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"Tupac: Resurrection"

Directed by Lauren Lazin.
Release Year:  2003 

Review Date:  11/21/03 


I keep thinking that Tupac Shakur is dead, but noooooo...he’s just rolling out his material more slowly now that he is supposedly in the grave.

So, even though he’s been dead for six years, we finally get a biopic worthy of his name, “Tupac: Resurrection”...and, much to my surprise, the documentary of his life is an incredibly effective film even if you were following his career or into his music and know the details of his violent demise.  Told almost entirely in his voice, the MTV-produced film uses snippets from previous interviews he did with a multitude of sources, but mostly two interviews that Tupac did with Tabitha Soren in the mid-90s.  The voice cuts are interspersed with tons and tons of video footage from his movies, his music, his music videos, his interviews, court appearances...the list goes on and on.

Coming into this, I really thought that with MTV’s backing and with the Shakur family backing, this was going to be a puff piece that always went out to show that Tupac was this hero-deity type that never did anything wrong, made the greatest music ever, always treated women the right way.  Man, was I wrong—I enjoyed seeing the imperfections of the man, and hearing the man himself talk about what he has done wrong, choosing to sometimes be around the wrong people, saying the wrong thing, being wrong in assaulting members in his line of work.  Mix that, though, with all of the things he has done for the rap world, and his incredible film presence that paved the way for rappers like Mos Def, Ice Cube and Treach to have a chance at making it in the world of films.  There is a great balance between Tupac’s influence on music and his fans...there is interesting insight on his teen years, especially his time spent at a performing arts high school in Baltimore, where he met John Cole and Jada Pinkett Smith.  Being a big fan of Digital Underground, I loved the footage of Tupac’s big break, when he was still rapping with the group that gave us “The Humpty Dance”...seriously, every time I see Shock-G wearing the Hump nose prosthetic, I can’t help but break out into maniacal laughter.

As with anything that has the Tupac Seal of Approval on it, we get “new tracks previously unreleased” by the dead artist; this is starting to become a comedy to me, because I think he has somehow released like five albums since he died...this guy has a vault of songs that still can’t be touched, and I think he wrote almost all of them himself before being gunned down.  The movie briefly covers how this is even possible; my limited knowledge of music tells me that producing and finalizing 24 songs in just two weeks is damned near impossible, but Tupac and his recording buddies had so much product that it was really quite easy to churn out music at such a fast clip.

Add to all of this revelations like who Tupac’s biggest influence in prison was, and you have a solid documentary that really does show you the good and the bad traits of its subject.  Good times.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09