Notorious (2009)

Out Now On-Demand

Biopic of the late, great Notorious B.I.G.. The actor with b.i.g. shoes to fill is Jamal Woolard, a fellow MC from Biggie's hometown of Brooklyn where the majority of the film will be set. A whole host of other hip hop celebrities are being portrayed throughout the story - P. Diddy, Lil Kim, Suge Knight and Tupac amongst them - that charts Biggie's rise out of the ghetto and into the big time before being shot dead in Los Angeles, 1997, at the peak of his fame.

Training Day's Antoine Fuqua was set to direct but pulled out at the last minute, so duties went to George Tillman who's last film was 2000's Men of Honour. Sean "Diddy" Combs is one of the producers.

Click here for our Notorious special - a brief history of hip hop's East Coast / West Coast 'wars'.

There’s a line in the movie where Tupac tells Biggie that the best times are on your way up, after that there’s nowhere to go but down. That piece of advice is also a pretty accurate summation of the film's strengths and weaknesses.

Focusing on Biggie’s rise from street kid to rapping icon, it brings plenty to the table. It gives equal time to his talents and flaws, injects the story with the atmosphere of New York’s urban milieu and uses hip hop music video techniques in interesting ways. On top of these expected but well executed elements, it displays a self-depreciating sense of humour - it doesn’t take its hero or the world he lives in too seriously. Jamal Woolard as Biggie is a great casting choice for the lead, too.

Things change though with the more dramatic segments near the film’s ending. As the jokes disappear, the story tries to forgive Biggie’s wrongdoings and pushes him closer towards martyrdom. This would work if the film tried to delve past the already established information of his death, but instead it is happy to recycle a superficial account of his last days that the audience probably already knows.

In spite of this, it’s a better hip hop biopic then Eminem or 50 Cent’s efforts, and an enjoyable piece of popcorn entertainment.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)

press

A good film in many ways, but its best achievement is the casting of Jamal Woolard, a rapper named Gravy, in the title role.

Empire [UK]

press

A hip hop hagiography that plays like a straight-to-TV movie.

Hollywood Reporter

press

For a man apparently making his first film, Woolard carries the movie like a pro. Cross your fingers that this is no fluke, for this guy could be a real comer.

Los Angeles Times

press

Through it all are the rhymes and the music, hugely enjoyable in their own right, and the long, large shadow of Biggie.

New York Times

press

Notorious settles into a curious comfort zone; it's half pop fable, half naturalistic docudrama. Not a bad movie, but nowhere near as strong as its soundtrack.

NZ Herald (Joanna Hunkin)

press

A big biopic that doesn't quite paint the full picture.

Premiere [USA]

press

Angela Bassett is great as his strict, single mother; The soundtrack is great, of course, and the ending features moving archival footage of the streets of Brooklyn after Wallace's murder.

Total Film [UK]

press

George Tillman’s serviceable but uninspired Biggie biopic contrives to ignore the elephant in the room. Was Biggie involved in Tupac’s shooting(s)?

TV3 (Daniel Rutledge)

press

If you’re a Biggy fan, you’ll easily see past the flaws of the film for the bliss it provides, and you’ll probably walk out misty-eyed. If you’re not a Biggy fan, as a modern Hollywood hip-hop piece it beats the pants off Hustle & Flow, Get Rich or Die Tryin' or 8 Mile.

Variety [USA]

press

A rock-solid biopic with a foolproof rise-and-fall storyline and a warmly nuanced performance by Jamal Woolard.

b.i.g.g.i.e

user


b.i.g.g.i.e

who would of thought that a movie like this would come of as a masterpiece it tells a story about one of the best rappers in the world and how he went from nothing to the king.with the support of diddy and faith nd also lil kim he made them what they are today and its a movie that everyone should go watch may you rest in piece forever.BIGGIE

BIG Surprise

user


BIG Surprise

I went along to see this movie with low expectations, as its not my typical genre of music. Really pleasant surprise is that its a film for all people, not just Notorious fans. Watching at Sky City Manukau with the music on the big cinema speakers you cannot help but tap along in your seats to the tunes.

All in all though its an extraordinary and uplifting tale and also great portrayal of the whole EAST COAST WEST COAST differences in the US.

B.I.G

user


B.I.G

i knew biggy. he got me pregnant now he be dead. where my money fool? mmhmmm...slice me a peice of that chocolatew cake and slap it hard against my pikachu. The movies alright but it ain't nothing to the sweet love and sex biggy gave to me.