Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – The Man With The Iron Fists 2

Year of Release: 2015

Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Arcade Pictures/Strike Entertainment

In the past, when I saw that there was a sequel of The Man With The Iron Fists that was made, I was baffled and not baffled at the same time. It wasn’t until recently that I found out how the first film did in its theatrical run. However, for it to have green-lit a sequel, I could only guess that a lot of units of the DVD and/or Blu Ray sold when it came out on home video. That, and maybe RZA also wrote a screenplay for the film which then got Universal to make it happen.

Like the first film, RZA had more than just a couple of credits as he yet again starred in it, as well as co-wrote the screenplay, and composed the film’s score. He also had an executive producer credit (Along with Eli Roth, the predecessor’s co-writer) and a music supervisor credit for the film, which for some reason was listed as his real name, Robert F. Diggs, whereas the other credits he was credited by his stage name. However, UNLIKE the first film, he didn’t direct it this time, as it was directed by Roel Reine, who is known for directed a lot of straight-to-video sequels. I will admit that I have seen a good amount of his films, ranging from the Death Race prequels, Hard Target 2, and sequels to a few WWE Studios films such as The Marine 2, The Condemned 2, and 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded. What can I say? I have a strange thing for straight-to-video sequels, not to mention that I am also a wrestling fan.

With a different director at the helm this time, it had a different feel to the first film. As far as any returning characters go, RZA’s character, Thaddeus, is the only one to return. Sure, there were some flashback sequences to some characters from its predecessor, but only two of them were played by the same actors. It’s a totally different story this time, too, as Thaddeus went to a different village to seek a temple to make peace with himself. He was found wounded by some villagers and then found himself in the middle of a power conflict in that same village. I will say that RZA had more of a presence this time around, despite having not been seen for a half hour after the first scene he was in.

Another thing that was different this time around were the fight sequences with some characters. It appeared that a lot of the fight scenes included some legitimate martial artists and weren’t reliant on the use of wires. But was jarring were the editing and odd camera angles during those scenes. For example, one scene had two men fighting and then there were bird’s eye camera angles and then moved close to them and then changed angles, rinse and repeat. That didn’t take away from the fact that the fighting in those scenes was good, though, just the editing and cuts were a bit distracting.

Carl Ng, who played the main villain, Master Ho, seemed like he was having a blast playing that role. It’s like he really brought his A-game to it and was committed to it. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa did a good job in his role, too, and the twist/revelation towards the end was definitely something that I would not have expected and he is good as always. As for RZA, he didn’t do a bad job in his role. My main guess is that he was more or less swamped with a lot of his duties in the first film that he didn’t put a lot of effort into the role. He still has room for improvement as an actor, but he did a better job in this film (I didn’t mind him in Brick Mansions, looking back).

RZA also handled the score pretty well. I have always admired him as a producer and I think he should do film scores a lot more. But also like in the first film, there were some rap songs played in some scenes. Now I liked what I had heard, but the song just felt out of place and was just too anachronistic for this.

I must say that I found myself enjoying this film more than I thought that I would. I even enjoyed it more than the first film. A lot of the action scenes were actually decent, especially the big climax. As said before, the fight scenes could have been better without the odd edits and camera angles, but that’s about as far as I could go in regards to the flaws. I wonder now if RZA is planning to do a third film. Only time will tell.

3.5/5

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Rap Movie Reviews

Rap Movie Review – The Man With The Iron Fists

Year of Release: 2012

Film Studio: Universal Pictures/Strike Entertainment/Arcade Pictures

When listening to a Wu-Tang album, it should be of no secret that RZA is a huge fan of Kung Fu flicks. It’s obvious by hearing some clips of them in some songs, especially in “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” Hell, there was a Kung Fu theme for their video game, “Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style,” a game I should cover one day. RZA has made it known that he is a fan and it is obvious with this film, “The Man With The Iron Fists.”

This film was basically RZA’s pet project as he has about five different credits for this film. That’s right, he had not only directed this film, but also came up with the story outline, he co-wrote the script with Eli Roth, he composed the film’s score, and of course, he also starred in the film. That must have been tiring for him as it’s not easy to have multiple duties like that. However, the only thing that was first for him was that it was his major film directorial debut as it was not the first time he had acted or composed a score, nor was it the first time he had come up with a film idea.

In the past, there was an idea that he wanted to get off the ground, which was a film adaptation of his Bobby Digital character, not to mention a trailer (or short film) was released in 2000 of it. Two years before TMWTIF came out, a short film called “Wu-Tang vs. The Golden Phoenix” had come out. It seemed like a precursor to this film as it has the same style. According to some sources, the development for this film came about not long after RZA had done the score for the “Kill Bill” films, which is probably the reason why Quentin Tarantino had his name as the presenter of the film, despite having no credits in this film at all. At some point, RZA had met Eli Roth and they had co-written the script and at some point, the script was rewritten and Roth was disappointed in the rewrite, that they had to change it up again. However, when the film was pitched to producers, they had trusted RZA to direct after having seen “Wu-Tang vs. The Golden Phoenix.”

As noted before, this was quite a step for RZA, especially having multiple credits in this film, but what about the film itself? How was the film? Well, before I get into that, I will note two things. One, I remember having a written a review of this film for my college newspaper back when it came out. I remembered I had praised the film, but so much time had passed that I was not sure where I stood with it. I gave it a lot of credit because I am a Wu-Tang fan and enjoyed some of the fight scenes, but at a certain point, I looked back and thought it was cheesy. The other thing that I must note is that for this review, I had decided to watch both the theatrical version and the unrated extended edition back-to-back to see the differences. It wouldn’t be the first time that I had watched two different cuts of a film back-to-back.

The film’s plot involved a faction, a British soldier, and some others on the hunt for gold, while a blacksmith (Played by RZA), who makes weapons for assassins and warriors, has to defend the village that is being invaded. It seems like a plot that had been done before, but I think that is what RZA was going for as it was done as a tribute to martial arts films from the 1970’s. But even with a simple story like that, it just seemed like it was all over the place.

There were some known names in this film, such as Lucy Liu, who played Madam Blossom, a madam for a brothel in the village, and Russell Crowe, who played Jack Knife, the mysterious British soldier whose presence was unknown until the end of the film. According to IMDB, Crowe had agreed to do this film in return for RZA teaching some rap lessons to a rugby team Crowe co-owns, as well as that he only worked on this film for 10 days. He must have been rather consistent in the time of shooting because he had a lot of screen-time. Actually, Liu and Crowe didn’t do a bad job in their performances in this film. Another known name, Dave Bautista, better known as Batista in WWE, as well as his portrayal of Drax in the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films, mainly played a brute in this film. He didn’t really have much to work with than just be a big, hulking brute who can turn his body into brass. But what about RZA? That is a really good question. For a guy who is supposed to be the title character, he took a backseat to a lot of the events of the film, whether it was with the villains, Crowe’s character, Liu’s character, or even Bautista’s character. Sure, he had to direct it for the most part, and he had screen-time, but he didn’t really have a lot to do, nor did he really act well in his role. It’s true that he has acting credits in his name, but he really isn’t much of an actor.

What this film shined in were the fight scenes, as a lot of the choreography was well-done for those scenes, especially the use of wires for the aerial attacks. Also the score from RZA was done well, too, as the music went well with the scenes that the tracks were used in. But what was distracting in the fight sequences was the use of CGI blood. Just looking at the blood squirting out of the wounds in those sequences can’t look any more fake than it already is. It would have been better if there were blood squibs used in those scenes to make it look more real. Also, about the music, while I loved how there was a remix of “Shame on a N****” used in a scene, as well as “Unpredictable,” it just felt slightly out of place as it was anachronistic, but then again, even some other anachronistic songs were used in some other sequences.

I have to give RZA some credit for this film as he is really passionate about martial arts films, but the end result just came out as average at best, with the cons slightly outweighing the pros. The story was not all that great and it really hard to follow what was really going on. Also, while some characters had a purpose in the plot, some of them were not really needed to drive the story. Some of the story aspects were vague. Some of the actors’ performances were fine, and with a film like this, the acting is not really essential to make it good, as this film’s selling point was the action itself. The action and the fighting were actually among the pros, but something about them was taken away with the use of CGI blood. The film didn’t hold up from my first viewing of it when I saw it in theaters, but it really was not terrible either. It didn’t deserve the praise that I gave it back then, but I didn’t mind it, either. It’s not a terrible way to spend a boring day with nothing to do.

One more thing, I am aware that there is a sequel to this film, but it’s straight-to-video. I guess RZA had some more story to tell and the film didn’t do well in theaters enough to justify a theatrical release for the sequel (It was shot on $15 million but made only $19 million). I will get to that soon. The same will be said about the soundtrack for this film.

If you want to read my original review, click here. Thank you.

5/10

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Album Reviews

Album Review: Gravediggaz – Nightmare in A-Minor

Year of Release: 2001/2002

Record Label: Empire Musicwerks/BMG Music

Here I am in my final Gravediggaz album review, which is of their third and final album, and also as part of my horrorcore special (That doesn’t I can’t do horrorcore album reviews outside of Halloween-time).

Before I get into the review of the album, it must be noted about the background of this album. By the time this album was already in production, the two main producers, RZA and Prince Paul, respectively known by their aliases “The RZArector” and “The Undertaker,” (I often wonder if there was copyright infringement on the name because it was shared with the well-known pro wrestler, despite the title being an actual profession) had left the group. It was even noted in the liner notes in the CD booklet that RZA had other obligations to attend to (During that time, he was likely working on his solo second album, “Digital Bullet,” along with the two Wu-Tang Clan albums, “The W” and “Iron Flag,” and likely also working on production on solo albums from Wu members).

Also, during the time this album was being produced, Too Poetic, also known as Grym Reaper, was suffering from cancer and in spite of it, he still gave it his all in his contribution to the album. He passed away not long before the release of this album. So it was fitting that this was released as a posthumous album. It also should be noted that with the absence of Prince Paul and RZA, this album was produced by Frukwan (Gatekeeper), Poetic, True Master (who had contributed to “The Pick, The Sickle and The Shovel”), Diamond J, and LG. So with or without RZA and Prince Paul, it had no effect on the quality of the album.

Anyway, how does this album compare to “6 Feet Deep” or “The Pick, The Sickle and The Shovel”? Well, credit is given where credit is due. Some of the instrumentals in some of the tracks were a little weaker than its predecessors, though the lyrical content is still really sharp. The instrumental used for the skit, “Last Man Standing,” was eerie, as it was not only produced by Frukwan and Poetic, but also True Master, Diamond J, and LG.

The first actual song on the album, “Bloodshed,” actually kicked the album off on a high note. Frukwan and Poetic delivered some great rhymes mixed in with a dope beat.

Also, it seemed that there were some appearances from Wu affiliates once again. “False Things Must Perish” had an appearance from Prodigal Sunn, of Sunz of Man, which is funny because Killah Priest and Shabazz appeared on the previous album. Yet, another member appeared on this one. There was also an appearance from Shogun The Assasson, of Killarmy, another group affiliated with Wu-Tang. He appeared on the song, “Man Only Fears.” Both rappers did a good job in their respective appearances.

I can’t think of a lot of negative things to say about this album, except for maybe a couple of tracks, which were “Running Game On Real” and “Wanna Break,” but their flaws were mainly the beats. The beats sounded rather messy and too bassy for my tastes.

Frukwan and Poetic did a great job in the lyrics in all of the songs, but I have to give a lot of credit to Poetic for even going so far as to rap about his illness in “Burn Baby Burn.”

Yo, pain builds my character
Deranged cancer cell begin to damage my shell
Tissues begin to swell
A human pin-cushion needles begin pushin’
Through my, melanin color, blood begins gushin’
Hunger, pain is, fed through my veins
Tryin’ to maintain body and brain under strain
Belly bein’ drained from my nose through a catheter
To maintain my stamina, game is high caliber
Flashback my dossier file before the hospital
Lots’ll pay a pile of cheddar to see me rock my style
Got lots of smiles from man woman and child
A grave digga here runnin’ wild like the Nile
Ghetto, X-File, the horoscope bringers
City morgue singers, new rap era beginners
Four years out of seven I remember tourin’
And this year I’m measurin’ my urine

I didn’t know this when I bought this album, but it appeared that there was an original version of this album. There was actually an original release that had come out a few months after Poetic’s death and according to a review on Amazon.com, it said that there were a couple of extra tracks on it. Also, what was noted was that there were different beats used on certain tracks, for example, “Bloodshed” had a different beat on the 2001 release. I am now curious about getting my hands on this version so that I can hear the differences, though I COULD listen to them on YouTube, but still.

Overall, issues with the production aside, being that it was slightly weak (But by no means bad), this album was actually a good swan song for this group. It is a shame what happened to Poetic because he had the skills and talent to really shine as a solo artist. Frukwan later released his own album after that, which I may check out down the road one day. I might even check out his work with Stetsasonic. This was actually a decent album.

3.5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Bloodshed
  2. False Things Must Perish
  3. Burn Baby Burn
  4. Man Only Fears
  5. Nightmare in A-Minor
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Album Review: Gravediggaz – The Pick, The Sickle and The Shovel

Year of Release: 1997

Record Label: Gee Street Records

Round 2 for my Gravediggaz marathon is now on. Here we go. This album was a total contrast to “6 Feet Deep” as it had more of a socially conscious sound to it with a lot of the content sounding more calm than before. However, that is not to say that there weren’t any horror elements to the tracks.

Another thing that differs from its predecessor was that Prince Paul was barely involved in this album, as RZA had more of a hand in the production this time around, as well as Wu-Tang producers, 4th Disciple and True Master. In fact, 4th Disciple and RZA both co-produced the album’s lead single, “Dangerous Mindz.” Not to mention that was one of the very few songs on the album that RZA rapped on. Too Poetic and Frukwan (or should I say Grym Reaper and Gatekeeper, their alternate names, respectively?) actually provided more of the lyrical content on this one. A couple of examples that had those two rapping on them were “Da Bomb” and “Unexplained.”

RZA shined on his lone solo track, “Twelve Jewelz.” While he may excel as a producer more than as a rapper, he has shown a lot of talent as a rapper himself and this song is proof. He has done some good solo work, too, but that is a topic for another day.

Now that I think about it, there is a little more Wu-Tang influence on this album as opposed to its predecessor. As mentioned before, there were tracks that RZA produced, along with the aforementioned producers, 4th Disciple and True Master, but then there were two tracks that were produced by Goldfinghaz and one from Darkim Be Allah. Let’s not forget that there were appearances by Killah Priest, Shabazz The Disciple and Hell Razah. So most of the Sunz of Man appeared on here. I am surprised that Prodigal Sunn and 60 Second Assassin didn’t appear. There could have been the whole group on there. Hell, I am surprised that some other Wu affiliates didn’t appear, or even the Wu-Tang Clan members. It would have been interesting to hear ODB, Meth, Rae, or Ghostface on this. Yes, I am aware that Gravediggaz was a side thing that RZA was involved in, but this album had the feel of a Wu-Tang album, whether it’s of the main group or even other members of the Wu empire. Either way, their involvement in the album did it justice. The three members of Sunz of Man did a good job on their appearances, especially in “Repentance Day.”

What about the horrorcore style on this album? As noted before, this album had a different feel in comparison to the first album, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t there. There were some songs that had somewhat of that feel. “Repentance Day,” “Pit of Snakes,” “Da Bomb,” and “Unexplained” were among the primary examples. Then you had the conscious songs. One of the standout tracks of that example was “The Night The Earth Cried.” There were such deep lyrics and a nice somber beat to go with it.

It seemed that this album was given average ratings when it came out. In my personal opinion, I really don’t think that this album is average, per se, and it’s definitely far from bad. While I won’t say that it’s as great as “6 Feet Deep,” it still stands on its own as an above-average album and it’s worthy of listening to. I wish that Prince Paul had more involvement in this one, though the production from RZA and his fellow Wu producers was still good.

4/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Dangerous Mindz
  2. The Night The Earth Cried
  3. Repentance Day
  4. Fairytalz
  5. Elimination Process
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Album Reviews

Album Review: Gravediggaz – 6 Feet Deep

Year of Release: 1994

Record Label: Gee Street Records

It must be said: Horrorcore rap may seem like something that is rarely heard of, but it is not as uncommon as one would think. While I may have covered some of the bases in my review of the Flatlinerz album, one must know that while that album may have been rather infamous for some subject matter, that one actually came out AFTER the debut album of the Gravediggaz.

The Gravediggaz was a horrorcore supergroup that consisted of RZA (As the Rzarector), Prince Paul (As The Undertaker, not to be confused of the professional wrestler of the same name), and two rappers named Frukwan and Too Poetic, who respectively went by the aliases of The Gatekeeper and The Grym Reaper. According to some sources, the album was initially supposed to be titled “N***amortis,” but was changed to help appeal to the American audience.

When you actually listen to the tracks of this album, the songs really had that horror vibe to them. Prince Paul had a hand at most of the production of this album, if not almost all of it. A lot of the beats sounded rather unsettling. The verses from each of the rappers who provided the vocals each did a good job with it. RZA’s verse from “1-800 Suicide” was REALLY unsettling. Shabazz The Disciple of the Sunz of Man, a group that is affiliated with Wu-Tang, provided a dope verse in “Diary of a Madman,” one of the album’s best tracks:

Bear witness, as I exercise my exorcism
The evil that lurks within the sin, the terrorism
Possessed by evil spirits, voices from the dead
I come forth with Gravediggaz in a head full of dread
I’ve been examined ever since I was semen
They took a sonogram and seen the image of a demon
At birth, nurses surrounded me with needles
and drugged me all up with the diseases of evil
Grew up in hell, now I dwell in an Islamic Temple
I’m fighting a holy war in the mental
Look deep into my eyes, you’ll see visions of death
Possessed by homicide is what I’m obsessed
Giving niggaz brain dimples
Dragging they asses on my hook by they temples
The cause of death is unknown to the cops
Cause when I kill them, I’m not leavin one element to autopse
First I’ll assassinate em
And them I’ll cremate them
and take all of his fucking ashes and evaporate em
Or creep through the graveyard and hunt down your tombstone
Dig up your skeleton and stomp all your fucking bones
You try to haunt me nigga, I ain’t trying to hear it
Buck Buck Buck, I’ll give your ass a holy spirit.

Speaking of that song, that was one of the few tracks on this album that RZA had his hand in the production, though Prince Paul had produced some of it, too. Not to mention that it was probably the only track that had some Wu affiliates on it, Shabazz and Killah Priest. Also, according to a review that I read about this album, RZA provided a sample of an unused Wu-Tang demo, and then you have a sample from a Johnny Mathis song that sounds like it came straight from an old horror film.

Every song on here had a vibe of rage. “Bang Your Head” is a great example, as well as “Graveyard Chamber.” Then you have some songs that just sound really creepy, like the title track. It wasn’t just the beats that gave an unsettling vibe, it was also the delivery of the verses, one example being “Nowhere To Run, Nowhere To Hide.”

It’s been 23 years since this album had come out and it still holds up. It may be a horrorcore album (Not that it’s a bad thing), but you can listen to it like any other hip-hop album and just try to look past the violent and hateful lyrics. It is top-to-bottom a great album, even the interludes are worth listening to.

One more thing, it appeared that the European release of this album had a song called “Pass The Shovel.” Why this didn’t appear on the Western release is beyond me. It is off da chain!

5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Diary of a Madman
  2. Detective Trip (Trippin’)
  3. 1-800 Suicide
  4. Blood Brothers
  5. Graveyard Chamber
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Album Reviews

Album Review: Flatlinerz – U.S.A. (Under Satan’s Authority)

Year of Release: 1994

Record Label: Def Jam Recordings

It has been three months since I have done anything for this site. I haven’t been up on my stuff lately. I even had plans not too long ago, and they are still on the table, too, but I have not gotten around to it. Also, I must note that I had planned on writing about this subject around this time last year, in honor of Halloween, even though I am sure that the sub-genre for this album has quite a catalog that it isn’t necessary (More on this later), but I still wanted to do it during this time of year.

Why would I have to do this album around this time, especially with horrorcore being a somewhat common sub-genre in rap? Well, the main reason is that I wanted to, and another is that this album sort of kicked off the genre to some degree. Yes, I know that there were other horrorcore rappers that existed before this album came out, like Brotha Lynch Hung (Sacramento represent!) and Esham, but it could be argued that this album was an attempt at making it mainstream. I will also note that I remember watching some special on MTV in 2001 (Yes, even in that time, there were still programs related to music, even though reality shows were also common on that channel then) about hip-hop and mentioned the genre of horrorcore rap and mention the Flatlinerz. Months later, I read a review of the Bones soundtrack and the writer made a reference to this album, as well as the Gravediggaz.

