Director: Tate Taylor
Featuring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd, Viola Davis
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Age Rating: 12A
Running Time: 139 Minutes
“Who better to tell the story of James Brown than James Brown himself?” This was a point made recently by Chadwick Boseman who plays the ‘Hardest working man in show business’ in this recent release which ‘breaks the fourth wall’ by having James Brown’s character address the cinema audience. This was a great touch from the director, Tate Taylor, who is most recognised for his directing of THE HELP (2011).
Boseman, who was at first a very controversial choice to play the singer, had the moves, the perm, the suits, the charisma and at times the voice to showcase an impressive performance and representation of ‘Mr. Dynamite’. Personally, after watching him play the great baseball player, Jackie Robinson, in the film 42 (2013), I never doubted that he would deliver this role well.
This film, like RAY (2004) and WALK THE LINE (2005) is yet another biopic which highlights how these legends of music were some of the most troubled characters with very painful back stories. Unlike RAY (2004), which centred on Ray Charles producing ground-breaking, never before made pieces of music, Get on Up focuses on the performing of James Brown’s music, creating “the funk” which audiences can never get tired of.
I was surprised to find out how much of a controversial character he was but I think a lot of this is a result of his neglectful upbringing, which led to him having a lack of dependency on others. In turn, this made James a very independent man, who ran his own life and everyone else’s for that matter.
Taylor highlights many of the great performer’s key performances during his career such as the T.A.M.I show of 1964, where James Brown & the Famous Flames, made sure that they out-shone headliners The Rolling Stones, and his show at the Boston Garden in 1968, where he is accredited for preventing a riot from breaking out following the murder of Martin Luther King. These performances were all great to experience, however at times they did appear to drag, making the film feel like a very long watch in the end.
Apart from the length of the film, and the flow of the story compared to the likes of RAY, there is not much that can be criticised about this film. It’s a great biopic of a legendary artist, hosting an experienced cast, with a brilliant twist in the sense of ‘breaking the fourth wall’ with protagonist narration.
Recommendation: Great watch at cinema, but a good home cinema set up will do the film justice!