Tupac Shakur was without a doubt, one of the most controversial figures of his time. Tragically killed on September 13th, 1996 in Las Vegas, Tupac still lives on even in death. Many have said that he was a ghetto poet, while others have said that he was just another gangster rapper. The film allows Tupac to tell us who he was. "Tupac Resurrection" isn't the typical documentary, rather it is a film that is narrated entirely by Tupac Shakur himself.
The movie opens with a Tupac song – "Staring at the World Through My Review" and the camera panning the city of Las Vegas. The camera pans the streets and suddenly the song ends and gunshots ring out. "Yes, I got shot", chillingly says the voice of Tupac. From this moment on, Tupac leads us through his life from early childhood to eventual death.
Director Lauren Lazin makes her feature film debut with this MTV produced film. Lazin has made over 40 documentaries for MTV and PBS. Say what you will about Tupac and his controversies, but Lazin's film shows us that he was no "typical" gangster rapper. Tupac was an educated young man the loved the arts. He spent time in Baltimore as a teenager learning how to hone his evident skills and talents. Soon poverty wouldn't escape him, as Tupac dropped out of school and hit the streets determined to make his way in life. One of the obvious influences on Tupac throughout his life was his relationship with his mother Afeni Shakur. His mother's experiences as a former Black Panther fuel his thoughts and eventually shape who he becomes. The film spends quite a bit of time focusing on Tupac's overall talent – both behind the microphone and on the big screen.
The film chronicles Tupac's rapid rise to stardom, from his beginnings a roadie for rap group Digital Underground, to his last days with Deathrow records. Tupac is a times angry, remorseful and enlightening and seems genuinely sincere. Interestingly enough, Tupac was never arrested until after he became a well known rapper and Tupac's brushes with the law are well known and well documented in this movie.
Some of the footage of Tupac's jail interviews from his 1995 time in prison is remarkable. Here is we see him at his rawest, most open moments. The movie is filled with pictures, old video and old interviews – all inner-cut with Tupac's voice. We truly see how this man lived his life.
Perhaps the average fan would best know Tupac through his very public beef with Christopher Wallace a.k.a. "The Notorious B.I.G.". The East Coast vs. West Coast theme does come up during the later parts of the movie and it's interesting to hear Tupac's affection and disdain for Wallace all at the same time. The movie does a service by not focusing on this, rather focusing on the things that made Tupac a larger than life figure. He comes across as a man that you either love or hate, and makes no apologies for living the way he lived.
Tupac's influence on the Hip Hop culture is undeniable. Whether he is a poet, a gangster rapper or a political martyr is debatable. He was probably the most influential rapper ever – this is evident by his 4 highly successful posthumous CD releases. His influence in the rap world is still there – check out Eminem or 50 Cent. The film does a great job of showing us the man, with all of his flaws and allows the viewer to ultimately form their onion on his life and death.
How Does It Look? - The movie is presented in an anamorphic 2:35 format. Because most of the film includes stills and older video footage, the film doesn't have a very crisp look to it. This isn't an issue however, because you expect it based on the source material. The opening Vegas sequence is crystal clear without any visible issues and looks great.
How Does It Sound? - This movie is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. The film is mostly dialogue driven, without much use from the surrounds. There are also times when Tupac's voice becomes hard to hear – again another by product of the source material. The fronts are engaged often as music is played throughout the movie. Once again though, because this is a documentary, it's not a deal breaker.
Final Thoughts: - Going into this review I was already a Tupac fan. This film made his life seem less tragic and you get the feeling that he lived his life with very few regrets. Lauren Lazin does a great job of capturing the important aspects of his life without pushing the viewer into feeling a certain way. We get to see Tupac at his best and at his worse – and he remains consistent throughout. Tupac felt like it was his mission to leave a legacy and he has succeeded with that goal. If you're not a fan of Tupac, I would recommend that you pick this up and learn abut his life and why he was who he was. If you are a fan, this is a no-brainer for your collection. Overall this movie is well-done and though provoking and is highly recommend.