FilmReview

‘Get On Up’ Doesn’t Live Up To The Legendary Status of Its Topic

Griffin Conlogue ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Chadwick Boseman in Get on Up. Photo Credit: D Stevens/Universal Pictures.
Chadwick Boseman in Get on Up. Photo Credit: D Stevens/Universal Pictures.

Get On Up is the story of James Brown, one of the founding fathers of funk and most influential musicians of all times. The film bounces around a lot, beginning in the middle of his career but going all the way back to his early childhood in Augusta, Georgia and spanning all the way to his comeback career after some jail time. Though it is definitely a quality film, and could raise some noise come awards season, the film has a lot of lackluster elements that make it not quite the incredible film it aspires to be.

The biggest fault in the film came in the artistic direction that director Tate Taylor took the film in. Cringe worthy elements such as an abundance of time-lapse shots and James Brown constantly breaking the 4th wall takes the viewer right out of the world. For a film about the real, about real things that actually happened, it is jarring to have star Chadwick Boseman constantly looking out at you and trying to talk directly to the viewer.

Chadwick Boseman in Get on Up. Photo Credit: D Stevens/Universal Pictures.
Chadwick Boseman in Get on Up. Photo Credit: D Stevens/Universal Pictures.

Even with its faults, Boseman continues to shine as the king of the biopic. His role in the film is clearly Oscar bait material, something 42 just didn’t have going for it. He’s a star, and this film cements that. He’s now portrayed Floyd Little, Jackie Robinson, and James Brown on the big screen. His diverse acting talent has shined through once again. What is next for the star? Another biopic? Or could another successful trip to the box office mean bigger and more original things for him?

The real scene stealer of the film was Nelsan Ellis, most famous for his starring role on HBO’s True Blood. He plays Bobby Byrd, longtime best friend and performance partner of James Brown. He gives such a nuanced and natural feeling performance in the role. He has cemented his place as a confident and strong supporting actor whose roles should continue to rise after his time on TV ends this summer.

Should this film earn some awards nominations at the end of the year, it is unlikely to pick up any hardware. It is a strong film, but unlike Taylor’s last film, The Help, it doesn’t seem to have it’s footing firmly in the ground. A decent film nonetheless, if you’re looking for a look at one of the music industries all time greats, Get On Up is a alright time at the movies.

Overall Grade: C+

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