All Eyez On Me – The Film Beyond The Hype

“I always wanted to make a book out of my life, like a fairy tale.
Raised by the Black Panthers and strung out”

— Tupac, 1988 Interview

After a movie is successful there will be many who try to follow that blueprint.

Straight Outta Compton was a movement.

Powered by involved producers and a major corporation, Universal, the film sought to bring to life the stories of life on the West Coast in the 1980s.

F. Gary Gray handled directing and his fingerprints is seen all through the film from the attention grabbing opening to the recreation of the L.A. Riots.

This film also benefitted from the subject’s members, N.W.A, all being alive with the exception of Eazy E.

Grossing $56 million it’s opening weekend and having legitimate Oscar buzz during award season this film was truly a masterpiece.

When speaking on the movie the producer L.T. Hutton put the film up against Straight Outta Compton saying it can stand along side it and a future film about Death Row Records as the truth of the era.

“I created the Holy Trinity. It’s who Tupac was, who he wanted to be and who he had to be to survive in the world he was introduced to.”

— L.T. Hutton, Breakfast Club Interview

I looked at All Eyez On Me as an opportunity to build a world.

In the era of Marvel Cinematic Universe and DCEU with superheroes intertwining through various films I thought the Tupac movie as a way to bridge the gap.

Straight Outta Compton laid the groundwork on how to tell an engaging hip hop story that matched up with Ray and Walk The Line, surpassing both as the highest grossing musical biopic of all time.

So when All Eyez On Me released it’s casting I was disappointed.

When Tupac appeared in Straight Outta Compton I was speechless and it felt right.

When John Singleton expressed desire to direct this film with actor Marcc Rose I was on of the many on board.

Unbeknownst to me at the time Rose used a voiceover for his scene with Darius Love providing the voice so the dream of seeing him in a full length movie as Tupac seemed unreasonable.

There are many controversies with this movie from rumors that the producers sued Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother, to gain the rights to this music.

Or the back and forth saga of director John Singleton leaving production citing creative differences.

But on Tupac’s birthday the film was finally released.

All Eyez On Me beat box office expectations with a respectable $25 million in it’s first weekend against a $40 million budget.

But while Straight Outta Compton had controversy’s with it’s portrayal of Dr. Dre and his relationship with women All Eyez On Me suffered from fans and critics alike with cries of inaccuracies.

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Both films were effected by word of mouth, the Straight Outta Somewhere generator was a huge success with superstars like LeBron James using it to promote their hometowns.

But All Eyez On Me buzz was mainly negative.

First John Singleton criticized the film for not letting him, who actually knew Tupac & featured him in Poetic Justice, from writing a screenplay along with direct the film.

Then shortly after release Jada Pinkett Smith corrected the film’s portrayal of their friendship in the movie citing certain events never happened.

This caused Twitter users to create inaccuracies that also would’ve fit in the film from iPhones to current dances.

There were some great performances including the titular character.

Though not perfect Demetrius Shipp captured Tupac’s essence.

You could tell he studied for the role & fans can see Tupac’s humor & intensity throughout the film.

Kat Graham, the actress who played Jada Pinkett Smith, sounded like her and got her swagger down pact even eliciting compliments from Smith herself.

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Though I disagreed with not having R. Marcus Taylor reprise his role as Suge Knight (Straight Outta Compton, Surviving Compton) Dominic L Santana & Shipp played well off of each other showing how Suge & Tupac built a friendship.

Even side characters who were integral in Pac’s life were impressive.

Both Shock G & Money B’s actors had be convinced they were playing themselves.

I loved that Gravy Woodard reprised he role as Biggie. And even though it’s small I wish they chose the same actress who played Faith Evans in Notorious to reprise her role.

Lastly Danai Gurira (Walking Dead, Treme) did a fabolous job playing Ms. Afeni. She captured the spirit and soul of both being in the Black Panthers & struggling with substance abuse.

My favorite parts of the movie was it’s costume design and music editing.

It was so great seeing Tupac decked out in the clothes of the day with Walker Wear & Karl Kani being on board.

Also the music editing was amazing. Hearing Tupac’s actual voice when either performing or there was a powerful moment it felt like Pac was narrating his own life.

When California Love came on I almost fell out of my seat for bouncing up and down too hard.

Every time it felt necessary the film would bring a song through that communicated how he felt.

The movie was no means perfect with both Straight Outta Compton & All Eyez On Me using Hail Mary in the wrong setting, Tupac recorded the song after Dr. Dre had left the label and he never performed during the House of Blues set.

The scene where Tupac stares directly at the screen and screams “I’m back” was so laughably corny.

And now the film’s producers are being sued by Kevin Powell for lifting dialogue from his VIBE article of Tupac during his stay in Prison.

He walked this earth for 25 years and had so much accomplished and trying to fit his life in a 2 & a half hour epic didn’t work.

Spike Lee gave Malcolm X’s story nearly 4 hours to show the transition from Detroit Red to El Hajj Malik Shabazz.

Tupac’s life would be best told through television.

Suzanne DePasse’s The Temptations & Jacksons: An American Dream then more recently BET’s The New Edition Story gave time to explore and go deep into these icons past and present.

From Afeni’s work as a Black Panther & the Shakur bloodline (Mutulu, Assata) then the Digital Underground era, his friends with Treach & Stretch, shooting films like Juice & recording albums like Me Against The World then the arrest & shooting then his going to Death Row & finally his untimely demise.

It’s unfair to cram this saga into one singular movie.

That’s why there are so many documentaries and albums still being released with new vocals.

But this film is a good start to learning about the man, the myth, the legend: Tupac Amaru Shakur.