Notorious (2009) - Collector's Edition - Unrated Director's Cut

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama
Fox || Unrated - 122 minutes - $34.98 || April 21, 2009
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2009-04-29


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Writer(s): Reggie Rock Bythewood & Cheo Hodari Coker (written by)
Cast: Jamal Woolard, Angela Bassett, Derek Luke, Dennis White, Marc Jefferies


Theatrical Release Date: January 16, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Theatrical/Extended Cuts
  • 2 Commentaries
  • 4 Featurettes
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Surround 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

Biggie (Christopher Jordan Wallace) and his friend Damion (Jasper Briggs) are sitting on a bench near the school before it starts talking about being something when they grow up. Damion shows Biggie a magazine featuring some big rapper, and they joke about how they want to make it to the big time someday. Two girls walk by and Biggie asks if they want his autograph, since at some point in the future heís going to be a household name. The girls laugh at him, saying heís too fat (among other things) to make it big and laugh him off. Due to the fact that his family isnít the richest, Biggie embarks on a life filled with drugs, among other things, that change his life forever.

Having dealt what appeared to be crack on the streets since he was young, he grows up into someone that his mother, Voletta (Angela Bassett) never wanted him to be. Having matured and attending high school, Biggie (now played by Jamal Woolard) struggles in school and rarely attends. Heís missed nearly twenty days this semester alone, and smarts off to his teachers every chance he gets. He asks his mom after school one day how much garbage man makes, and she replies about $28,000 a year. The next day at class he solves a math problem correctly and ticks the professor off by saying heís going to be a garbage collector, since they make $4,000 more than teachers do. Heís asked to leave the class, but not before gaining the respect of his classmates. Biggie finds out from his girlfriend at the time that sheís pregnant, and within the year sheíll be having his first child. At first heís stunned and horrified by the news, but eventually warms up to the idea of having a kid.

Biggie returns home from school one day to find his stash of drugs gone; his mother threw it away thinking it was food. Ticked off, Biggie goes off on his mother who in return slaps him and tells him to get the heck out of her house forever. Irate at how heís being treated, he shacks up with a few of his friends, including Damion (Dennis L.A. White), to get more into the drug business he started up as a child. He gets too powerful too fast, and as such, he gets snagged by the police and is sent off to prison.

While in prison his child is born, and it turns out to be a girl. He is sentenced to a rather long term in the slammer, and he returns home to his mother who welcomes him back into her life. Wanting to try and stay out of jail again, Biggie tries to better his life and focus more on his rap career than anything else. His friend Damion and he hook up again, and eventually the two get a meeting with Sean Combs (Derek Luke). Combs is a big time producer who started from the ground up who is now close to owning the company he started off for, and offers Biggie a record deal. He asks Biggie if heís straight (meaning heís out of the drug dealing business) and he replies that heís in it, but would get out of it if the money was right.

Biggie meets another female by the name of Faith (Antonique Smith) who he immediately bonds with from the start. He takes her back to her apartment and the two get it on, and there relationship builds from there. A few days later Biggie gets visited by Combs, who says he was fired from the company and is out of a job for the time being. That means his record contract is now null and void, and until Combs gets some other venues and things going, Biggieís rap career gets put on hold for a little while. He still has faith in Combs though, and he gets some studio time to lay down some tracks and even gets to play on stage. Can Biggie get over his past life of being a criminal, or will it catch up to him and ruin his career yet again?

You should already know the ending if youíve seen anything on the news when that event happened more than a decade ago. It ruined the movie for me, as knowing the ending is the worst part about watching a film (to me, at least). That being said, there are a ton of things that work in this movie, but the bad outweigh the good for me in the big kaleidoscope of things.

The acting is top notch, as Woolard, Luke, White, and the rest of the cast is phenomenal in their roles. The script is a bit hokey at times, and thus, too predictable. The movie also runs for an agonizing two hours, and in my opinion, could have been cut down a good twenty minutes or so to make it easier to sit through. I know that most people will find this an entertaining and a great biography of Biggie Smalls, but it just didnít work for me in the scheme of things.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

DISC 1:
Commentary with George Tillman Jr., Reggie Bythewood, Cheo Coker, and Dirk Westervelt: The better of the two commentaries, as this one carries the entire length of the movie. The three swap information about the film and give out a bunch of insight, such as the cast and the characters they played and how the issues with their backgrounds influenced their performances.

Commentary with Biggieís Mom Violetta Wallace, Co-Manager Wayne Barrow, and Co-Manager Mark Pitts: The three manage to talk more about the characters than the movie itself, so I feel that this commentary is best served if you want to know more of the history of the actual people rather than the movie. The first commentary as noted above is still superior.

DISC 2:
Behind the Scenes (27 minutes): The cast and crew talk about the making of the film, and how the mother of Biggie Smalls came up with the idea for the movie. Itís lengthy, but if you enjoyed the flick then be sure to check this out.

The Lyrics of Biggie Smalls (10 minutes): People who knew Biggie talk about the lyrics in his music and also a bit of personal history of the famed rapper.

Casting the Film (9 minutes): The auditions process is taken a deeper look at, even though part of this is similar to the behind the scenes feature.

Biggie Boot Camp (9 minutes): Not a boot camp per say, as the director describes this process as the cast getting ready to play their respective roles.

Finally, a Digital Copy is available on Disc 3 for those who wish to transfer the film to a portable device.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Due to the video being watermarked, I canít rate the video. When a non-watermarked copy comes in I will update the score accordingly.

The Dolby Surround 5.1 track doesnít do a great job of highlighting this biography, as the levels are consistently off throughout the movie. At times the cast is incredibly high, then the next scene the levels are low which creates an issue for most of the movie. Even the scenes that should sound great, such as the concert performance, sound dull and faded. As bad as Iím making this sound, itís not all that horrible. Surround use is somewhat decent, and although levels arenít the best the dialogue itself is crisp and clear.



.::OVERALL::.

The cast is phenomenal in their roles, but itís just not my type of film. The special features are great for fans of the flick and the audio is decent enough to get by. Notorious is worth a rental if you didnít catch it in its short theatrical run, or a purchase if you enjoyed the movie and think youíll watch it again.