Years ago, I went and bought this album, and I have to say that it was a definitely worthy of my money. But why is another question. After listening to a lot of the tracks on this album, some of them reminded me of songs from Onyx. Truth be told, a lot of this album may have the feel of your basic hip-hop album, at least when hearing the beats. The lyrics, on the other hand, had more of horror-like feel. For example, when hearing “Good Day To Die,” “718,” and “Flatline,” the beat seemed reminiscent to some songs from Redman or EPMD. Then you had tracks like “Sonic Boom,” which sounded like an Onyx track with some of the background yelling. Funny notes on that song, I kind of liked the minor reference to the Number 12 song from Sesame Street and if you listen closely to the end of the song, you can hear a sample “Sonic Boom” from “Street Fighter II.” The producers did a good job on that bit.

For the most part, the album felt like a street-style rap album with the musical production, but the lyrical content had more of the horror elements to it, at least in some ways. There was some violent content in the lyrics, but it’s really not that much different than hearing some violent lyrics in gangsta rap. If you want to talk which songs had more of a horror-like vibe, look no further than the album’s three singles, “Satanic Verses,” “Live Evil,” and “Rivaz of Red.” Actually, it was more in the second half of the album when the horror-like elements as a whole started to really kick off. “Takin’ ‘Em Underground” is a good example of a horrorcore song. The rappers’ verses combined both lyrics related to the subject matter, along with the delivery to make it sound a little scary. The beat even sounded like it came from a horror film. The rest of the album had a similar feel, that is also including the interludes along the way.

Now that I think about it, being that this was released during the days when cassettes were still relevant, I wonder if the songs were split into halves to depict what to expect on one side and what to expect on the other side. Then again, I wonder about “Scary Us,” which was one of the first songs on this album. That one had a horror vibe, but it was also mixed with street-like hip-hop beats used for it.

I read in the liner notes for “Rivaz of Red” that the song had a sample of “Tonight’s Da Night” from Redman, as well as “Thriller” from Michael Jackson, but I swear that I hear the intro bit to “Don’t Be Cruel” from Bobby Brown in the sample. It sounds just like it that it has to be the bit in the intro to that album.

I read how that was some controversy about this album. Apparently, there was some speculation how these guys were Satan worshippers and it really put a damper in the sales for this album. It’s a shame, really, because this album kind of mixed styles of East Coast NY hip-hop with the horrorcore genre, when talking about some graphic violent depictions of murder, as well as some references to the occult. It really isn’t that much different from anything from the east coast at that time, and it was nice touch in adding horrorcore elements to it.

If you want to read the article on how this group and album was “misunderstood,” click here.

Before I close out this review, check out the music videos for the three singles. I also must note that the intro of the “Satanic Verses” video was the intro to “Live Evil.”

I highly recommend this album.

4/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Satanic Verses
  2. Live Evil
  3. Rivaz of Red
  4. Takin’ ‘Em Underground
  5. Good Day To Die

Honorable Mentions: “Scary-Us” and “Flatline.”

 

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Rap Movie Reviews

Movie Review – All Eyez on Me

Year of Release: 2017

Production Company: Summit Entertainment/Morgan Creek Productions/Program Pictures/Codeblack Films

It must be said: there is no denying that Tupac Shakur has maintained his popularity throughout the years, even more than two decades after his untimely demise. His deep-in-though lyrics really touched the minds and hearts of not just hip-hop fans, but also other people who have struggled in the things that were related to his music. It was apparent that a biopic would be made about the fallen rap star.

“All Eyez on Me” is the third rap biopic to be released theatrically, following 2009’s “Notorious” and 2015’s “Straight Outta Compton.” With the cultural impact that Pac had on the masses, there was no doubt that a biopic should be released in theaters.

However, unlike SOC, it’s sad to say that AEOM doesn’t have the best production value or even storytelling that SOC had.

