Sandy Kenyon review Tupac Shakur bio-pic 'All Eyez on Me'

NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new film being released this weekend tells the story of Tupac Shakur, from a boy in Harlem to a hip-hop icon.

His murder remains unsolved, but had he lived, the rapper would have turned 46 Friday. "All Eyez on Me" serves as a testament to his legacy, which remains prolific more than two decades after his death.

The rise and fall of Tupac have special relevance for New Yorkers, because, of course, he is a son of our city.

Demetrius Shipp, Jr., has the daunting task of playing one of the most talented and charismatic performers in history, and adding to the newcomer's challenge is that Tupac was a movie star himself. In addition to his four albums, he starred in a half-dozen films.

He also left behind dozens of tracks before he was gunned down at the young age of 25.

Shipp won't make you forget the real Tupac, but given he is a rookie, his performance is just shy of astonishing.

The film charts Tupac's rise from boyhood in East Harlem and shows how his parents, who were active in the Black Panthers, influenced his life and music.

Interesting as these events are -- including a reminder of his close relationship with Jada Pinkett before she married Will Smith -- Shakur packed enough triumph and tragedy into his short life to fill several movies.

Even at two-plus hours, there's not enough time to learn a lot about any one aspect of his life. And yet it still feels too long.

Coming face to face with Tupac again has real value, for his fans and for anyone else trying to understand why the guy who embraced the "thug life" became so influential. But watching this movie will also make you want to seek out the original album of the same name.

The most successful bio-pics usually focus on a narrow slice of a famous person's life and do not try to cover the entirety of a career, as this film does. But if you enjoyed "Straight Outta Compton," then you are likely to be satisfied with this one.
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