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First off, I went to see this movie, just left as a matter of fact and I think the movie was very well done. For the people saying that the movie was anti-climatic, what was the climax supposed to be ? We all know how it ends, or should they have added more to the story for dramatic effect so we could then talk about how fake it was, and how it didn't really happen that way ? They told it the way it happened It seems that many people are forgetting that this was a movie about someone's life, not somethingfabricated or concocted simply for the purpose of entertainment. It is supposed to tell a story,his story and if you are a true fan of B.I.G. then that should be the reason you went to see it. What good would that have done to his legacy to fill the movie up with speculation about who did what, if anything it just would have reignited the war between east and west for trying to implicate people in the shooting. The purpose was to show that behind the persona of Big Poppa was a real person, a person that loved and was loved by many people. Honestly its silly to be upset about the fact that it doesn't tell you who shot Pac, or B.I.G.,why diminish from the memory of either by using Biggie's life story to speculate on something that no one but those responsible, knows the answer to ? Also Pac, though I am a huge fan of his music as well, is just a supporting character, this movie wasn't about him, it was about Christopher Wallace, the man, the son, the father and the husband. I get sick of people making comments with no basis or foundation. Of cours things are going to be left out, it's inevitable,seeing as how you can't fit 24 years of someone's life into 2 hours of film, they put in the parts that were relevant to the story of how he came up, his brief career which introduced him to us all, and his tragic ending. I for one was touched, I bobbed my head, I laughed, I reminisced and I cried, and for 1 movie to evoke that many emotions, I say it's a job well done. I for one think B.I.G would be proud, so if you are one of those people that don't even like rap music, then here's some advice:don't even post a comment, better yet don't go see the movie, keep your negative comments to yourself. For those that loved B.I.G he was special to us, and deserving of his story being told just like anybody else who has left us and had their story touch our lives. He left a void, and hip-hop hasn't been the same since he left us. I loved the movie, and would gladly pay my $6.50 to see it again.
Back in the 90's as a teen, I never really got in to Biggie's music or
lyrics. I never knew the correlation between he and all these artists
like "Puff Daddy" Faith Evans, Lil Kim all came up together. I never
understood how the East Coast West Coast feud got started.
This film gave me a new respect for Christopher Wallace. His intelligence and how he tied that in to his passion for music and lyrics. He had a dream as a child and in the end he achieved that dream of not just becoming a success as a performer, but a success as a father to his children, a good son to his mom, and a good man to himself.
I love that line in the move "If you wanna change the world, First you've got to change yourself"
Inspirational film, even if you're not a fan of his music or hip hop, you can still appreciate the story behind this man.
That should have been the title of the movie. Everything about this
movie glorified Big..... if he was a nerdy student - he's gonna the
nerdiest student.... if he was a drug dealer - he was gonna be the
biggest drug dealer - complete with him sitting in a dark room with
that one light that shines down on the table (classic).... if he didn't
know anything about Tupac's murder - then he's gonna appear as if he
was absolutely oblivious to that entire situation.... not to mention
one of the supporting characters in this movie, Kim.... if Kim was
gonna be a ho - she's gonna be the dirtiest ho ever.... If I didn't
know any better, I would assume the only way she came up was by f'king
Biggie.... This is a one-sided, shallow view of a person's life. Biggie
fans want to remember his legacy flawless and that can be understood.
Sure why not? This movie was made for you..... It's a story told as
though a mother is speaking of her lost son who could do no wrong.....
Recommendation: Why not learn who Biggie was by beefing up the content of the supporting cast.... his first baby's momma for starters, and what about other artists that he interacted with? We could have seen a more developed, well-rounded and truthful character. Possibly even learn something about him that hasn't already been discussed in magazines or on TV....
The opinion on IMDb on this film seems to be pretty split and the
reason appears to be because many are not writing their opinions of the
film so much as they are reviewing Biggie and/or hip-hop itself. So the
unquestioning 10* reviews rave about the man and his music, while the
1* reviews talk more about the aspects of the music and culture he
represents than they do about the film. I was curious to see what the
film was like on its own merits so I made an effort to see it recently.
The truth of the matter that the film is "ok" but not anything more
than that and I say that as a hip-hop listener who likes more east
coast than west coast.
The problem with the film is that it is far to driven by ticking boxes of people and events. As a result it doesn't flow so much as it does introduce people and things in a way that the audience will recognise. This is all well and good but it breaks up the film as a dramatic piece for example with Lil' Kim, she is not allowed to just be part of the story, no, when she is introduced we even get a shot of her name badge so we can all be sure from the start as to who she is. It is like this with events as well, and the dialogue is surprisingly expositional in its nature with far too many characters seemed to be talking just for the sake of filling in blanks or moving to the next scene. As a sort of summary of Biggie's career this is fine I suppose but when it comes to caring about the characters then it does hurt it quite bad.
Not that the film is overly concerned with the characters because the events-driven script doesn't really have any. Before anyone messages me with insults, I can see that there are physically people on the screen there, doing and saying things as these people, but in terms of character development and depth there is none. Nobody ever feels real partly because of the dialogue but also because the material doesn't give anybody room to develop. This is best seen in the "second-tier" characters such as Puffy and the many women in Biggie's life but it comes over differently with Biggie himself. Contrary to his musical personae, the film does not play up the negative side of Biggie's life too much. It cannot completely hide it though and we do get lots of infidelity and things like him happily selling crack to a pregnant woman. However all of these things tend to be deliberately cancelled out later on in some daft and unnecessary scenes. For example we get to see the crack user years later, fine and playing with her child (also fine) and of course much is put right by conversations, commitments and phone calls on the night that he gets killed. Such things damage the film further as both a record and as a dramatic film I didn't want "warts & all" but an edge of realism and criticism (where warranted) would have been good.
It might be them or it might be the material but either way, the cast are not that great. Woolard does a solid impersonation of Biggie and deal well with the material but he has nowhere to go with his character other than the specifics of the scene there is not a man inside his performance so much as an image of a man. Luke and Bassett are both very talented actors but neither gets to showcase that here indeed Luke is only memorable for how well he nails Puffy's dancing style. Naughton's Lil Kim sticks in the mind for reasons other than her performance (although again as an impression it is good enough for here). Smith, Ringgold, Mackie and others just do the basics as the film gives them no other options.
The end result is a film that looks good and covers a lot of ground but doesn't work as a dramatic film. The people and events are there but they are only ever names and things that happen never real people or events that come from the story. The cast turn in solid but not that good performances accordingly but nobody can raise it beyond what it is. Not "bad" generally but just really lacking over what I would have expected from a biopic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Notorious' is the story of Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls who
became one of the most popular rap artists in the 1990s until he was
gun downed at the very young age of 24. Biggie is played by newcomer
Jamal Woolard who does a decent job playing Wallace, considering he
never acted before.
The first 45 minutes of the film are the most interesting as it focuses on Biggie's early career as a drug dealer. He's constantly arguing with his mother (played by the always solid Angela Bassett) who finally throws him out of the house after he won't give up his drug-dealing ways. Eventually he lands in jail where he starts writing rap lyrics which he eventually fashions into full-fledged songs in the recording studio. The era is ably recreated as we're given a sense of how rap music developed during the 1980s and early 90s.
After his release from jail, Biggie starts building a reputation as a talented rapper in his Brooklyn neighborhood. He becomes a protégé of up and coming producer Sean "Puffy" Combs (one of the producers of the movie) who takes him under his wing. When Puffy is fired, Biggie goes back to drug-dealing only to find himself arrested again. This time however, a friend offers to take the rap on a gun charge and Biggie has a second chance to resume his career.
The rest of the movie chronicles Biggie's eventual rise to the top. I was a little uncertain as to how Biggie actually got there. At one point he's 'paying his dues' playing college gigs at places like Howard University. The next thing you know he's got a number one hit record.
If one is to believe the screenwriters, despite Biggie's involvement in the violent world of rap music, he was really a big Teddy Bear at heart. He's a character who can basically do no wrong. Even though he cheats on the three women he's closest to (the mother of his child, his wife and Lil Kim, fellow rap artist and lover), they all forgive this Teddy Bear despite his boorish behavior.
Notorious lacks a central external antagonist who Biggie is pitted against throughout the movie. If there is an antagonist, it's got to be Tupac Shakur, the West Coast rapper who had a falling out with Biggie after he was shot outside a NYC recording studio. There are few dramatic scenes between Biggie and Tupac in Notorious and the relationship is mainly fleshed out through the use of an off-screen narrator. While Biggie admires Tupac as a philosopher and activist, he also perceives him as a loose cannon. According to Biggie's version, after Tupac was shot for the first time, he became completely paranoid and believed everyone was after him (including Biggie).
As Biggie tells it, he made attempts to reconcile with Tupac but it never really worked out. Meanwhile the media played up the "East Coast-West Coast rivalry" which may have eventually led to the assassination of both Tupac and Biggie. The 'rivalry' is explained through a montage sequence which made me feel I was watching a documentary and not a feature film.
The second half of Notorious mainly involves Biggie's internal struggles, particularly in the area of becoming a more responsible adult. Again, if you believe the screenwriters, despite acting irresponsibly with women and immersing himself in the thuggish, materialistic world of rap music (an involvement in a world which eventually led to his death), Biggie managed to stay 'above the fray'. The point is made that his second (and last) album revealed a more 'sensitive' side and that he was turning away from violence right before he died.
One gets a feeling that the writers of Notorious have little information as to Biggie's dealings in his behind the scenes business world. Certainly they offer no theories as to who did him in. Instead, we're treated to all the histrionics of his volatile relationships with women (which basically proves that he was a 'ladies man' and nothing much else). By focusing mainly on his relations with women, we only get to see one side of Biggie and I didn't feel this was a complete, rounded picture.
Probably the weakest character in the film is Puffy Combs. Since he's one of the film's producers, it's not in his interest to suggest anything controversial about his own character. Thus, Derek Luke has little to do in this film except act the part of a glorified cheerleader.
Notorious touches on all the bases of Christopher Wallace's life. For those unfamiliar with all the details, it's a modestly interesting and somewhat entertaining story. Nonetheless, the filmmakers chose to place their protagonist on a pedestal. By doing so, they imply that Biggie was detached from the violent world which he was a part of. That somehow he was an unsuspecting victim who had nothing to do with his own demise. The truth was probably somewhere in the middlethat at times he could be Biggie the Teddy Bear and at other times, Biggie the Thug. Instead of a hagiography, Notorious needed to present more of a balanced portrait but it settled for an excessively sentimental and by the numbers treatment which earns it an average "5" in my book.
This film reminded me of The Sopranos, and not in a good way.
David Chase's seminal mob opera only ever put its foot wrong twice, the most jarring and inexplicable instance of which took place in its fourth season, when Junior Soprano went on trial for his life. Rather than pursue this riveting (and pivotal) plot line, the writers instead chose to completely ignore it, focusing instead on Bobby Baccalieri's constant whimpering over his recently deceased wife's frozen pasta dish.
When something of genuine interest happens in Notorious - for example that first, mysterious assassination attempt on Tupac Shakur that ignited the whole East Coast/West Coast feud in the first place, and ended up leading to the deaths of both Tupac and Christopher Wallace - the film treats it as just another bit of plot to plod through. Why exactly was Tupac so convinced that he was sold out by his own people? Did he alone nurture his subsequent affiliation with Suge Knight? And was Lil' Kim's transformation from prim office drone into sex-obsessed, vampish diva really as banal as it appears here?
None of these questions are even fleetingly addressed by the film's screenwriters, who are far more interested in depicting Wallace's turbulent love life to zero compelling dramatic avail. These sequences (including a brain-frazzlingly clichéd groupie indescretion in a hotel room) are so toothless and bruisingly manipulative that the only real comparison to be made is with a network TV movie.
The storytelling, in both structure and content, is simplistic and trite. But more fundamentally, as a biopic; as something designed to celebrate its subject and educate the uninitiated on the intricacies of their life and work; the film is almost entirely worthless. The reliance on meat-and-potatoes genre plotting, coupled with the lifeless musical performances (an area in which a film like this should soar, surely) result in a film that appears to have been designed only to satisfy the whims and demands of those involved, leaving Wallace's questionable status as a giant in his field as the preserve of the easily persuaded and previously converted only.
