Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Get on Up (Tate Taylor, 2014) Review

I suppose it is that time of the year, isn't it. With Oscars a couple of months away, everyone is no getting their biopics and deep, meaningful films out now that blockbuster season is over. We've seen a good variety of epic action films and great animated films but it's time to slow things down and get into stories about people. The first one I got to see of this season was the biopic about legendary singer James Brown in the form on Get on Up.

James Brown (Chadwick Boseman) needs no introduction since he was one of the biggest names in the music industry. Get on Up chronicles his rise to making history starting from his childhood in poverty living with his father (Lennie James) after his mother (Viola Davis) left. He was forced to work from a young age and, while in prison, befriended singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis). The two partnered up to produce music together and slowly but surely began to next noticed, paving the way for their futures.

I will admit that, while I'm intrigued with James Brown and everything, one of the reasons I saw this was because of Chadwick Boseman. He was just cast as Black Panther for the upcoming Marvel films and I wanted to see how good of an actor we are getting. I can tell you we are getting a damn good one. Watching Boseman play James Brown feels like watching the real James Brown. While biopics tend to have fantastic leads, I do acknowledge that I'm watching actors portray people but here, I felt like I was peering into the life of a musical master. A strong supporting cast also helps with Nelsan Ellis giving a wonderfully supportive and warm performance. It's also great to see Dan Aykroyd on the big screen again and deliver a good performance. Films such as Yogi Bear were not kind to his career. Overall, Get on Up has a wonderfully diverse cast and each actor delivers a great performance with Boseman leading the way.

What's interesting about Get on Up is the way that it is put together. Naturally, it has to dictate the life of James Brown but it decided to do this out of order. This could be a risky decision as it could be confusing to some. Luckily the film pulls through and the constant jumping in time helps keep things fresh and matches the erratic behaviour that James Brown displays. In a weird way the film also uses Brown's hair as a way of telling what year it is. It establishes how his hair is initially and then uses it to remind the audience just when they are. It's bizarre but it truly works. That was the main method I was using to keep up with the time jumps.

Get on Up is a well written and performed adaptation about the godfather of soul. James Brown led a very intersting life and the film captures this well by keeping the audience invested with memorable people (thanks to great performances) and a good use of time jumping. While some may be thrown off at the idea of time jumping and keeping up since characters come and go quite quickly, this is a good film through and through.

Written and performed wonderfully with great music (naturally) and unique use of time jumping.

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