Review by Gordon Justesen
Director: Laura Lazin
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 112 Minutes
Release Date: June 15, 2004
never had a record until I had a RECORD.”-Tupac
When Tupac Shakur
was shot and fatally killed in September of 1996, we had lost a strong voice, a
remarkable artist, and an important individual to many, including myself. He was
controversial, very complex, but always had something to say. The grim
environment he grew up in resulted in a unique perception of everyday life,
which most likely resulted in what, to many, was ultimately controversial
Tupac’s art was felt not just in the realm of music and film, but in that of
social commentary; the kind of which no one can ever deny.
Tupac’s art and
legacy leading up to that fateful night in Las Vegas is reflected in the
stirring documentary, Tupac Resurrection.
It actually goes beyond the basic documentary in that every event covered is
reflected through Tupac’s own voice and words, through recordings and various
interviews, a lot of which has never been shown until now. This is his life
story, as only Tupac can provide from beyond the grave, and it is a most
Like all of the
great artists of our time, no musician, let alone rap artist, was as strikingly
complex as Tupac. One of the pioneers of what many labeled “gangsta rap”,
Tupac was an innovator. He was a remarkable artist of many sorts. His level of
work was displayed in that of music, film, and even that of poetry. His strong
ways of expressing his art form led to being targeted by politicians, the media,
and other groups who, unfortunately, saw him as more of a threat.
accelerated to a pure high level of fame, Tupac’s true drive wasn’t to
actually be a famous entertainer, but to paint a portrait to those who listened
to him about how he saw things, and the depressing elements that came with the
environment where he grew up. In addition to growing up in near poverty in an
atmosphere ridden with drugs and violence, he was raised by a single mother. His
mother, Afeni, was a former Black Panther and remained the one most important
person in his life.
artistically expressing himself, which included songs about such issues as
inner-city violence, abuse, drugs and racial discrimination, Tupac was hoping
that the controversial topics he covered would help to end all of the harshness
that may come to those either growing up in the ghetto, or in extreme poverty.
His love for the
arts was evident right from his younger years. Growing up in Philadelphia, Tupac
attended the Philadelphia School for the Performing Arts. His talent was there,
and he possessed a high level of potential, but it’s clear that coming up in
the world during a pivotal moment for rap music; the birth of gangsta rap. Tupac
was soon embracing the lifestyle he came to dub as “Thug Life”. He said what
was on his mind in both song and interview, which led to over the top
statements, including attacks on fellow black celebrities.
Once fame had
struck him within the music industry, it also struck him within various run-ins
with the law, resulting in excessive media coverage of his raw behavior. He was
arrested countless times on different charges, including accusations of rape,
assault, and even did some time in prison. He was making tons of money in the
process, which is what may have made him an even bigger target by potential
rivals in the industry.
The most heavily
covered area of his life was no doubt when he signed on with the notorious, L.A.
based Death Row label, a point in his life when Shakur openly admits to being at
his most egotistical and unapologetic. His former friend, Biggie Smalls aka The
Notorious B.I.G. was now a supposed bitter rival at the Bad Boy label based in
New York. This led to what the media help to irresponsibly hype as the East
Coast/West Coast rap war. It was an overblown alleged dispute which neither
Tupac nor Biggie was able to squash. Tupac had soon been fatally shot, only to
have Biggie suffer a similar tragedy just six months later.
Resurrection is a
straightforward exploration of a human life; one that just happened to be that
of an intriguingly complex individual. It thoughtfully does not ask you to judge
Tupac, but simply listen to his eccentric view on life as he lived it. In the
end, the point made clear is that he was an amazingly gifted artist and
performer whose image within the brutal hip-hop music industry, along with that
of money, power and ultimate fame played a possible role in sealing his fate.
Since Tupac left
us, we’ve been fortunate to witness an abundance of left over material.
Several posthumous albums were released, as were a number of films such as the
equally gritty Gridlock’d and Gang
Related, which revealed what a strong serious actor he was. Tupac
Resurrection could very much be seen as the perfect final chapter to the
legacy of perhaps one of the most influential figures within the entertainment
industry, as well as the last breath from the man who lived the very life the
film is reflecting.
Resurrection, in closing, is
as strong and absorbing as a documentary can get. Michael Moore, if you’re
reading, you need to watch this film and take some notes.
anamorphic offering actually makes for a superb viewing, given the fact that
documentaries aren’t necessarily high on the list of grand looking
presentations. The piece is actually a mixture of photos, TV news footage, most
of which is an extended interview piece Tupac did for MTV News, clips from both
his music videos and films, as well as a few personal moments. In short, a
monumental image transfer for a film of this sort.
The 5.1 mix shines
in numerous areas. Music is present in almost every minute of the film’s
running time. The hip-hop tracks especially deliver the sound goods, and range
is actually very good and diverse amongst the channels. The mixture of all of
this with the power of the spoken words work amazingly well.
It’s nice to see
that Paramount contributed as much as they can to fuel the extras portion of the
disc with so much personal material, making this a special kind of Special Collector’s Edition.
Included is a
commentary track with director Laura Lazin, as well as Tupac’s mom and
executive producer Afeni Shakur. Also featured are four deleted scenes,
exclusive interview segments, a Malcolm X dinner speech delivered by Tupac, as
well as a taped deposition from one of his court hearings. Rounding out the list
of extras are Interviews on the film’s soundtrack with the likes of
contributors Eminem and 50 Cent, a interview with Mutulu Shakur, a segment on
the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center For the Arts, trailers and a TV spot.