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Movie Review: Reincarnated

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Posted March 19, 2013 by Paul Fennessy in 2013
Snoop Lion Reincarnated

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Overview

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Release Date: March 22
 

Pros:

Some fascinating insights into Jamaican culture; a decent amount of good music.
 

Cons:

Snoop doesn't come across favourably; contains too much information that long-term fans will already be well aware of; doesn't have enough of Jamaica in it; not particularly cinematic.
 

A Snoop Dogg documentary that’s essentially a vanity project with some occasional interesting insights into Jamaican culture.

by Paul Fennessy
Full Article

Specialist documentaries are difficult to get right. If you take it the audience knows a considerable amount about the subject, you risk alienating casual viewers. Conversely, if you endeavour to adopt a more accessible approach, hardcore fans will inevitably accuse the filmmaker of oversimplifying the story and pandering to a mainstream audience.

Reincarnated attempts to satisfy both sets of moviegoers, but only partially succeeds.

It’s a documentary that follows Snoop Dogg (or ‘Snoop Lion’ as he now prefers to be called) on a trip to Jamaica, in which he seeks to undergo a musical re-invention by immersing himself in reggae culture. The film, while primarily focusing on this journey, also spends considerable time looking at the rapper’s background.

The latter aspect of Reincarnated is the element that’s most likely to annoy fans. The film’s primary target audience will surely already have a significant familiarity with ’90s hip-hop. Therefore, they’ll know more or less everything there is to know about the details surrounding Tupac’s death, or how Death Row Records dominated the rap music industry for a period. And if they don’t, at least 90% of the information the film provides on this topic is just a Google Search or YouTube click away, rendering the prolonged explanations of these issues a little redundant.

Moreover, the scenes in Jamaica, including Snoop hanging out with Bunny Wailer, visiting impoverished kids at a music school or ‘keepin’ it real’ by befriending ordinary people in the local community always feel a little too contrived, with the cameras following his every move, rather than appearing to be astonishing acts of altruism and evidence that Snoop is still in touch with his roots.

Nevertheless, for the most part, Snoop comes across as more naive than irksome. His constant vague references to his philosophy – which revolves around peace and love – cast him as the George Harrison of rap music, with Jamaica being his India. However, like Harrison, Snoop’s concept seems more than a little indulgent and mostly quite boring to watch after the novelty of seeing him wandering around the jungle smoking spliffs wears off.

To make matters worse, at one point during the film, Snoop discovers that his cousin’s nephew has died, which allows for a convenient emotional arc just as the music-related scenes start to really flag. Consequently, it gives Snoop the opportunity to recall all the people in his life who have passed on and the audience are thus shown extensive footage of the rapper at Nate Dogg’s funeral. While the speech Snoop gives during this sad event is touching, these scenes ultimately have little or no connection to the film’s overall plot and accordingly, come across as quite exploitative.

Furthermore, Reincarnated prompts the viewer to question why it required a theatrical release in the first place. There is nothing particularly cinematic about the way it’s shot and it wouldn’t seem out of place on a mid-afternoon MTV slot.

And ironically, the majority of the film’s virtues occur on the rare occasions when the camera turns its gaze away from Snoop. During the scenes in which the rapper is recording, his producer Diplo makes some interesting and articulate points about music that are in stark contrast with Snoop’s all-too-vague pronunciations on the subject. In addition, though such moments occur far too rarely, we are treated to occasional interesting insights into Jamaican culture, such as when a local explains to Snoop the story of how his village got its name.

So ultimately, the main problem with Reincarnated is that it focuses far too much on Snoop’s tiresome musings, when the true subject of interest – Jamaica – is treated as an afterthought, which doesn’t even merit the full attention of the movie’s 90-minute running time, likely leaving both Snoop enthusiasts and casual viewers unsatisfied as a result.

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About the Author

Paul Fennessy

Paul likes films, books, music and artsy stuff in general. He also likes writing about those subjects, preferably typing at 100 miles an hour while simultaneously slurping coffee and checking his Twitter stream.

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