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  • The opinion on IMDb on this film seems to be pretty split and the reason appears to be because many are not writing their opinions of the film so much as they are reviewing Biggie and/or hip-hop itself. So the unquestioning 10* reviews rave about the man and his music, while the 1* reviews talk more about the aspects of the music and culture he represents than they do about the film. I was curious to see what the film was like on its own merits so I made an effort to see it recently. The truth of the matter that the film is "ok" but not anything more than that – and I say that as a hip-hop listener who likes more east coast than west coast.

    The problem with the film is that it is far to driven by ticking boxes of people and events. As a result it doesn't flow so much as it does introduce people and things in a way that the audience will recognise. This is all well and good but it breaks up the film as a dramatic piece – for example with Lil' Kim, she is not allowed to just be part of the story, no, when she is introduced we even get a shot of her name badge so we can all be sure from the start as to who she is. It is like this with events as well, and the dialogue is surprisingly expositional in its nature with far too many characters seemed to be talking just for the sake of filling in blanks or moving to the next scene. As a sort of summary of Biggie's career this is fine I suppose but when it comes to caring about the characters then it does hurt it quite bad.

    Not that the film is overly concerned with the characters because the events-driven script doesn't really have any. Before anyone messages me with insults, I can see that there are physically people on the screen there, doing and saying things as these people, but in terms of character development and depth there is none. Nobody ever feels real – partly because of the dialogue but also because the material doesn't give anybody room to develop. This is best seen in the "second-tier" characters such as Puffy and the many women in Biggie's life but it comes over differently with Biggie himself. Contrary to his musical personae, the film does not play up the negative side of Biggie's life too much. It cannot completely hide it though and we do get lots of infidelity and things like him happily selling crack to a pregnant woman. However all of these things tend to be deliberately cancelled out later on in some daft and unnecessary scenes. For example we get to see the crack user years later, fine and playing with her child (also fine) and of course much is put right by conversations, commitments and phone calls on the night that he gets killed. Such things damage the film further as both a record and as a dramatic film – I didn't want "warts & all" but an edge of realism and criticism (where warranted) would have been good.

    It might be them or it might be the material but either way, the cast are not that great. Woolard does a solid impersonation of Biggie and deal well with the material but he has nowhere to go with his character other than the specifics of the scene – there is not a man inside his performance so much as an image of a man. Luke and Bassett are both very talented actors but neither gets to showcase that here – indeed Luke is only memorable for how well he nails Puffy's dancing style. Naughton's Lil Kim sticks in the mind for reasons other than her performance (although again as an impression it is good enough for here). Smith, Ringgold, Mackie and others just do the basics as the film gives them no other options.

    The end result is a film that looks good and covers a lot of ground but doesn't work as a dramatic film. The people and events are there but they are only ever names and things that happen – never real people or events that come from the story. The cast turn in solid but not that good performances accordingly but nobody can raise it beyond what it is. Not "bad" generally but just really lacking over what I would have expected from a biopic.
  • First off, I went to see this movie, just left as a matter of fact and I think the movie was very well done. For the people saying that the movie was anti-climatic, what was the climax supposed to be ? We all know how it ends, or should they have added more to the story for dramatic effect so we could then talk about how fake it was, and how it didn't really happen that way ? They told it the way it happened It seems that many people are forgetting that this was a movie about someone's life, not somethingfabricated or concocted simply for the purpose of entertainment. It is supposed to tell a story,his story and if you are a true fan of B.I.G. then that should be the reason you went to see it. What good would that have done to his legacy to fill the movie up with speculation about who did what, if anything it just would have reignited the war between east and west for trying to implicate people in the shooting. The purpose was to show that behind the persona of Big Poppa was a real person, a person that loved and was loved by many people. Honestly its silly to be upset about the fact that it doesn't tell you who shot Pac, or B.I.G.,why diminish from the memory of either by using Biggie's life story to speculate on something that no one but those responsible, knows the answer to ? Also Pac, though I am a huge fan of his music as well, is just a supporting character, this movie wasn't about him, it was about Christopher Wallace, the man, the son, the father and the husband. I get sick of people making comments with no basis or foundation. Of cours things are going to be left out, it's inevitable,seeing as how you can't fit 24 years of someone's life into 2 hours of film, they put in the parts that were relevant to the story of how he came up, his brief career which introduced him to us all, and his tragic ending. I for one was touched, I bobbed my head, I laughed, I reminisced and I cried, and for 1 movie to evoke that many emotions, I say it's a job well done. I for one think B.I.G would be proud, so if you are one of those people that don't even like rap music, then here's some advice:don't even post a comment, better yet don't go see the movie, keep your negative comments to yourself. For those that loved B.I.G he was special to us, and deserving of his story being told just like anybody else who has left us and had their story touch our lives. He left a void, and hip-hop hasn't been the same since he left us. I loved the movie, and would gladly pay my $6.50 to see it again.
  • Back in the 90's as a teen, I never really got in to Biggie's music or lyrics. I never knew the correlation between he and all these artists like "Puff Daddy" Faith Evans, Lil Kim all came up together. I never understood how the East Coast West Coast feud got started.

    This film gave me a new respect for Christopher Wallace. His intelligence and how he tied that in to his passion for music and lyrics. He had a dream as a child and in the end he achieved that dream of not just becoming a success as a performer, but a success as a father to his children, a good son to his mom, and a good man to himself.

    I love that line in the move "If you wanna change the world, First you've got to change yourself"

    Inspirational film, even if you're not a fan of his music or hip hop, you can still appreciate the story behind this man.
  • That should have been the title of the movie. Everything about this movie glorified Big..... if he was a nerdy student - he's gonna the nerdiest student.... if he was a drug dealer - he was gonna be the biggest drug dealer - complete with him sitting in a dark room with that one light that shines down on the table (classic).... if he didn't know anything about Tupac's murder - then he's gonna appear as if he was absolutely oblivious to that entire situation.... not to mention one of the supporting characters in this movie, Kim.... if Kim was gonna be a ho - she's gonna be the dirtiest ho ever.... If I didn't know any better, I would assume the only way she came up was by f'king Biggie.... This is a one-sided, shallow view of a person's life. Biggie fans want to remember his legacy flawless and that can be understood. Sure why not? This movie was made for you..... It's a story told as though a mother is speaking of her lost son who could do no wrong.....

    Recommendation: Why not learn who Biggie was by beefing up the content of the supporting cast.... his first baby's momma for starters, and what about other artists that he interacted with? We could have seen a more developed, well-rounded and truthful character. Possibly even learn something about him that hasn't already been discussed in magazines or on TV....
  • Warning: Spoilers
    'Notorious' is the story of Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls who became one of the most popular rap artists in the 1990s until he was gun downed at the very young age of 24. Biggie is played by newcomer Jamal Woolard who does a decent job playing Wallace, considering he never acted before.

    The first 45 minutes of the film are the most interesting as it focuses on Biggie's early career as a drug dealer. He's constantly arguing with his mother (played by the always solid Angela Bassett) who finally throws him out of the house after he won't give up his drug-dealing ways. Eventually he lands in jail where he starts writing rap lyrics which he eventually fashions into full-fledged songs in the recording studio. The era is ably recreated as we're given a sense of how rap music developed during the 1980s and early 90s.

    After his release from jail, Biggie starts building a reputation as a talented rapper in his Brooklyn neighborhood. He becomes a protégé of up and coming producer Sean "Puffy" Combs (one of the producers of the movie) who takes him under his wing. When Puffy is fired, Biggie goes back to drug-dealing only to find himself arrested again. This time however, a friend offers to take the rap on a gun charge and Biggie has a second chance to resume his career.

    The rest of the movie chronicles Biggie's eventual rise to the top. I was a little uncertain as to how Biggie actually got there. At one point he's 'paying his dues' playing college gigs at places like Howard University. The next thing you know he's got a number one hit record.

    If one is to believe the screenwriters, despite Biggie's involvement in the violent world of rap music, he was really a big Teddy Bear at heart. He's a character who can basically do no wrong. Even though he cheats on the three women he's closest to (the mother of his child, his wife and Lil Kim, fellow rap artist and lover), they all forgive this Teddy Bear despite his boorish behavior.

    Notorious lacks a central external antagonist who Biggie is pitted against throughout the movie. If there is an antagonist, it's got to be Tupac Shakur, the West Coast rapper who had a falling out with Biggie after he was shot outside a NYC recording studio. There are few dramatic scenes between Biggie and Tupac in Notorious and the relationship is mainly fleshed out through the use of an off-screen narrator. While Biggie admires Tupac as a philosopher and activist, he also perceives him as a loose cannon. According to Biggie's version, after Tupac was shot for the first time, he became completely paranoid and believed everyone was after him (including Biggie).

    As Biggie tells it, he made attempts to reconcile with Tupac but it never really worked out. Meanwhile the media played up the "East Coast-West Coast rivalry" which may have eventually led to the assassination of both Tupac and Biggie. The 'rivalry' is explained through a montage sequence which made me feel I was watching a documentary and not a feature film.

    The second half of Notorious mainly involves Biggie's internal struggles, particularly in the area of becoming a more responsible adult. Again, if you believe the screenwriters, despite acting irresponsibly with women and immersing himself in the thuggish, materialistic world of rap music (an involvement in a world which eventually led to his death), Biggie managed to stay 'above the fray'. The point is made that his second (and last) album revealed a more 'sensitive' side and that he was turning away from violence right before he died.

    One gets a feeling that the writers of Notorious have little information as to Biggie's dealings in his behind the scenes business world. Certainly they offer no theories as to who did him in. Instead, we're treated to all the histrionics of his volatile relationships with women (which basically proves that he was a 'ladies man' and nothing much else). By focusing mainly on his relations with women, we only get to see one side of Biggie and I didn't feel this was a complete, rounded picture.

    Probably the weakest character in the film is Puffy Combs. Since he's one of the film's producers, it's not in his interest to suggest anything controversial about his own character. Thus, Derek Luke has little to do in this film except act the part of a glorified cheerleader.

    Notorious touches on all the bases of Christopher Wallace's life. For those unfamiliar with all the details, it's a modestly interesting and somewhat entertaining story. Nonetheless, the filmmakers chose to place their protagonist on a pedestal. By doing so, they imply that Biggie was detached from the violent world which he was a part of. That somehow he was an unsuspecting victim who had nothing to do with his own demise. The truth was probably somewhere in the middle—that at times he could be Biggie the Teddy Bear and at other times, Biggie the Thug. Instead of a hagiography, Notorious needed to present more of a balanced portrait but it settled for an excessively sentimental and by the numbers treatment which earns it an average "5" in my book.
  • George Tillman Jr.'s "Notorious," a by-the-numbers biopic about the life of Brooklyn rapper Christopher "Notorious B.I.G." Wallace (1972-1997), is sure to only please the members of his core fan-base, myself amongst one of them. I was 11 in March 1997 when Biggie Smalls was shot and killed in Los Angeles, California, just seven months after his friend and fellow rap artist Tupac Shakur (1971-1996) was shot and killed in Las Vegas; Tupac died the day after my 11th birthday in 1996.

