Get On Up
James Brown, the man of the unmistakable soul roar, is given a feature-length biopic eight years after his death with Get On Up – a super cool tribute to the godfather of funk. With Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger as producers, Tate Taylor pulling the directorial strings, and Chadwick Boseman in the illustrious lead role, this biographical drama is a vibrant depiction of a riotous universe of twisting limbs, crashing instruments and infectious rhythm. A universe of which James Brown was once the indisputable king.
A seminal figure in the wild world of funk and soul music, Brown left behind a musical legacy similar to the likes of Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. Get On Up largely succeeds in depicting Brown’s major contribution to a raucous time period through use of a luscious colour palate, superb casting choices, and a genuine intrigue in its topic. The film frenetically bounces between time periods with the same sort of maniacal energy that Brown pulsed out during performances. Taylor knows he has a lot of ground to cover, and takes a leaf from Brown’s work rate book in order to get it done – portraying each chaotic chapter of the musician’s lifetime with a restless, fascinated attitude.
Boseman is perfectly cast as Brown, succeeding in capturing the singer’s tireless, convulsing stage traits with aplomb. The make-up department certainly earn their keep, with Boseman occasionally looking eerily identical to the late, great funk man. But the actor himself deserves the plaudits, emulating everything about Brown from the singer’s husky, rapid chatter to his on-stage wince and wail. There’s too much in the performance for it to be a mere flash in the pan; Boseman is certainly one to watch.
Like Brown himself, Get On Up does have its flaws. There are several scenes that are strained and ultimately fall flat, and the boundless dynamism of the film does render it rather erratic on occasion. But with Boseman committedly dancing on top of an infectiously uplifting soundtrack, this film’s energy makes it hard to resist.
James Brown is unanimously considered as one of the greatest of all time. In movie terms, Get On Up doesn’t quite achieve those dizzying heights. But it’s a passionate portrait, created by a filmmaking team who are evidently amazed by the founding father of funk and the wild ride that he took during his lifetime. When a film is formed by people who genuinely love the project, the chances of overall success are always that bit greater. Here, this shows.
Get On Up is released nationwide on 21st November 2014.
Watch the trailer for Get On Up here: