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Not So G.R.E.A.T
Notorious  (DVD)
Member Name: utero
Notorious  (DVD)
Advantages: Good Soundtrack
Disadvantages: Pretty Bland Biopic Fare
Bio-pics are always a rough territory to tread upon. The majority of them are pretty much standard fare with production values more suited to television than the big screen. Of course there are some exceptions such as Walk The Line and Ray but for everyone of them there's a horror show such as The Michael Jackson Story or that one about Roseanne.
Anyway it's been over ten years since Christopher Wallace was shot dead in a drive-by shooting. More wildly known as The Notorious B.I.G, the big guy rapper was at the height of his game having achieved millions of record sales after previously dealing drugs on the street at a young age and spending a stint in the clink.
All good stuff for a story of his life so why is the end result a standard by the numbers affair with doesn't really go into any depth about anything? Well I guess when one of the producers is his mother and Puff Daddy also exec produces then you're not going to get a story showing the ugly side of someone who was close to them.
The film starts out by showing Biggie as a young boy being brought up by his mother in the right way, but he gets involved in drug dealing as it's the only way the other guys his age are making money in the neighbourhood. Anyway this gets him put inside where he refines his lyrics before committing them to tape. Sean 'Puff Daddy' signs him to his fledgling record label and after some touring and stuff they climb the ladder to multi-platinum status. Along the way Biggie is shown as a bit of a shit, cheating on the mother of his child with another women before also cheating on that one my marrying Faith Evans after about a week. Of course he also cheats on her and goes a bit mental on her when he sees a pic of her and 2pac. That's about the jist of the entire film but you do get some decent musical interludes where Small's and Co play some gigs.
Of course it's often been muted that Biggie and 2pac were casualties of an east coast/west coast feud in the rap game. Well the way it's portrayed in the film just makes me think that a sit down over a drink would have probably resolved things. Instead both of them are shown to be a bit stupid in the adult world.
I liked the lead performance from Jamal Woolard considering it's his first acting role. Angela Bassett play's his mother and it always a solid turn. The rest of the cast I could pretty much forget.
Notorious is a biopic that plays it safe from the get go considering the source material could have served up something far more grittier. I would imagine that even some of his fans would be disappointed with the end result.
- The DVD -
Presented in widescreen and the usual 5.1 sound mix, this is a good crisp transfer. As you'd expect, the soundtrack is the real winner here with all the range used to full effect to capture the bass of the music performances etc.
- Extras -
Aside from some deleted scenes which are pretty much just extensions of existing scenes, the only other fare to be found on the disc are a series of featurettes. The making of is ok and we get some good behind the scenes footage and interviews with behind the scenes production staff. The other featurettes go deeper into the casting of the film and how they were prepared in a bootcamp style. The best featurette shows comparisons of the concert scenes interspersed with footage from real life B.I.G performances.
- Finally -
I liked the music in the film more than I liked the film which is a bit bland considering the subject matter.
Summary: Fails to get under the skin of it's subject