Saturday, 22 November 2014

Get On Up (2014)

Now it is James Brown's turn for the biopic treatment. This one is from the director of 'The Help' and is one of those biopics that chooses to try and cover most of its subject's life rather than a particular period in it. It has around 140 minutes to do that. Within that time, I thought it created enough of a picture of 'The Godfather of Soul'. But, despite attempts to try and make the film appear dynamic, it doesn't cover it in a way to make the over two-hour run-time feel necessary.

For those of you who don't know, James Brown was an influential musician who had a hand in genres like 'Funk'. His music isn't the sort of thing I listen to (my music preferences are probably very dull to everyone else), but I can appreciate the impact it has had. The film shows brief glimpses of the early life of Brown, his rise to the top, and snippets of his general character.

To try and make itself appear more lively ('dynamic'), the film tells its story by continually jumping back and forth between James Brown's past, having James Brown address the camera itself, and have a few performances of James Brown songs. It didn't work for me and I ended up feeling the effects of the films runtime. I could understand why the film keeps jumping back-and-forth between moments, but it does overdo it to the point where it is like talking to someone who has gone off on a lengthy tangent before remembering that there was their original point which they have yet to address. At the same time, though the film's 'flow' may be a little lost, it does end up giving a more balanced look at the character than other biopics. Even if it may be lack a deep analysis of the subject. I was also going to address the issue with the flow of the film, but I have the feeling it may be the way it is in an attempt to reflect Brown's music. Maybe that was just me reading too much into it.

The one area where the film succeeds without question (in my opinion, at least) is with its lead. Chadwick Boseman (soon to be Marvel's 'Black Panther') delivers a memorable, convincing performance. I haven't seen him in anything else at this point (unless you count 'Fringe', in which he apparently has a one episode appearance which I cannot recall), but hopefully this isn't a one-off performance.

Despite its efforts, the film didn't quite achieve what it set out to do. It has a good lead performance and provides plenty of glimpses into its subject's life but cannot provide much in the way of depth or analysis and ultimately could not keep me engaged for the entire running time.

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