And the final twenty minutes, in which Wallace's posthumous cultural identity is broadly painted as being akin to that of a latter day saint, quite frankly made me feel like throwing up.
On that score, much as with any other, Notorious is crass, calculating and compromised.
I watched this movie with great expectation. Besides the hype
surrounding it, for someone who embraced hip hop for many years being
influenced by the like of Biggie Smalls, Nas & Tupac to mention a few,
it only made sense for me to want to watch this movie.
From the beginning i could not seem to get over the way in which B.I.G was portrayed as this smart, lovable young boy because it made me look at him in a whole different light that i initially thought. I feel his son played the part well (though he did not have much to do). The story line is pretty straight forward and there are a few surprises concerning the emotions the characters invoke in you and make you understand them more deeply. The acting was not bad, i actually like the guy who acted as Biggie, he made the character quite interesting and lovable. The rest of the cast were not too bad either: Puffy, Faith Evans and the guy who played Biggie's manager were good too (don't expect any Oscar winners though!)
From a neutral point of view (without being a Notorious B.I.G or Tupac fan) i really felt that they tried to explain the beef between the artists with a more lenient view of Biggie. When watching the movie i couldn't help but think how much Biggie was the 'bigger man' in the beef and that Tupac simply caught a fit at the wrong people. Then i had to ask myself a few questions about that. The movie makes you want to take Biggie's side on the whole issue. I don't know if this is true but i felt that it was rather unfair no matter how much of a nice guy Biggie was. In watching this movie its hard to see it any other way than that the beef was Tupac's fault. It's up to you to believe it or not.
All in all it was a good effort, nothing too memorable but a story worth knowing especially if you want to know more about some of the most critical times in Hip Hop. Biggie fans will undoubtedly love this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While "Notorious" is a solid biopic of the life of East Coast rapper
Christopher Wallace (better known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious B.I.G.
because of his girth), the movie suffers ultimately by its one-sided,
fawning portrait of the talented rapper, who was shot and killed at the
age of 24 in 1997. Ironically saying, all the highly anticipated hype
(and also luring the naive crowds, intriguing them naively of course)
brought him back from the grave although, it also send the heavyweight
back to the crypt in a Hollywood second. I say that with all do
The movie unravels near the end of its two-hour running time, as it seems as Wallace is trying to complete all of the items on a bucket list before his death: reconcile with his mother, take responsibility for his children, whisper sweet nothings to all of the women he has ever wronged (and there are plenty of them). Revealing his death isn't giving away the ending, because the first moments of the film reveal that he has been shot and killed.
It's not all bad..
What the extremely R-rated (which doesn't hurt) film does well is trace Wallace's life as a child abandoned by his father through his ascent to the top of the music world. Jamal Woolard portrays Wallace from the age of 17 to his death. He does a serviceable job of expressing the flaws in Wallace's character and his early attraction to the mean streets during his days as a drug dealer, but Derek Luke as the charismatic (and, obviously, angelic, considering who produced the movie) Combs and Anthony Mackie as rapper Tupac Shakur steal every scene they are in with their over-sized personalities. Let me get this right, Notorious is the title no? This overtaking of a supporting role reminds me of the Dark Knight, scheming the joker into the finish line of attention.
Back to the bad..
This movie had nothing special to offer, at least nothing more than the Wikipedia entry. Another thing this film provides is the proof of the director's cliché. No experience, or at least nothing more than a his ridiculous Soul Food and Barbar Shop franchises that were compost-filled films. The script lets too much slide, and Anthony Mackie was a horrid choice, he couldn't provide the sense of Pac at all.
There's no sense of reality, no feel of the streets, none of the raw zest and spark that spilled out of Biggie's music. This is the type of biopic Hollywood made in the '40s about people like Johann Strauss or Cole Porter: phony to its bones.
George Tillman Jr.'s "Notorious," a by-the-numbers biopic about the
life of Brooklyn rapper Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace
(1972-1997), is sure to only please the members of his core fan-base,
myself amongst one of them. I was 11 in March 1997 when Biggie Smalls
was shot and killed in Los Angeles, California, just seven months after
his friend and fellow rap artist Tupac Shakur (1971-1996) was shot and
killed in Las Vegas; Tupac died the day after my 11th birthday in 1996.
