The new Tupac Shakur biopic "All Eyez on Me" is more like a Lifetime made-for-TV movie than a polished big-screen production.
Not to insult Lifetime's biopics, (they've had some nice ones like "Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart", "Whitney", and "Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B"), but this film is a bad depiction of the controversial and already well-documented life of the legendary rapper.
But it's also what fans were expecting when music video mogul Benny Boom was announced as the director.
In no way does Boom do justice to the story of Tupac, from his youth, rise to fame and untimely death at the age of 25. Instead, the film appears to have been created to get the last squeeze out of the two-decades strong posthumous Tupac cash cow.
When Boom was appointed, the video producer wrote on Instagram: "I am blessed with the opportunity of a lifetime. Telling the story of this revolutionary, artist, visionary, genius, soldier! I will make him proud and uphold the legacy."
Well, now that I've seen the film I can guarantee you that Boom failed and that the script itself was mediocre.
Perhaps the film went through too many hands. It was said to have been in development for years and saw key people dropping in and out, while the script was amended with every new team.
Tupac had a brief yet fireball career, but the director gives us a clumsy and bland walk down memory lane, giving little insight into the thoughts, fearless personality and talent of the subject.
One obvious missed opportunity, which appears to have received the same reaction in cinemas where the movie was screened, is at the end of the movie when text pops up reminding one how impactful and young the rapper was at the time of his September 1996 death in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, which has still not been solved.
The film follows an "and then this happened" formula that's uninspiring and reeks of laziness. What's also problematic about "All Eyez on Me" is that the rapper is let off the hook for his bad actions and misogyny, particularly in the portrayal of the sexual abuse case for which Tupac was convicted in 1994.
Jada Pinkett Smith, played by Kat Graham in the film, reportedly wasn't happy either about the way her friendship with Tupac was depicted.
"Forgive me ... my relationship to Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in "All Eyez on Me" to stand as truth," Pinkett-Smith tweeted. "The reimagining of my relationship to Pac has been deeply hurtful."
"All Eyez on Me" is a sad contrast to the power of Tupac's words that have captivated fans over the years. But Demetrius Shipp junior, who looks like the rapper, is impressive despite the fact that the movie fails to show the talents of its subject.
City Press film review: "All Eyez on Me"
Director: Benny Boom
Starring: Demetrius Shipp Jr, Kat Graham
Watch the trailer here: