"I knew since the say i was born, everybody gonna know my name."
Biopics are rife this year. We’ve seen the intelligent and thrilling Imitation Game, the artistic and emotional Mr Turner, and now we have Get On Up, the story of James Brown. This biopic seems to cover nearly everything that the other two do not. It’s wild, charismatic and full of pure, unrivalled funk. Seriously, set your funk-o-meter to maximum people.
The film follows the life of musician James Brown, from his upbringing in poverty to being crowned the Godfather of Soul. The film chronicles every move and mood as well as the music career of one of the most influential figures of the 20th century.
The best thing to do with this film is to compare it to Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys, while it talks the talk it certainly fails to walk the walk like get On Up does. It manages to give the life story of Brown as well as the fantastic musical numbers that remain as timeless as ever. It makes you realise just how big an impact this man had. ‘The hardest working man in show business’ lacked very few things, but humility was one of them. But this film helps you to understand how having that feature would be difficult for someone like Brown, a man who stood out in almost every way at the time.
He is given an excellent portrayal by Chadwick Boseman. An Oscar worthy performance by any means comes from this previously unknown actor who is already one of the key players in Marvel’s phase three of their universe, and it’s easy to see why from get On Up. I cannot overstate how amazing he was, you go to this film to see James Brown and Boseman is James Brown. He embodies so much charisma and unparalleled amounts of electrifying formula. But beneath this colourful exterior Boseman is able to show Brown’s darker side, his manipulative, violent, sociopathic, exhibitionist streak.
Although there are a few structural weaknesses such as the issues not being tied up or answered as neatly as the complex chronology would have you believe. But director Tate Taylor manages to engross the audience for the whole 139 minutes with a unique creative approach to tackling the story of a man who never stopped performing for his entire life. It’s quite a stylised and non-linear view of his life and in terms of becoming a personal as well as a professional film of Brown, Get On Up presents both of these issues in a brilliantly familiar yet modern light simultaneously.
It never fails to highlight the importance of Brown in popular culture either. There are traces of nearly every style of music following his reign in this film. One of my favourite scenes has to be Boseman talking down to those legends of rock the Rolling Stones. Despite the impact they have has its obvious the Brown exudes so much influence and power over them. It really is breathtaking to watch.
The detail of the time shines through in a very stylish manner and the sheer tantalizing amounts of energy that are laced throughout this biopic make it nostalgic and modern. Even if you have problems with the structure and take on the story Boseman’s performance is more than worth the price of admission, he’s one fellow who never gets down.