“Say it Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud!” – James Brown Biopic.
When my mother asked me if I wanted to go with her to preview screening of Get On Up on Thursday, of course I said yes. I practically ran to the cinema…a biopic about the great James Brown, now this had the potential to be a great film!
Before the film had even started my excitement levels were high! In my head I was reliving my favourite moments from previous great black biopics, such as Ray, What’s Love Got To Do With It, The Five Heartbeats…listen my list could go on. I imagined that this would definitely be the one to top them all, we are talking about Godfather of Soul! However after much of an anti-climax, towards the end of the film I was feeling like I might need to “get on up” outa there…
The film directed by Tate Taylor had so much working in its favour to be great. The acting was spot on and boasted a talented cast which included, the lady on everyone’s lips, Viola Davis, Dan Aykroyd, and Octavia Spencer. The music was lively and had you feeling like you were actually in attendance of one of Brown’s shows, even if you didn’t know the songs. The actual story was at times heartfelt and moving. I won’t spoil it for those of you that haven’t seen it, but the scene where a young James is disowned by his mother, even makes me shed a little tear. I wanted badly for this film to be great, powerful even, a reflection of the man himself but overall the film was just lacking direction and most importantly depth!
Many fans of Brown’s will know the general details of his life; his hard childhood where most of his years were spent in a brothel, his impacting visit to Vietnam, his riot stopping performance at Boston Gardens, following the assignation of Martin Luther King Jr. Those of us coming from a younger generation will probably just know James Brown for some of his most popular hits such as, It’s a Man’s Mans Man’s World, Sex Machine, and Get Up Offa That Thing. So I guess for those who don’t know much about him, you will learn quite a few things.
However the film failed to shed light on how big of an inspiration he has been to music. Failed to show how much of an influence he still is, to many popular acts and songs we know today. In particular Michael Jackson, you only have to look back on his performance at the B.E.T awards in 2003 and see the huge impact his presence had, on not just MJ but the whole show. Frontman of the Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger has never hidden his admiration for Brown and still till this day tries to mimic his moves.
Just when a scene gets intense and you’re clinging on for more, the scene is cut to a different flashback with no explanation of how the previous ends. It is Chadwick Boseman, who plays Brown and James Brown singing the ‘funk’ out of the songs that saves the film. Boseman doesn’t just imitate, he becomes Brown he has the voice, gestures, attitude and movements down to the T, he gives a commendable performance.
What I did love about this film is the media coverage behind, it is literally being advertised everywhere. Normally films such as these, that do not have a historical or political standpoint, go straight to DVD. Going to watch this film is like going to attend your younger sister’s year 10 school play, regardless of how bad it is you know you have to go and support and as a result you still leave feeling proud. So “Get on up” and celebrate the memory of Soul Brother No1!
Showing In all main London Cinema’s from the 21st November! Click here for trailer.
– Rhea Agard