Many thought that their murders were part of the whole East Coast/West Coast rivalry between rap artists during the mid '90s. Both Big and Tupac became the unlikely martyrs of gangsta rap and the violence that characterizes it. What's most shameful about that is that over a decade after their deaths, it seems that the hip-hop community has yet to learn a very valuable lesson.
But I'm getting off-track. "Notorious" is a well-made and well-acted movie. Unfortunately, however, it's too by-the-numbers and follows the tried-and-true methods of most biopic storytelling: it glamorizes the life of the character, goes from one success to another, and doesn't really shed anything new on the person the movie is about. Of course it traces the beginnings of Biggie's life, from growing up as a bright Catholic school student in Brooklyn raised by his loving mother Voletta Wallace (a perfectly cast Angela Bassett), to his dropping out of school at age 17 to sell crack on the streets to help feed his baby daughter, and his eventual being signed to the then-newly formed Bad Boy Records by his best friend Sean "Puffy" Combs (Derek Luke). The rest, as they say, is history.
I also forgot to mention that Jamal Woolard, as Biggie, who is also an aspiring rapper himself, is probably the best thing about this movie. He really captures the essence, and character of Big, and not only does he look like him, but he also talks AND sounds like him. And his skills on the microphone are undeniable as well. He lends some authenticity to the film's rhyming sessions, rapping to the songs of the real-life Notorious B.I.G., and he pulls it off magnificently. It's a star-making performance that unfortunately gets overshadowed by too many of the film's flaws.
The script (co-authored by Biggie's biographer Cheo Hodari Coker) skips from one success to another; that's the biggest problem with most biopics. Another problem I had was that the portrait of the main character was pretty one-sided. While I personally consider his debut record "Ready to Die" to be one of the most important and significant rap albums ever recorded - it helped return the East Coast rap scene to prominence - I'm not totally certain that he was truly one of the greatest rap artists who ever lived, especially after only two finished recordings. And I really would have liked to have seen more of Big's friendship with Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie), which I felt was one of the most overlooked and tragic aspects of his life during the East Coast/West Coast rivalries. (People often forget that not only were they friends early on, but they were very close friends.)
And while I'm quite certain that the sex appeal of Lil' Kim (Naturi Naughton) is one of the reasons for her success as a rapper, I also feel that one of the reasons she's here, apparently, is to show A LOT of skin and seem like the biggest, baddest 'ho in hip-hop (that's debatable). Big's relationship with wife Faith Evans (Antonique Smith) was not all that well-developed either, as was Big's friendship with Puffy, or the members of Junior M.A.F.I.A., who he helped to promote along with Lil' Kim, whom he was carrying on an affair with while still married to Faith. I also would have liked to have seen some of the paranoia and fear that gripped Biggie in the final months of his life as well, and a little bit more on the aftermath of his murder.
Like I said earlier, I'm a fan of the Notorious B.I.G. myself, and so I'm sure that I'm one of those people that would have liked "Notorious" a lot more. That's the biggest tragedy about his life and this film. His short life and violent death made him one of the most important, and tragic, figures in hip-hop. I also think it's a disgrace that not much has been done by law enforcement officials to try to solve his murder, or Tupac's for that matter, and the questions revolving around the involvement of corrupt police officers in both killings have yet to be followed up in any significant fashion by anyone.
I'm not going to be a cliché: I don't think he was one of the greatest rappers, personally, but the impact of his music on the industry cannot be denied by anyone: he helped the East Coast's rise back to the top of the rap scene in the mid '90s. As for the movie about his life, on the hand, it could have been better - a lot better.
MY girlfriend and I went to see this opening night and I was a little worried about the director and first time actor Jamal Woolard but it turned out to be a great film. Now i am a Biggie fan so you may think this is biased but it was a well done movie and showed you the life of biggie and how he made it. There is a couple things that i thought were not so good about the movie like go more in depth his younger years so we learn more about him and also go deeper into the feud with him and pac. But other than that Jamal Woolard gave a great performance as well as the rest of the cast. Now my girlfriend doesn't even like rap and she liked this movie so i would suggest it to anyone. I am surprised about the bad rating but i guess people hate on the best rapper of all time too much lol
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