Get On Up

"Very Good"

Get On Up Review


With an appropriately jarring sense of energy, this James Brown biopic acutely captures the Godfather of Soul's iconic musical talents, although the fragmented script undermines any emotional kick in his story. The film also struggles to build up momentum, because it continually leaps between various chapters in Brown's life. Which means that it never quite connects these disparate episodes into one coherent narrative. Even so, Chadwick Boseman delivers an electrically charged central performance.

Boseman plays James from the time he was 16, thrown into prison for stealing a suit in 1949, until his comeback in the 1990s. Raised in a brothel run by his Aunt Honey (Octavia Spencer) after his parents (Viola Davis and Lennie James) abandoned him, James is in prison when he meets visiting gospel singer Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), who takes him in on his release. Together they form The Famous Flames, gaining small-time success as James catches the eye of a manager (Dan Aykroyd), a record executive (Fred Melamed) and the public. A string of major hits followed in the 1950s and 60s, then James went solo in the 70s before the usual issues of fame caught up with him: money, drugs and guns. But he returned to the stage in the 1990s.

The film completely skips over his Hollywood years in the 80s, which wouldn't be a problem if the decade was so notably missing from the film. As the story skips back and forth through the years, the audience is forced to make sense of the disparate scenes, filling in several holes along the way. Aside from one rather surreal scene in a Southern Gospel church, there's never much of a sense of how Brown found his voice or developed his inimitable style. It also never quite captures his impact on the music industry as a whole.

On the other hand, this is a terrific celebration of Brown's music. And in a role that spans 40 years, Boseman delivers an astoundingly physical performance that explodes with charisma. The most resonant relationship in the film is his loyal but strained connection with Byrd, played with open-handed emotion by Ellis. Director Tate Taylor (The Help), adds plenty of artistic flourishes that weave the music into each sequence. So even if the various parts of the film never gel together dramatically, they create an eye-popping and toe-tapping collage about an artist who defied expectations and still has a major influence on the music world.



Get On Up

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 139 mins

In Theaters: Friday 1st August 2014

Box Office USA: $30.5M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Jagged Films, Universal Studios, Imagine Films Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 80%
Fresh: 115 Rotten: 29

IMDB: 7.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Tate Taylor

Producer: , , , Victoria Pearman

Starring: as James Brown, as Bobby Byrd, as Susie Brown, as Syd Nathan, as Baby Roy, as Aunt Honey, Nick Eversman as Mick Jagger, as Yvonne Fair

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Get Back Movie Review

Get Back Movie Review

Roger Appleton's documentary 'Get Back' looks into the music scene that come out of Liverpool....

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Advertisement
Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.