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Notorious

2009-02-19 09:44
 
Notorious

What it's about:

The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.


What we thought of it:

It's hard to translate into film what is such a well-known, conspiracy-ridden story. You are inevitably going to hit some snags.

Notorious B.I.G has a legacy that probably outweighs his short professional life and Notorious: The Movie is more of a gangster fairytale for a generation who still look up to an icon they are too young to even remember.

Wallace is portrayed as a kind-natured, overweight boy from Brooklyn, New York. A good student from a good home, his mom was a teacher studying towards a Master's degree, and his dad walked out on him when he was two. 50 Cent definitely trumps B.I.G on the sympathy front; at least his mom was on crack. B.I.G seemingly had no excuse for dealing drugs except for wanting to own Nikes and be in with the cool kids.

Jamal Woolard is the newcomer who plays Biggie. A rapper in his own right, Woolard took voice lessons for six months to master Biggie's sound. He also put on weight to play the part. His preparation shows in the execution of the role. The complexity of the character is however smoothed over, making Wallace appear more like a modern day superhero than a hardened rapper from the East Coast.

Voletta Wallace, Biggie's mom, flatters herself by enlisting Angela Bassett to portray her on screen. Bassett proves that raw affliction is her forté as she deals with being a single parent to a drug dealer son. Again, the relationship between B.I.G and Voletta is under-delivered and plays out like an episode of 7th Heaven.

With best bud Sean "Puffy" Combs and your mom in the executive producer seat, you can bet your platinum grille that you will look good on screen. All of the "bad" parts were omitted. The movie accentuates Wallace's good-natured ways and skims over the crime, the violence and the pain this caused. Wallace was arrested numerous times and charged with harassment and later with weapons possession and had threatened to kill autograph seekers in his four-year career. So besides being "nice", he was also a badass. But apart from the womanising and crack-dealing in his youth, the movie fails to explore his darker side, which is the source of much of his material.

Not one to shy away from self-promotion, Sean "Puffy" Combs is seen as a good influence and supporting factor in Biggie's life. On the other hand, Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie) is characterised as somewhat unstable and almost cartoon-like.  Mackie also looks and sounds nothing like Shakur – so much so that his character was not immediately recognisable in his entrance scene.

The movie also touches on Biggie's stormy relationship with Lil' Kim (Naturi Naughton) and Faith Evans (Antonique Smith), who he married nine days after meeting at a photo shoot. Lil' Kim has denounced her portrayal in the movie, stating that it "sensationalises her relationship with Biggie instead of telling the truth".

Lil' Kim has a point, except that it doesn't only translate to her character, but to the entire film.

Notorious could have been a raw and intricate look at the life of a young hip hop artist who rose to fame at a time when many young talents were making it big, but few were mentally ready for the pressures of fame. What Notorious is, however, is a watered-down re-telling with a very slanted view that needed some adult supervision. Instead of exposing the ludicrous nature of East Coast/West Coast violence, Notorious will very likely reignite it.  



While Notorious B.I.G may have been a gifted story-teller, his own, larger-than-life saga doesn't hit the mark on film.
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Free State of Jones

2016-07-15 12:04

Ayobaness 2009-02-19 10:55 AM
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i think the movie was good en if they had to show all the things that Biggy got uo 2 it wud be an un-ending movie...Big-ups Biggy Smallz
Natassia 2009-02-25 09:06 AM
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i'm not a fan .............but damn .....this movie is off the hook...
preshen govender 2009-04-06 09:06 AM
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If you can make more money dead then alive then you definitely a legend ?
 

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