Get On Up DVD Review

DVD Review by Clayton Barnett
Get On Up

The Premise
A chronicle of James Brown's rise from extreme poverty to become one of the most influential musicians in history.
The Review
I’m amazing it has taken this long the story of James Brown to be put to screen after the success of musical biopics like Ray and Walk the Line. The Godfather of Soul has provided the soundtrack to generations and thankfully fellow muso Mick Jagger put his money where his (massive) mouth is and got this movie made.
Smart choice to cast a relative unknown, Chadwick Boseman (Jackie Robinson in 42) is fantastic as James - nailing the slick moves, the swagger and the self-obsession. Nelsan Ellis (best known as Layfette in True Blood) is his perfect foil and provides the emotional heart of the film. There are some powerful scenes between the two and the film would have been better to focus on their formative years together. Once Brown’s first and second wife come flying through things get muddled. Keep an eye out for cameos from musicians Jill Scott and Aloe Blacc too. Actor turned director Tate Taylor hit his second feature out of the ballpark with his adaptation of The Help, but his efforts here seem a little forced. He tries to cover Brown’s whole life in just over two hours, so any emotional attachment or weight just doesn’t have room to breathe. He jumps around in time periods as well which gets pretty confusing but his choice to break the fourth wall is inspired and plays to James narcissistic nature. Thankfully the music makes up for any storytelling issues, with rousing renditions of I Feel Good, Get Up (I feel like being a) Sex Machine, Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World and plenty more iconic tracks I had forgotten. The dance moves are electric and you’d be forgiven if you thought you were watching a man possessed by the spirit of Brown himself.
The Verdict
While it jumps around as much as the man himself, and just overstays its welcome, Get on Up is still superbad flick fueled by a powerhouse lead performance.
The Trailer
The Info
DVD Releases: 11th February 2015
Rating: M - Contains violence, offensive language, drug use & sex scenes
Duration: 139 minutes
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Dan Aykroyd
Director: Tate Taylor (The Help)
The Extras
James Brown learns that the Rolling Stones will close the TV show not him. Ben Bart advises that the band will soon be forgotten. Mick Jagger is Get on Up's producer and executive music producer; the band is still performing after 50 years together.
Ben Bart (Aykroyd) handcuffs the suitcase full of cash to Big Junior's wrist. Part of Aykroyd's Elwood Blues act was to walk on stage with a suitcase handcuffed to his wrist.
Aykroyd and the real James Brown appeared together in The Blues Brothers (1980), Doctor Detroit (1983) and Blues Brothers 2000 (1998).
Aunjanue Ellis appeared with real James Brown in Undercover Brother (2002).