Biggie and Tupac (2002)

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Released 2-Jul-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Menu Animation & Audio
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Interview with Nick Broomfield
Notes-Additional Information
Discography
Filmographies-Crew
Notes-Christopher Wallace Foundation
Audio Commentary
Trailer-Donnie Darko; 24 Hour Party People; Spirited Away
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 107:49
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nick Broomfield
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Nick Broomfield
Tupac Shakur
Christopher Wallace
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Christian Henson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Biggie And Tupac is the latest documentary DVD release from the acclaimed director Nick Broomfield. This is a film which tries to piece together the story behind the unsolved murders of two American rappers, friends for years before the machinations of the rap music scene and their respective record labels drove a wedge between them. Following a lead from his friend, Broomfield had his interest in this story further sparked by the very public resignation of Officer Russell Poole when he was prevented from investigating fellow LAPD officers whom he believed to be implicated in the deaths.

     Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace) and Tupac Shakur were both highly successful performers in their chosen sphere of rap music. Indeed, Tupac was a major player in the rap scene and made an extremely healthy living from it - at one point selling US$80 million worth of records in a single year, before his untimely demise.

    The two rappers drifted apart when B.I.G. headed for the East Coast to work with Bad Boy Records - the label of Sean "Puff Daddy" Coombs whilst Tupac joined the West Coast rappers with Death Row Records (co-founded by Suge Knight and Dr Dre). This led to an infamous East/West Coast rivalry, which caused numerous gang-related killings. The best friends are shown to become deadly rivals - although this is denied by B.I.G. in interview footage taken before his own murder. The suggestion is that B.I.G. was somehow responsible for the killing of Tupac and that Biggie was himself killed in a gang retaliation. Broomfield digs deeper however and corrupt cops, FBI attempts to discredit the hip-hop scene and the involvement of Death Row's head Suge Knight (who employed tens of off-duty cops to work at Death Row) all come to the fore making this story a far from simple one.

    Broomfield is undoubtedly a very brave man. He shows little fear as he digs through the seedy side of the rap music scene. His subjects include corrupt policemen, corrupt record producers and violent criminals interviewed both on the street and in a high security prison. This is a man who is not afraid to take risks in his filmmaking, also witnessed in some of his earlier works. I have watched several of Broomfield's documentaries including Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam and Kurt And Courtney and I must admit to finding both of those more enjoyable than this current effort. There is no real resolution to this story - Broomfield raises a lot of questions, but ultimately the question of who was responsible for the murders remains unanswered. You certainly believe that there is much more behind these deaths than simple gang rivalry however. Death Row Records seem to be a scary bunch - witness their website, which indicates in a very thinly veiled threat that Snoop Dogg (accused of being a police informer by Suge Knight) could be shot on Knight's release from prison. Apparently he lives in fear of his life...the carefree world of popular music eh?

    The cinematography is rather repetitive, and Broomfield seems to pay very little attention to the visual impact of his documentary. He appears to feel that the message is in the commentary and interview footage - which it is - but to sit through scene after scene of footage taken through the windscreen of a car, prefaced by "this is us driving through Baltimore" type narration, borders on the tedious. Broomfield talks in a constant monotone which does not add any aural excitement to the film. Whilst I'm not suggesting it needs more special effects or a 5.1 soundtrack, I certainly feel that more attention could have been paid to the visual and aural interest of the feature - it can be quite a drag to watch at times. Additionally, Broomfield should spend a little less time in front of the camera as far as I am concerned. Still, conspiracy theories are always interesting and Broomfield works very hard to peel back the layers of this mysterious story.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The overall video transfer of this disc is acceptable given the constraints of a low budget and numerous different source materials.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 (not anamorphically enhanced). This is the original aspect ratio.

    The transfer is generally quite soft with grain occasionally significant and mildly distracting (for example at 6:23). The use of hand-held cameras leads to a lot of camera wobble which can be mildly annoying, but is par for the course with such documentaries.

    Blacks are variable, depending on the source material, ranging from being washed out to very dark indeed. Shadow detail is not particularly good with the darker parts of scenes disappearing into an impenetrable "black hole" (for example at 9:42). Colours are variable, again due to the disparate nature of the source materials (for example colour bleeding can be seen on the blue coat at 30:55). Skin tones are generally reasonable.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts and the overall softness of the transfer means there is no edge enhancement. Mild aliasing crops up from time to time as shimmer in several parts of the image. A moiré effect can be seen on the photograph at 45:07. Telecine wobble (or possibly hand-held camera wobble) is frequently present and can be mildly distracting at times - particularly whenever still photos are shown.

    There are innumerable minor film artefacts, which crop up mainly as white scratches and flecks throughout the film and the occasional "hair in the gate" (for example at 10:50). They are only mildly annoying however, due to the mixed nature of the source material - video, security camera footage, still photos and home videos.

    There are no subtitle tracks available, which is a shame as they would be handy for deciphering some of the thicker accents which crop up.

    This is a single sided, dual layered DVD 9 disc. I could not spot the layer change, so I assume it is sensibly placed between chapters.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The overall audio quality of this disc is acceptable with no major defects. It is, however, quite a boring soundstage, even for a documentary.

    There is a single English audio track available for the main feature which is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 encoded at 224 kbps. The surround flag is not enabled.

    Dialogue was usually clear, although some of the accents can be a bit thick, which does mean that careful listening is required at times. There are occasional lapses in clarity, but these are usually due to mishandling of microphones rather than the transfer itself. Audio synch was not problematic.

    The original music is very intermittent and is credited to Christian Henson. It is basically a light synthesizer track which is unremarkable. Numerous excerpts of rap songs make an appearance during the feature.

    The soundstage is very frontal - perhaps unsurprisingly for a documentary. However, given the subject matter is hip-hop/rap music, I expected more bass action from the backing track, and perhaps some more music footage. The surrounds see some minor use if Pro Logic is enabled.

    Your subwoofer may see some activity depending on your bass management set-up, however nothing dramatic as there is no LFE track present.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are numerous extras on the disc.

Menu

    The menu is a short piece of footage from the film accompanied by a loop of original music from the feature. It allows the selection of playing the movie, director's commentary, selecting of one of twenty-four chapter stops, trailers or additional features.

Commentary

    Director Nick Broomfield has a very boring voice. This commentary does provide some more information regarding the filming locations and the people who appear in the film, but it is a tedious listen. With a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps, this is a mildly interesting track if you are particularly interested in the subject matter.

Other Releases

    Trailers for other movies presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded 224 kbps.

Additional Scenes

    An extensive collection of scenes presented full screen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps, each with a brief introduction by Broomfield.

Interview with Nick Broomfield

    Presented full screen with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps, this featurette runs for 13:41 and gives Broomfield the chance to explain his motivations for making the documentary. His level of commitment to the making of the film is refreshing and he comes across as a very genuine person - this is a fairly interesting addition to the disc.

Additional Information

    A series of text-based screens providing a little more detail on Biggie, Tupac and various others embroiled in the case. These help clarify some of the relationships between the various protagonists.

Discographies and Filmography

    Seven pages of text detailing the recording history of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur, and the filmography of Nick Broomfield.

Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation

    Four pages of text detailing the educational mission of the above foundation, created after Biggie's death by his mother.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 version of this movie appears to be basically the same as our own. There does not seem to any reason to prefer one version over the other.

Summary

    Biggie and Tupac is a fairly brave investigation of the conspiracy theories surrounding the murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.. Broomfield is a dogged investigator but ultimately there are no real answers forthcoming, just more layers of deceit and suspicion. He is also a rather monotonous narrator, but if you can get over this and particularly if you are a fan of the rap scene, you may find this an interesting documentary.

    The video quality is acceptable given the low budget and nature of some of the source material.

    The audio quality is acceptable and doesn't have any major flaws.

    The extras are fairly extensive and mildly interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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