The full wrap

Photo: Roadshow Distribution
Photo: Roadshow Distribution

Director: Benny Boom
Cast: Demetrius Shipp jun, Kat Graham, Lauren Cohan, Hill Harper, Danai Gurira
Rating: (R16)  ★★

Musical biopics, if you'll excuse the pun, often get a bad rap by their very nature of having to condense the entire life and career of a musician into a few hours of screen time in a way that's somehow satisfying to both fans and general audiences, while also carrying a narrative arc worthy of any cinematic tale, real or otherwise.

Then there's the small matter of historical accuracy, where dubious techniques such as creating composite characters, fictionalising events for dramatic purposes, and whitewashing the more unsavoury aspects may all cast doubt on the legitimacy of a project.

What's perhaps more important is that the essence of the artist is in some way revealed; that the viewer can experience the life they led and appreciate their work from a fresh perspective.

All Eyez on Me manages to mostly stay a level above Lifetime movie cliches, as it tells of the brief but dazzling rise to fame of the now hugely influential ''gangsta'' rapper 2Pac (real name Tupac Shakur), from his politically-charged beginnings growing up as the son of Black Panthers, to his still unsolved 1996 drive-by murder at the age of 25.

Held together by the framing device of Pac (Demetrius Shipp jun) recounting his story to a reporter while in prison for sexual assault (the depiction of which exemplifies the authorised sanitising taking place), it's by necessity overlong, episodic and bordering on parody, yet is compelling and fascinating all the same. Like its subject, a mass of contradictions.

-By Jeremy Quinn

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