The first thing that must be noted is that Demetrius Shipp Jr not only has a strong resemblance to Pac, but I have to give him credit for trying in his debut role. But I still had some issues with the film.

WARNING: There may be spoilers ahead.

The thing that was distracting about the film is that there was no real flow to the storytelling. The movie in a nutshell was mainly that Pac was interviewed by a journalist who was covering his life story. It talked about how Pac was brought up by his mother, who was a black panther and how he ended up starting off as an actor before becoming a rapper. Also, it showed a bit of his friendship with Jada Pinkett. So it talked about how he was first discovered by Digital Underground. I have to hand it to the casting director for casting the guy who played Shock G, as he looked so much like him and even had some of his mannerisms. Anyway, then it showed sequences filming certain scenes from movies like “Juice” and “Above The Rim.” I really wonder what the point of those scenes were. Yes, everyone knows that Pac was an actor as well, but I didn’t find any of that to be crucial to the story. I will say that I didn’t mind that those bits were recreated with some people playing the actors whom he shared those scenes with. I wonder if some scenes in that when he filmed “Poetic Justice,” “Gridlock’d,” and “Gang Related” were done but just left on the cutting room floor. I wonder about the actors who played Janet Jackson, Tim Roth, and Jim Belushi respectively, because the guy who was supposed to be Omar Epps looked nothing like him. The same could be said about Leon, the guy who played Pac’s character’s brother in ATR.

Another thing that I noticed was that clips of some music videos were recreated in some sequences like the video to Digital Underground’s “Same Song,” as well as “I Get Around.” Not to mention certain interviews in which every single word and mannerism were done to recreate them. As well as certain pictures that were shot, like the one with him and Faith Evans, and the infamous snapshot of him with Suge Knight right before the shooting in Vegas.

Of course, the film touched on the sexual assault charge that Pac was jailed for, as well as what led to his beef with Biggie. Speaking of whom, I noticed that the guy who played Biggie in “Notorious” was the same actor who played him in this film. I didn’t mind it, as Jamal Woolard is a rapper himself and had to use his prowess for rapping in a scene.

Then came when Pac joined Death Row Records. I am well aware of a lot of terrible and shady stuff that happened within that label, but certain sequences really made the film take it to a different level. It almost felt like I was watching a different movie. For example, during a scene at a dinner, when Suge Knight was about to confront someone, all of a sudden some ominous music started playing and then showed that he, along with other guys, started to torture this guy. In a way, I get that it was to show that Suge was a scumbag and a dangerous man, but that part made me think that I was watching a gangster movie at that moment. Same with when Suge and some other guys took some guy into a room and jumped him.

Another thing that was distracting was the guy who played Snoop Dogg. I actually wondered if Snoop lent his voice to dub the actor who played him. It sounded just like him that it could have been a dub.

Anyway, also, at that point, it talked about his romance with Kidada Jones, whom Pac was engaged to around the time of his death. That part felt shoehorned in, same with the bit of Jada Pinkett confronting Pac, which led to an alleged falling out between the two (More on this later). Same with how it showed the falling out between Snoop and Pac, and then came Vegas, and you know the rest. Oh, and I noticed that the real security footage from the casino beat-down that took place that very night was used. So it didn’t seem like he had to reenact that bit.

End Spoilers.

As I had stated before, I had no problem with Shipp’s portrayal of Tupac, as I can see that he tried his hardest to play the role. I also have no problem with some inaccuracies as I had noticed some of them in SOC.¬†Around the time of its release, Jada Pinkett had noted on Twitter about how there was inaccuracy in the film, like how Pac read her a poem, or her having attended any of his shows. But the main problem I had is that it just jumped around from one sequence to another. It could be argued that it was because Pac was being interviewed and had stories to show and tell, but it still didn’t feel like what happened after was very consistent.

I really wonder if Lionsgate is going to put out an extended cut later on with a little more footage or at least have it edited better than what was shown in the final product. I can’t say that I liked or loved the film, but I am just curious because of so many things that I would like to see. I really wonder if there was some footage of reenactments of when he shot his other films and music videos.

Overall, I very much preferred “Straight Outta Compton.” It’s been years since I have seen “Notorious,” but I may need to revisit that one. I really can’t give this film a pass.

2/5

Standard