Actors: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Craig Robinson, Octavia Spencer, Nelsan Ellis
Director: Tate Taylor
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Color, Widescreen
Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (DTS 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (DTS 5.1)
Subtitles: French, Spanish, English
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 2
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: January 6, 2015
Digital Copy Expiration Date: May 2, 2016
From the opening sequence that has Chadwick Boseman in make-up as an aged James Brown pulling a shotgun on the employees of his car dealership for using his personal restroom, it is quite clear that Get on Up is determined not to be your typical straightforward biopic. From winks and nods to the camera from the protagonist to a narrative that jumps back and forth in time as a means of maintaining high octane storytelling fitting the subject, this is a movie set out to capture the essence of James Brown over aspects of realism. Just the same, Boseman’s incredible performance is so frighteningly accurate that the film remains grounded despite all of the filmmaker bells and whistles and shortcomings in storytelling.
The screenplay from Jez and John-Henry Butterworth (Edge of Tomorrow) jumps around from various life events of James Brown, beginning with the early abandonment by his mother and a life of crime that eventually led him to jail. There is also a great deal left out, and some of the more unsavory facts are removed to give the character a chance at winning over the audience in typical biopic structure. With four failed marriages (only two of which are represented in the film), romantic love cannot carry the central theme of the film like many other biopics (Creation, Walk the Line, The Iron Lady). This leaves the love of a friendship that Brown had with fellow musician, Bobby Byrd (Nelson Ellis), though he spends most of the film’s run time being abused and underappreciated.
The drama of Brown’s elevation to fame and the subsequent neglect of those around him is predictable and sanitized beyond effectiveness, but all is forgiven when Boseman takes the stage as the “hardest working man in show business.” This performance paired with director Tate Taylor’s ability to retain an element of fun throughout the film creates a mood that is as infectious and energetic as Brown’s persona, despite whatever storytelling shortcomings there are. Even with a solid supporting cast, it is Boseman that will stay in the memory after watching this film.
The Blu-ray combo pack comes with a DVD and Digital HD copy of the film, along with some exclusive special features. These extras include two featurettes about Brown, along with some great additional footage. Along with the obligatory deleted scenes, there are full and extended song performances to highlight the strength of this film even further. The other special features, also included on the DVD, include a commentary track with
There are also featurettes about Taylor, Boseman and the difficult journey to
getting this film made. Taylor
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 8/10