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WAMO ADVANCE SCREENING—The Courier’s Merecedes Howze with rapper Kid Ink, who was in Pittsburgh to watch the advance screening of ‘All Eyez on Me’ with hundreds of WAMO 100 listeners at Southside Works, June 15. (Photo by Gail Manker)

Demetrius Shipp Jr. kicks off “Summer17” with an amazing portrayal of the late, great Tupac Shakur in “All Eyez On Me.” Yup, you read that right, “Amazing!”

While some took this film as an opportunity to nitpick, I watched “All Eyez On Me” as a film critic and beloved fan. Released on Tupac’s birthday, June 16, the picture was well-written and did a really great job of cramming 25 years of life into two hours.

Shipp, the man who played Tupac, was very authentic in capturing the thuggish, conscious ways of the Death Row Records rapper. Shipp not only resembles Tupac tremendously, he also perfected his mannerisms, from how he held his cigarette to his fast speech. We’ve seen the sad attempts of actors trying to play Tupac before and Shipp has risen to the top.

DEMETRIUS SHIPP JR.

Director Benny Boom’s music video production experience really showed in the movie. Tupac’s biggest hits, like “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” “Dear Mama,” and “Keep Ya Head Up” were recreated and thoroughly enjoyable. “All Eyez On Me” is a theatrical concert, and beautifully-paid respect to the iconic music of Tupac Amaru Shakur.

Despite my deep appreciation for the movie, it was missing something. For starters, the film frequently mentioned Pac’s acting career but never once mentioned his biggest box office hit, “Poetic Justice” (1993).

Even stranger than that, “All Eyez On Me” failed to include his first and only wife, Keisha Morris. But, the movie clearly over-exaggerated the relationship he had with Jada Pinkett-Smith.

In a Tupac birthday post on Facebook, Will Smith’s wife set the record straight with, “My relationship to Pac is too precious to me for the scenes in ‘All Eyez On Me’ to stand as truth.”

Pinkett-Smith continues to name specific fabricated scenes to support her claims and commends the actors who played her and Tupac on their “beautiful” performances.

I imagine Benny Boom and filmmakers overstated the story to make it entertaining and conducive to the actual plot. Let’s not forget that this is a movie and colorful content can be embellished or added for attraction.

Tupac’s death scene was missing the intensity. Such a powerful moment in the movie was made weird with a blaring, unfitting gospel song. The part of the film just did not translate the way I would have wanted it to.

If we are comparing Hip-Hop biopics, “All Eyez On Me” was better than “Notorious” (2009), but was not as triumph as “Straight Outta Compton” (2015).

Overall, “All Eyez On Me” is great depiction of the life of Tupac Shakur. Whether completely accurate or not, it was clear that Demetrius Shipp Jr. did his homework and played Tupac handsomely.

 

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