Tupac biopic 'All Eyez On Me' stuns as one of the most important films of the year

All Eyez On Me (Summit Entertainment)


Score: A

Rated R -- 140 minutes

"One of the most important films of the year"

I attended the screening of ALL EYEZ ON ME together with the General Manager of KCEP-FM in Las Vegas, Mr. Craig Knight. I also brought with me Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist B. Taylor. Sitting in-between these two resources, we talked both before and after the screening. I asked a lot of questions. It was important that this review of the overlong film be fair and accurate. The film is directed by music video veteran Benny Boom. That explains the overall atmosphere as the complicated story unfolds.

For more than a decade, the office where I worked at was located on East Flamingo Road, less than a mile from Koval Lane – the intersection where Tupac Shakur was murdered. His achievements are staggering. By 2007, this rapper and actor had sold more than 75 million records. Today, his influence is still felt in the music business. Shakur is considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time. He was only 25 years old.

Six months later, The Notorious B.I.G. was assassinated in Los Angeles at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue. Biggie was only 24 years old. While numerous theories remain of just who ordered the deaths of each young men – and who did the actual killings – to this day, no arrests have ever been made.

Both Mr. Knight and B. stressed the importance of three different generations going to see this film. There are so many young persons who were born after his murder. They may know of Tupac's music, but may not know the story behind the name. Then there are the two Baby Boomer generations – including some who, like myself, can sing every lyric to CALIFORNIA LOVE. Those were the days when Shakur fans danced and partied the nights away.

There are some in the music business who feel that the murder of Biggie enabled Jay Z to fill that void, and the murder of Shakur enabled Ice Cube to fill that void.

ALL EYEZ ON ME, as a biographical drama, has some distinguished performances. Demetrius Shipp Jr. as Tupac Shakur should certainly be considered for an Oscar nomination. He not only looks the part but can successfully provide the wide range of emotions, appearing in almost 100-percent of the film. I also feel that Danai Gurira's performance as Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur should be considered for an Oscar nomination.

Kat Graham plays the role of Jada Pinkett. By the reaction of the audience, those not familiar with the story seemed to be surprised by her close relationship with Shakur. Dominic L. Santana plays Suge Knight, the co-founder and CEO of Death Row Records. Knight played football for two years here at UNLV. He went on to play football for the Los Angeles Rams. Jamal Woolard remains the perfect actor to play Biggie Smalls.

This is by no means a perfect movie. It has its flaws. However, ALL EYEZ ON ME (which was the name of Shakur's fourth studio album and the last to be released in his lifetime) is still an important film to be seen. He was so talented and so gifted. Despite his home environment and the challenges he faced growing up as a black man in America, his profound legacy remains.

CARS 3 (2017)

Score: C

Rated G -- 109 minutes

"Disney/Pixar's franchise has run out of gas"

From the animated studios that brought us TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO, WALL-E, and CARS – I had high expectations for CARS 3. After all, a decade of enhanced animation technology had passed. And indeed, what you see up on the screen is astonishing. Unfortunately, the magic ends there. I do not blame first-time feature filmmaker Brian Fee. And I don't blame the voices of Owen Wilson, Armie Hammer, or Cristela Alonzo. But I do hold Kiel Murray, Bob Peterson, and Mike Rich accountable for a final script that should have been limited to 90 minutes.

CARS 3 is just too long – for children and especially for adults. I can't remember the last time that I was fighting to keep my eyes open when watching an animated feature. But I nearly fell asleep about two-thirds into CARS 3. If only the entire film had the excitement and pacing of the last fifteen minutes or so.

Bottom line: all of us face the reality that we are growing older. Even Lightning McQueen faces a midlife crisis and struggles to decide whether or not he should retire. TOY STORY, FINDING NEMO, and WALL-E all at one time have included grown-up themes.

I suspect that despite this creative hiccup, there will be another film. The CARS franchise has generated billions of dollars in retail sales. Like many of you, my absolute favorite ride at the California Adventure theme park at Disneyland is Radiator Springs Racers. We can only hope that CARS 4 will be better.


Score: B

Rated PG-13 -- 104 minutes

"The wonderful sleeper movie of June"

The critics and audience who are going to hate THE BOOK OF HENRY directed by Colin Trevorrow (and there will be many) are going to be nervous if not fearful of STAR WARS: EPISODE IX (2019). IX is also directed by Trevorrow.

Why would critics and moviegoers possibly hate THE BOOK OF HENRY?

According to John DeFore in his The Hollywood Reporter review, "It is outrageous, dishonest, a near-catastrophe, and preposterous."

This sounds like the one movie to cross off your list. Yes, again quoting Mr. DeFore: "It begins as a kid-genius family picture," and ends with "some child-molestation action pitting a defenseless girl against her stepfather, the commissioner of police."

For those of you who have trusted my reviews over the past few years, you might not cross-off THE BOOK OF HENRY so fast. Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, and Dean Norris each give excellent performances. The technical work is quite solid and the musical score by Academy Award-winning prolific composer Michael Giacchino is outstanding.

While I would only bring children who are in middle school or high school, I would recommend families go together and see this movie, then follow it up by going out for ice cream and having a serious discussion. There are so many possible themes for parents to discuss. The people sitting around me all agreed that it was a very good film.

THE BOOK OF HENRY is an allegory. It is well deserving of a B rating.

Looking ahead to what's coming this summer? Bob Fisher has the blockbuster box office guide to this summer's movie season!