Going in to see the All Eyez on Me I didn't know much about Tupac other than being familiar with his music and I hoped that the biopic would give me insight on who he was as a human being. I expected to leave the theatre with more knowledge about an iconic artist, but instead I left absolutely furious. All I saw was a bunch of shit happen to Tupac without any sense of how it shaped him. So, I guess I have to say there are spoiler alerts ahead? Whatever.
A good biopic will give the audience access to the inner workings of its subject by showing intimate moments so authentically that the audience gets a deep understanding of the subjects' essence. None of this happens in All Eyez on Me and it's a shame because if the filmmakers treated it with any amount of respect, I truly believe this film could have created a wave of change.
The last clip in the film is a video of Tupac giving an interview for MTV in which he says, "I'm not saying I'm gonna rule the world, or I'm gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world," and I thought to myself... I didn't see much of that mentality throughout the film! Also, just because that's the last image we see doesn't mean we're gonna forget about how awful the film was. Quite the contrary: as soon as I got home I started researching Tupac Amaru Shakur because I knew that the filmmakers led me astray.
I must've watched and listened to almost every interview Tupac ever gave and let me tell you that five minutes of one interview (literally any interview) will give you a better sense of who he was than the entire 140 minutes (yup, it's 2 1/2 hours long) of whatever the hell they put in theaters.
In an interview conducted with the Los Angeles Times a week after Tupac was released from prison in 1995, he says that the Baltimore School of Performing Arts influences all of his work. He goes on to reference Les Miserables, Gospel at Colonus, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet and he uses certain themes in some of them as metaphors for living in the ghetto. His extensive knowledge and appreciation for classics was hardly shown in the film. They used Shakespeare quotes in ways that made my soul scream, but the worst was when Tupac is trying to help Biggie understand the power of their platform. The camera angle is a two shot with just Pac and Biggie, but as soon as Tupac begins quoting from Julius Caesar, the camera angle adjusts to a wide shot of Tupac, Biggie and a pair of bare DD's along with five other nearly naked girls. I wish I was joking. It was as if the filmmakers didn't trust the audience to care enough about the intellect of Tupac.
While he was in jail, he did get interviewed as the film suggests, but of course the real life interview was far more interesting and insightful. In it, Tupac speaks about how he was in solitary confinement for 8 months and was going crazy, but finally pulled himself up and started reading and writing again. He mentions reading The Art of War and Niccolò Machiavelli (which influenced his nickname Makaveli) and how he wants his music to have the affect of Shakespeare, Lorraine Hainsbury, Marvin Gaye... he wanted to transcend time and his circumstances with his voice. He also spoke about wanting to be more involved in his communities. I am so confused as to why this was not shown! He spoke about the prison being on lock down because a lifer killed another inmate the day before - he did not say, "I got some life changing advice from an inmate that's serving a life sentence, so I think I'm ready to let go of my anger now." Guys, that is what they show in the film... WHYYYY!? Showing someone who's from the circumstances that Pac was from letting go of their anger and vengeance while incarcerated by putting an emphasis on furthering his mind and educating himself would have been so much more powerful than anything the filmmakers decided to do.
I just can't understand how a movie about someone so powerful and intelligent can lack so much power and intelligence. It was as if they wanted to make sure to include everything and they ended up showing us nothing.
I have so much more I could say about this, but I guess the most important thing I want to say is that I wish they would have captured more of what made Tupac special. He always voiced his opinion and really wanted people to understand where he was coming from; he wanted people to constantly be opening their minds and learning about the world and those around them. I highly encourage you to do your own Tupac research because when I started googling and reading books, I did not expect to be as moved by him as I have been and now I feel as though a piece of me has grown. As much as this movie was a disappointment, it encouraged me to do my own searching into Tupac's soul and I am beyond grateful that I did. I'm going to leave you with a few poems that Pac wrote (and were published in The Rose That Grew From Concrete posthumously) that hopefully will show you what type of film could have (and still can be) made.
Let me know what you thought of the film and what you think of Pac.