    Many thought that their murders were part of the whole East Coast/West Coast rivalry between rap artists during the mid '90s. Both Big and Tupac became the unlikely martyrs of gangsta rap and the violence that characterizes it. What's most shameful about that is that over a decade after their deaths, it seems that the hip-hop community has yet to learn a very valuable lesson.

    But I'm getting off-track. "Notorious" is a well-made and well-acted movie. Unfortunately, however, it's too by-the-numbers and follows the tried-and-true methods of most biopic storytelling: it glamorizes the life of the character, goes from one success to another, and doesn't really shed anything new on the person the movie is about. Of course it traces the beginnings of Biggie's life, from growing up as a bright Catholic school student in Brooklyn raised by his loving mother Voletta Wallace (a perfectly cast Angela Bassett), to his dropping out of school at age 17 to sell crack on the streets to help feed his baby daughter, and his eventual being signed to the then-newly formed Bad Boy Records by his best friend Sean "Puffy" Combs (Derek Luke). The rest, as they say, is history.

    I also forgot to mention that Jamal Woolard, as Biggie, who is also an aspiring rapper himself, is probably the best thing about this movie. He really captures the essence, and character of Big, and not only does he look like him, but he also talks AND sounds like him. And his skills on the microphone are undeniable as well. He lends some authenticity to the film's rhyming sessions, rapping to the songs of the real-life Notorious B.I.G., and he pulls it off magnificently. It's a star-making performance that unfortunately gets overshadowed by too many of the film's flaws.

    The script (co-authored by Biggie's biographer Cheo Hodari Coker) skips from one success to another; that's the biggest problem with most biopics. Another problem I had was that the portrait of the main character was pretty one-sided. While I personally consider his debut record "Ready to Die" to be one of the most important and significant rap albums ever recorded - it helped return the East Coast rap scene to prominence - I'm not totally certain that he was truly one of the greatest rap artists who ever lived, especially after only two finished recordings. And I really would have liked to have seen more of Big's friendship with Tupac Shakur (Anthony Mackie), which I felt was one of the most overlooked and tragic aspects of his life during the East Coast/West Coast rivalries. (People often forget that not only were they friends early on, but they were very close friends.)

    And while I'm quite certain that the sex appeal of Lil' Kim (Naturi Naughton) is one of the reasons for her success as a rapper, I also feel that one of the reasons she's here, apparently, is to show A LOT of skin and seem like the biggest, baddest 'ho in hip-hop (that's debatable). Big's relationship with wife Faith Evans (Antonique Smith) was not all that well-developed either, as was Big's friendship with Puffy, or the members of Junior M.A.F.I.A., who he helped to promote along with Lil' Kim, whom he was carrying on an affair with while still married to Faith. I also would have liked to have seen some of the paranoia and fear that gripped Biggie in the final months of his life as well, and a little bit more on the aftermath of his murder.

    Like I said earlier, I'm a fan of the Notorious B.I.G. myself, and so I'm sure that I'm one of those people that would have liked "Notorious" a lot more. That's the biggest tragedy about his life and this film. His short life and violent death made him one of the most important, and tragic, figures in hip-hop. I also think it's a disgrace that not much has been done by law enforcement officials to try to solve his murder, or Tupac's for that matter, and the questions revolving around the involvement of corrupt police officers in both killings have yet to be followed up in any significant fashion by anyone.

    I'm not going to be a cliché: I don't think he was one of the greatest rappers, personally, but the impact of his music on the industry cannot be denied by anyone: he helped the East Coast's rise back to the top of the rap scene in the mid '90s. As for the movie about his life, on the hand, it could have been better - a lot better.

    7/10
  • DelBongo18 June 2009
    This film reminded me of The Sopranos, and not in a good way.

    David Chase's seminal mob opera only ever put its foot wrong twice, the most jarring and inexplicable instance of which took place in its fourth season, when Junior Soprano went on trial for his life. Rather than pursue this riveting (and pivotal) plot line, the writers instead chose to completely ignore it, focusing instead on Bobby Baccalieri's constant whimpering over his recently deceased wife's frozen pasta dish.

    When something of genuine interest happens in Notorious - for example that first, mysterious assassination attempt on Tupac Shakur that ignited the whole East Coast/West Coast feud in the first place, and ended up leading to the deaths of both Tupac and Christopher Wallace - the film treats it as just another bit of plot to plod through. Why exactly was Tupac so convinced that he was sold out by his own people? Did he alone nurture his subsequent affiliation with Suge Knight? And was Lil' Kim's transformation from prim office drone into sex-obsessed, vampish diva really as banal as it appears here?

    None of these questions are even fleetingly addressed by the film's screenwriters, who are far more interested in depicting Wallace's turbulent love life to zero compelling dramatic avail. These sequences (including a brain-frazzlingly clichéd groupie indescretion in a hotel room) are so toothless and bruisingly manipulative that the only real comparison to be made is with a network TV movie.

    The storytelling, in both structure and content, is simplistic and trite. But more fundamentally, as a biopic; as something designed to celebrate its subject and educate the uninitiated on the intricacies of their life and work; the film is almost entirely worthless. The reliance on meat-and-potatoes genre plotting, coupled with the lifeless musical performances (an area in which a film like this should soar, surely) result in a film that appears to have been designed only to satisfy the whims and demands of those involved, leaving Wallace's questionable status as a giant in his field as the preserve of the easily persuaded and previously converted only.

    And the final twenty minutes, in which Wallace's posthumous cultural identity is broadly painted as being akin to that of a latter day saint, quite frankly made me feel like throwing up.

    On that score, much as with any other, Notorious is crass, calculating and compromised.
  • I watched this movie with great expectation. Besides the hype surrounding it, for someone who embraced hip hop for many years being influenced by the like of Biggie Smalls, Nas & Tupac to mention a few, it only made sense for me to want to watch this movie.

    From the beginning i could not seem to get over the way in which B.I.G was portrayed as this smart, lovable young boy because it made me look at him in a whole different light that i initially thought. I feel his son played the part well (though he did not have much to do). The story line is pretty straight forward and there are a few surprises concerning the emotions the characters invoke in you and make you understand them more deeply. The acting was not bad, i actually like the guy who acted as Biggie, he made the character quite interesting and lovable. The rest of the cast were not too bad either: Puffy, Faith Evans and the guy who played Biggie's manager were good too (don't expect any Oscar winners though!)

    From a neutral point of view (without being a Notorious B.I.G or Tupac fan) i really felt that they tried to explain the beef between the artists with a more lenient view of Biggie. When watching the movie i couldn't help but think how much Biggie was the 'bigger man' in the beef and that Tupac simply caught a fit at the wrong people. Then i had to ask myself a few questions about that. The movie makes you want to take Biggie's side on the whole issue. I don't know if this is true but i felt that it was rather unfair no matter how much of a nice guy Biggie was. In watching this movie its hard to see it any other way than that the beef was Tupac's fault. It's up to you to believe it or not.

    All in all it was a good effort, nothing too memorable but a story worth knowing especially if you want to know more about some of the most critical times in Hip Hop. Biggie fans will undoubtedly love this.
  • OK, I'll admit it. I love "The Notorious B.I.G". I, and many others see him as the king of Hip-hop/Rap. This movie really glorifies Biggie as well. First I'll talk about the main man himself, Jamal Woolard as Christopher"Biggie"Wallace. I know this is his first time acting in anything, and fair play to him. But Woolard does a really good job as Biggie Smalls. He brings every last detail off him to the screen. He's a jerk, but likable and funny. He did a great job and did some amazing rap scenes too.(e.g., "Juicy","Party and Bull", "Warning") This was an amazing movie too watch. I was only a baby in the 90's so I new nothing off this at the time. It really captured you in the feeling of how cool it was too live in this time. One thing I would have to disagree with other posters. Anthony Mackie did a great job as 2Pac. Yeah! He wasn't supposed to bring that much emotion to him. He was only a supporting character! It wasn't his movie. He only acted the way 2Pac did in those moments he came across Biggie. And he did a good job. He was charismatic . In those scenes. The one that really stood out for me was the actress who played Lil Kim. She was very impressive and one of the most well-cast characters in the movie. She was powerful and aggressive. Overall I loved this movie and I could watch it again and again. One off the years best so far. 9/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    While "Notorious" is a solid biopic of the life of East Coast rapper Christopher Wallace (better known as Biggie Smalls or Notorious B.I.G. because of his girth), the movie suffers ultimately by its one-sided, fawning portrait of the talented rapper, who was shot and killed at the age of 24 in 1997. Ironically saying, all the highly anticipated hype (and also luring the naive crowds, intriguing them naively of course) brought him back from the grave although, it also send the heavyweight back to the crypt in a Hollywood second. I say that with all do respect..

    The movie unravels near the end of its two-hour running time, as it seems as Wallace is trying to complete all of the items on a bucket list before his death: reconcile with his mother, take responsibility for his children, whisper sweet nothings to all of the women he has ever wronged (and there are plenty of them). Revealing his death isn't giving away the ending, because the first moments of the film reveal that he has been shot and killed.

    It's not all bad..

    What the extremely R-rated (which doesn't hurt) film does well is trace Wallace's life as a child abandoned by his father through his ascent to the top of the music world. Jamal Woolard portrays Wallace from the age of 17 to his death. He does a serviceable job of expressing the flaws in Wallace's character and his early attraction to the mean streets during his days as a drug dealer, but Derek Luke as the charismatic (and, obviously, angelic, considering who produced the movie) Combs and Anthony Mackie as rapper Tupac Shakur steal every scene they are in with their over-sized personalities. Let me get this right, Notorious is the title no? This overtaking of a supporting role reminds me of the Dark Knight, scheming the joker into the finish line of attention.

    Back to the bad..

    This movie had nothing special to offer, at least nothing more than the Wikipedia entry. Another thing this film provides is the proof of the director's cliché. No experience, or at least nothing more than a his ridiculous Soul Food and Barbar Shop franchises that were compost-filled films. The script lets too much slide, and Anthony Mackie was a horrid choice, he couldn't provide the sense of Pac at all.

    There's no sense of reality, no feel of the streets, none of the raw zest and spark that spilled out of Biggie's music. This is the type of biopic Hollywood made in the '40s about people like Johann Strauss or Cole Porter: phony to its bones.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Look,I'm reading and reading this comments and there's a lot of it that I wanna say but I will try to make it short but clean...

    First of all, lets forget all of the things how bad this movie was made...How it didn't show anything of Notorious and I agree with the most people here saying that it was "Hollywood", I mean, what did you expect a real life story? When will people wake up and see that u will never ever find the real truth about 2pac and Biggie... Its all covered up and buried deep down.

    Second, I'm not against neither 2pac or Biggie I love them both but 2pac and Lil Kim DID get embarrassed in this movie for sure...

    Next, for all of ya that are saying that the movie is awesome and cant see the truth, either u are too blind too see it because u think u know something about BIG or you don't know anything about him at all and u love this Hollywood teenage movies. Use your mind and see though the clouds... There is a lot of it you could say when it gets to this topic, I did not say 60% of what I have to say because its a very wide topic but for the movie I can only say that it could have been a little bit, I mean a much better done. But anyways I'm just some person giving her opinion....No hard feelings...

    Look, I love hip hop and I live for it but after seeing this movie every person with a little intelligence could see that this is not how someone is suppose to live. With all do respect for 2pac and BIG, like all the other artists who are making for a living like this should turn the other page because u are ruining the youth....Bringing the wrong message to the children and that is: not going to school but living from the streets, hustling and just grabbing for the paper....

    The true hip hop is suppose to be about love and intelligence, be smart and all.

    OK I know that many of you will think that I'm crazy, but this is just my point of view. Look I am maybe wrong about something and Im not saying this is a completely bad movie because even if I'm in hip hop for 17, 18 years I still don't know anything bout 2pac or Biggie no matter how many articles I read or how much I support them and listen to their music...Like most of you all out there. Only people who were really close to them and the killers know the truth behind all this.

    And for the end I just wanna say for all of ya Biggie and Tupac fans and family, this two men were and will be the greatest of all time, no matter how they lived their lives but PLEASE IN THE FUTURE TRY TO BE BETTER, LEARN AND LOVE EACH OTHER, THINK GOOD EVEN FOR THE ONES THAT Don't LIKE YOU, BECAUSE AT THE END...ITS NOT ABOUT HOW MANY MONEY OR FAME U COULD GET AND HOW FAST U COULD GET TO THE TOP, ITS ABOUT ACCOMPLISHING YOUR SELF TO THE FULLEST AND FEEDING YOUR SOUL, YOUR BODY AND MIND...BECAUSE IF U MANAGE TO DO THAT, YOU WILL BE LIVING A LIFE EVEN AFTER DEATH!!!! PEACE AND LOVE TO YA ALL!!!! RIP BIGGIE,2PAC,AALIYAH,LEFT EYE,JAM MASTER JAY AND THE OTHERS WHO MAKE A CHANGE IN THIS WORLD!!!!
  • MY girlfriend and I went to see this opening night and I was a little worried about the director and first time actor Jamal Woolard but it turned out to be a great film. Now i am a Biggie fan so you may think this is biased but it was a well done movie and showed you the life of biggie and how he made it. There is a couple things that i thought were not so good about the movie like go more in depth his younger years so we learn more about him and also go deeper into the feud with him and pac. But other than that Jamal Woolard gave a great performance as well as the rest of the cast. Now my girlfriend doesn't even like rap and she liked this movie so i would suggest it to anyone. I am surprised about the bad rating but i guess people hate on the best rapper of all time too much lol
  • Warning: Spoilers
    As a fan of Notorious B.I.G., I was looking forward to this movie. I am unfortunate to see it is a terrible movie. Jamal Woodward is not convincing or realistic enough to portray Notorious B.I.G. A lot of the story follows Notorious B.I.G.'s real son, Christopher Jordan Wallace as Notorious B.I.G. as a kid. Unfortunately, he is not convincing enough to pay tribute to his father. Derek Luke is just as unconvincing as Sean "Puffy" Combs. In a nutshell, no one is convincing enough to play their roles here. The big problem with this are these are actual people they are playing. It was boring, and did not give any information about Notorious B.I.G. that fans and non-fans alike did not already know. I was especially disappointed with Angela Bassett, a very good actress wasted here as Voletta Wallace. The movie slugs and slugs along thinking that Notorious B.I.G. fans will spend tons of money on it. I am unfortunate to say that that happened. It's nowhere close to a good movie. I was expecting so much out of it, but unfortunately I didn't get anything I wanted from this. I think you should definitely skip this one.
  • Derek Luke deserves a standing ovation. Without him, the movie would have been a complete waste. Jamal Woolard and Antonique Smith were good as well, but none of the cast could match the level that Derek Luke set as Puffy. Overall, the three really captured the essence of their characters, as we know them now and knew them then. But, the movie fell short of good characters aside from these three. The biggest disappointment being Anthony Mackie as 2Pac.

    There must be a shortage of young, black, male actors because Mackie could not carry the essence of 2Pac. He does not physically resemble Pac, though he tried to, he couldn't capture the sense of poetry, serenity, and social consciousness that the world knows 2Pac for. Instead Mackie made 2Pac look irrational, paranoid, and just plain stupid. For that, Mackie should not be invited back to the hip hop movie world.

    Lil Kim, played by Naturi Naughton (the girl who got kicked out of 3LW), was acted out beautifully, but the actual character was written a little over the top.

    The biggest flaw of all is the fact that the movie had no interpretation and no real drama. It was a biopic without an opinion. There is no "theory" as to who could have been behind the shootings of 2Pac or Biggie, and I think people would have preferred to see that. Maybe George Tillman Jr. is afraid of repercussions if he expresses an opinion.

    This movie missed the drama mark by miles. You will notice that as scenes are about to reach their dramatic peak, they are over. You basically wait and wait and wait for the real drama to occur, and you look up and the movie is over.

    Overall, I'm happy I saw the movie at matinée price and not at regular price.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I must say that honesty is always the best policy, and this movie is no exception.

    The movie was Okay, very vague, and honestly never really dug deep to show who Biggie really was. So either the director was scared of criticism, or there just wasn't anything really interesting about the man. The acting was Okay, honestly it was better than expected. Overall I'll give it a 5/10 for effort.

    First of all I will start by saying that Biggie was truly talented and gifted, and he was a central Hip-Hop figure in the mid-1990's. But that is all, people! He wasn't Dr. King for God's sakes!!!! Let's be honest I enjoyed and still enjoy his music, but let's stop kidding ourselves. 2 1/2 albums qualifies no one to be "the greatest rapper of all time", please cut it out & use your brains!!! Biggie had a long way to go before he could ever hold that title. Hell, NWA revolutionized the realness of Rap. They were the first to really talk about Hood life and Hood things. And Biggie is just one of many talented people who followed in their foot steps. Sadly he never talked about much else, he was never reflective, or adamant about other issues. He talked about himself, partying, women, drugs, and money (How Original). We have to stop Kidding ourselves.

    I won't now compare him to 2pac because there is no comparison. Pac wasn't commercial like Biggie was, but that didn't matter because, when he rapped about himself he blew you away. no one tells the truth as honestly & vulnerably as Pac. Furthmore, he didn't hold anything back. He also cared about bettering the Hood, and used his music to be inspirational as well as informative. Yes he loved the T.H.U.G. life, (which he defined as "coming from nothing and turning it into something") but he was also very politically and socially aware. He was very dynamic and cared about spreading his philosophy, and over the last 14 1/2 years and 6-7 after death albums its evident that his music and message were the most important things to him. C'mon people, it's time to end the fake "controversy" and leave two talented men to rest!!
  • Jaysdatruth18 January 2009
    The Movie was way better then I thought. The actors/actress in it resembled each person in everyway possible. The little kim character was on point even the way she spit those lyrics in the bedroom. According to Naturi Naughton who played the role of little kim she never rapped before but you couldn't tell the way she flowed. When she performed in that lacey outfit towards the end you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between her and kim. The biggie character played by gravy was also on point as well. The voice, build and complexion was spot on. When the faith character sung "I remember" I couldn't believe how great she sang, and it didn't look like she was lip sycn-ing at all. I really enjoyed the movie and it brought me back to those great times in college when I was hooping for Suny Farmingdale.

    I was disappointed about one thing and that was the drama aspect. Nothing surprised me about it, because everything in the movie we already knew. It wasn't one thing in the movie that left anything to the imagination. It was very predictable because I already knew he sold drugs, he went to jail, then got discovered by puffy, he blew up, then he died. So probably 15 minutes into the movie I pretty much knew what would happen next. I still loved it and the music in it.
  • liamtoh5521 February 2009
    There are a few people on here saying that this is a good film, and that it is a very honest 'feel-good' movie. These people know nothing about movies or The Notorious B.I.G.

    OK so firstly, this film is not a factual account of the events in his life, AT ALL! There are huge portions that have been left out in favour of endlessly dragging out minor details to fill some sort of void of idiocy. It is massively 'Hollywoodized', and many facts have been left out in order to make Wallace out to be a much better man than he really was (which is much the case when a celebrity dies young). Oh, and the picture painted of Tupac Shakur is one bordering on the psychotic. Tupac is made out to be the bad guy during their feud in a BIG way, and I would like to see someone make a movie from HIS point of view.

    NOTE: Come to think of it, I think the movie would be more passable if they changed all of the names and locations in order to make it totally fictional, in favour of pseudo-fictional.

    Secondly, even if you ignore the facts not being accurate, it's easy to see how poorly made this movie is. It looked as though they used cardboard sets straight out of a cheap soap opera; the direction and cinematography was awful; and the script was full of 'people-wouldn't-say-that-in-real-life' ridiculousness!! On top of that, around 60% of the acting in this movie was pretty damn poor.

    My advice is: DO NOT watch this movie, unless of course, you have the opportunity to watch it for free.
  • I really liked this movie--mostly because it gave me insight and understanding for the world of hip-hop. I don't love the music, although by now I don't really notice it, and even some of it has likeably good rhythm. But the point here is that the despite the misogynist & violent lyrics, I now have more tolerance for how they came to be.

    I think the movie is a bit slow at times, the characterizations a bit stereotyped, the relationships a bit simplified--nevertheless, the humanity involved does come across.

    One point made in the movie is that Biggie was smart--(the scene in the math class when he solves the problem no one else wants to tackle and he has even been cutting class). But the question that I ask is, was he the huge success because he was sufficiently smart and then lucky to partner with Puffy? Or was he extremely smart and missed his chance to become something more traditional and still be successful --like a senator? (not to mention, President!)

    Talking about smart, I think what comes across in the movie is that Biggie's mother had Emotional Intelligence, and Biggie didn't--but he did have Musical Intelligence. It's a good movie, perhaps even a better movie for those of us who have very little knowledge of the world it portrays.

    Lastly, I was disappointed that the movie didn't play the song that Puffy & Faith Evans made for Biggie, a remake of "I'll Be Missing You". For years, I have listened to this rap version with Faith's gospel voice interweaving-- a truly beautiful rendition, but I never knew the significance of this song. It would have been a perfect song to use during the final credits.
  • Biopics can either try to cover the highlights of a person's life, or focus on a single part of it. This one does the former, and it should have done the latter. The cast is great, and music blends in really well, and if this movie relates to something you are interested in then I am sure you will love it - but I would have preferred it focusing on either BIG in his early years, or, more preferably, the feud with 2pac. Having both did neither part justice. That said, BIG as they presented him, seemed like an under-achiever. He worked hard with his music, but mostly things seemed to just fall in his lap because of the people around him. If this is true or not, I don't know.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a movie that I was looking forward to, until the reviews started rolling in....

    Now obviously, I don't take the critics word as the gospel truth, and more often than not, I disagree with them, but I thought the producers and directors must have messed something up, to be getting all the negative backlash.

    I suppose the best way to properly start this review is by asking a question - What exactly did you want from the movie? I was expecting, and looking forward to, a dramatised portrayal of the life and times of Christopher Wallace, which is exactly what I got, and I enjoyed every minute of it, from start to finish.

    Now being a long time fan of the Notorious B.I.G, may imply that this review could be biased, but I can assure you that I am, more often that not, more than ready to attack a movie and pick it apart, no matter what it is.

    As someone who knows the ins and out of the story, obviously, there were some things that bothered me slightly, including the void of some key characters who played a big part in Biggie's life, and the less than impressive casting of Tupac and Puffy's characters. Referring to the last point, their acting was great, but on appearance, Anthony Mackie looks nothing like Shakur, and lacked the charisma and iconic presence that Pac had. Big boots to fill. I felt the same way about the actor who played Puffy.

    During the east coast vs west coast segments, the movie was slightly biased towards the Bad Boy camp, but come on, this is a movie to celebrate Big's life. It didn't bother me at all. There are plenty of documentaries and articles for one to read, if they want a purely fact based, and raw account of the story, from both parties.

    Now back to the positives. Jamal was absolutely incredible as BIG. A flawless performance.

    The movie was gripping throughout, and I found myself eagerly awaiting the progression.

    The acting was generally good, and the soundtrack was almost perfect, apart from one or two tracks that I would have liked to have seen/heard in the mix, but thats just personal opinion.

    Now for those who are not a fan of Biggie, or Hip Hop for that matter, I would not cross this off your list yet. You won't be overly bombarded with hardcore gangster rap songs, thuggery and street slang. Obviously, Biggie's songs are prominent throughout, but the music is not relentless, and I'm almost sure that these guys had a wider target audience in mind when making the film. This is not a film that is just for 'the fans' or those on the 'streets'.

    Obviously, Big was no angel, and some of his ways, especially in his earlier life, could offend some. Certain scenes involving sex, drugs, and cheating had to be present, in order to maintain an accurate depiction of the man.

    Lil Kim had a problem with the way her character was portrayed, and I can see why. I don't know enough about her life, or her role in Big's life to comment, so I will have to look into that someday.

    We all know what happens in the end, so its no spoiler. I was a little choked. I didn't think I would be, but I was. A sign that the crew have done their job correctly. The movie hit the right spots. Excitement, sadness, and inspiration.

    The conclusion? I loved the film, and look forward to watching it again with some friends.

    This is not Oscar worthy by all means, and I'm sure people will continue to nitpick away, but once again, these people really need to ask themselves what they were expecting, and what exactly they wanted from a biopic film.

    8/10
  • The rapper, much like a fellow form of entertainer the clown, is a persona that relies on masking weaker aspects of character and temperament in order to fulfil their role as exactly that—a person that people will be able to relate to or find solace within. Of course, comparing a rapper directly to a painted circus act only goes so far until all attempts at providing an ample analogy wear thin. Instead, rap is an artistic movement that attempts to convey the rags-to-riches story with poetry laced over simplistic musical backings built to elicit response of an audience out to either get down or simply share in that collective stream of pathos. Yet the masks that both wear nevertheless serve the same function; while the Notorious B.I.G. would eventually become key in a movement of hip-hop stars making music through the soul rather than pure social frustration, there nevertheless remains a code of conduct or, ethic to being a rap star that overrides any form of drama within the person's life to take centre-stage. Notorious takes the mask off.

    Notorious then, which takes the form of a bio-pic documenting famed star Christopher "Biggie" Wallace's rise from the gutter is an unmasking of sorts that goes beyond the gold chains, sunglasses, sleek rhymes and ultra-cool persona to reveal the man behind the music. The concept of course is as old as boots, but too often it is the case that such ventures into famed celebrity lives are either told with no care for genuine character-investment or instead play far too loosely with the facts. It's a pleasure then that Notorious which is directed by George Tillman Jr. (his first feature film since the underrated Men of Honor in 2000) does well to balance both the facts and the drama to ample effect with no neglect at all given to the music that propelled Biggie to stardom. Instead, Notorious plays out like a substantive character drama that always keeps the focus on Christopher Wallace rather than Biggie Smalls, and the result is compelling in its ability to stuff in so much material into its runtime without seeming overly abundant or superfluous. Most importantly of all however is that Tillman's effort here resonates far more emotionally than one would expect; sure, the rags-to-riches story is fast becoming a sickly cliché, but Notorious remains true to its story regardless and ends up coming out feeling genuinely compelling without resorting to mundane and transparent devices.

    No doubt key to the entire productions success however, regardless of how finely constructed the screenplay may be is the performance by leading man Jamal Woolard who not only embodies Christopher Wallace to a fine point, but also nails what is demanded of him when chants of "Biggie" take form. Indeed, much of Notorious' ability to keep things flowing and feeling fresh is through such instances where the drama is interlaced with Wallace's more public persona throughout the many musical interludes that transpire as the rapper makes a name for himself. Much also has to be said for Woolard's co-stars who range from friends and family to old and new lovers, some famous, some not so famous. The result is an ensemble that do well to shine on their own grounds but never get enough screen time to detract the attention away from the man himself. Of course, this does have some detrimental effect on some elements of the script's focus (namely involving his mother who battles breast cancer) but with a runtime already clocking in at two hours with very little throwaway material therein, one can't complain too much.

    In the end it's obvious that existing fans of the Notorious B.I.G, Biggie Smalls, Christopher Wallace and all around hip-hop icon will no doubt find a lot more to enjoy here than casual onlookers, but even those with an affinity for these kinds of stories will find much to invest within here. Indeed, while a large portion of Notorious details the hardships that the young rapper had to overcome on his way to the top as well as many failings along the way also, it is this honest and compelling look at those words now infamously engrained within two of rap's most esteemed records that give Notorious all the flow and pathos of Biggie's work himself. And even if you can't appreciate that, then there's the fantastic soundtrack itself, the spot-on performances and a brief history lesson on one of the music industry's brightest and short-lived stars to enjoy.

    • A review by Jamie Robert Ward (http://www.invocus.net)
  • when i first heard notorious b.i.g. at 13, i was immediately blown away. his flow was some of the best i have ever heard. when he passed away, it left a hole in the hip hop community that will never be filled again. this film takes a look at his life story. the film looks at his relationship with his mother, and the streets. two totally different worlds that biggie is deeply in love with. he starts out as a loving mamas boy and grows to a greatly respected drug dealer and extremely talented rapper. his skills blow away everyone in his neighborhood and soon catches the attention of an aspiring c.e.o. by the name of Sean "puffy" combs. Combs starts his own record label, Bad Boy records, and immediately signs biggie. from there its a roller coaster ride as biggie takes the hip hop world by storm. and mo' money mo' problems as his beef with tupac takes a tragic turn that changes the hip hop world forever. newcomer jamal woolard makes his big screen debut, and shines as biggie. he has a natural charisma that captures biggies essence in every way. angela bassett plays voletta wallace, biggies mom, and her performance is great as always. the rest of the cast does a surprisingly good job, playing their roles as real people, and not caricatures of famous people. this film ran at around 120 mins and felt real and i had a great time watching it. this film brought back so many memories of my teens and made me realize how much the world misses the notorious b.i.g.
  • .After the Eminem/ 50 Cent successes on the big screen, along comes a movie depicting the life of the legendary Notorious B.I.G.. It's a biopic charting the life and death of the artist, who was killed in a drive by shooting 12 years ago in a case that's never been solved. . The rise-to-demise arc of the Notorious B.I.G. to his fans—is one bitter American success story, complete with class aspirations and ironic cultural give-and-take. Maybe it's stupid to expect complexities to be dealt with in a movie designed for easy digestion, much less one directed by George Tillman Jr.—the gentleman responsible for such true-story triteness as Men of Honor .He was poor, then became rich. He slung rock on the corner, then slung rhymes in the studio. He lived, then he died
  • I knew little about Notorious B.I.G. going into this movie, other than he was murdered in an East Coast/West Coast rapper feud which also claimed Tupac Shakur. I didn't know anything about his music or his life.

    What really made me like this movie was the way the writing, directing, and acting helped bring the character and his story to life. The movie went into a lot of depth about Wallace's upbringing in Brooklyn, about his mother, his absentee father, the neighborhood influences, his slide into the "Thug Life" of violence, drug dealing, and prison, all of which contributed to his development as an acclaimed rapper.

    I really enjoyed how his entertainment career development interacted with Lil' Kim, Puff Daddy, Tupac, and all of the others.

    Many people will be turned off by how this movie seems to glorify violence, objectifies women, and accepts the baser and more coarse aspects of inner city Black culture. Yet I can't help but find a lot to like in this movie, especially the story it tells, the characters it develops and explores, the live music scenes, and the acting, above all.

    Even if you hate rap music, this is a movie well worth renting.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I thought the movie was OK but very disappointed that they didn't capture the true image of his life. I was so anticipating to see his mother being an actual Jamaican, that it's driving me crazy. Just watching the beginning of the movie told me that the movie was not accurate. Which I completely lost interest just a matter of seconds from the beginning of the movie. I'm very disappointed, that's like watching a biography story on Mark Anthony and having Arnold play the part. I don't know what the writer was thinking missing a valuable piece of the movie which I'm sure his mother played a huge role in his life. I will say the movie was OK besides the major Fla!!!!!!
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