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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
    English, French, German, Hebrew, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Hindi, Commentary - German, Commentary - French, Commentary - Dutch
  • 3 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • 6 Filmographies

Poetic Justice

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 105 mins . MA15+ . PAL


The title of this film is cool until you see how it’s applied within the film. I’ve always liked the ‘poetic justice’ angle in life; it works well to punish the guilty that might otherwise get away with their crime (whatever it may be). If it happens to a good person for no reason though, it’s just called ‘irony’.

Anyway, it’s a nice title. Until you get into the film and see that it’s called after a girl named ‘Justice’ who writes poetry. Now it just sounds weak. And, what’s more, there isn’t any poetic justice in the film anyway, which might have saved the title with a double meaning to the words, but no. Oh well.

Justice is played by Janet Jackson, a poetic hairdresser who uses her rather melancholy poems (written by the amazing Maya Angelou) to entertain her friends. Tupac Shakur plays Lucky, a postal worker who is a friend to Chicago, another postal worker who’s dating Justice’s best friend. When Chicago needs to travel upstate to deliver mail, he brings his girlfriend and asks her to grab a friend for Lucky. Having met briefly before, Lucky and Justice don’t get along and the trip becomes an exploration of each other as this road trip film moves along.

"Do I look like a slot machine?"

This is a bit of a weak follow up to John Singleton’s awesome Boyz ‘n the Hood and while an interesting romance, it isn’t entirely convincing. The chemistry between Jackson and Shakur isn’t exactly blistering and their romance flowering after weeks of dislike on one single afternoon is a little bit hard to swallow. However, Shakur delivers a pretty good performance while Jackson, try as she might, doesn’t quite manage the same. Her character is rather two-dimensional with her poetry the only real insight into her inner-workings and here there is the misery of the streets and the projects. Maybe it isn’t Ms. Jackson’s fault, this being her debut (and only) film to date (if you discount appearances with Justin Timberlake). Perhaps more to blame is Singleton for the rather thin premise of Justice witnessing her boyfriend’s murder and so being hesitant about relationships prior to the road trip with Lucky.

Maya Angelou’s poetry brings some desperately needed style to the film, but this shines much brighter than the rather flaccid storyline and is way beyond the film’s league. It’s an entertaining enough film with some misadventures along the way, but why is it writers always seem to think one particular moment is the right time for many characters to reach their personal crossroads? I’ve been on plenty of road trips in which nothing (and I mean nothing) happens. No inward revelations, no exasperating company I end up falling in love with and no perfect moment to deliver the news to my best friend that she’s most likely an alcoholic. Even if it did, surely somewhere other than the road would be a better time to drop this on her? Oh well.


Practically an artefact-free presentation here, which is good for a 1993 film. But then, it comes from the masters down at the Sony DVD Center so what else should we expect? The picture is pretty clear and there are only the rarest moments of aliasing. Colour is good and blacks are natural, while flesh tones are all even and fine. We are delivered the picture in the cinema aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with anamorphic enhancement for you widescreeners out there.


Only Dolby Digital stereo, but it’s a good mix with evenly balanced levels throughout. Dialogue is clear and mixes in some hip slang of the streets that was popular at the time. However, I haven’t heard anyone call someone ‘fly’ in quite some time…

Sound effects are fine, though the subwoofer only gets busy with the dominant soundtrack of hip-hop and rap tracks. Stanley Clarke’s score is very ’80s sounding with breathy saxophone impregnating the film in its more ‘emotional’ or ‘romantic’ moments. Eurgh. The soundtrack is much cooler, featuring some very groovy music of the period from the likes of Coolio, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Warren G, Stevie Wonder, TLC, Naughty By Nature, Chaka Demus and Pliers and, of course, Janet Jackson squeezes in a song (though not performed live).


An audio commentary by John Singleton is the usual ordinary affair when a one-man band performs. Some interesting moments, but many pauses to enjoy his work of art…

Six filmographies of the main cast also includes Maya Angelou and John Singleton. The others are Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, Regina King and Joe Torry (mispelled on the filmog page).

Finally three trailers for Poetic Justice, Baby Boy and The Brothers.

At least they tried.


For anyone unfamiliar with the Hollywood tome of ‘An Alan Smithee Film’ herein we get to see one. As legend has it, an Alan Smithee film is one that labours under continued creative differences and various directors come and go leaving no one director responsible for the film. So they attach this fictional character to the film. Apparently. Anyone with more information about that, or to correct me, please feel free to write me here at DVDnet. Anyway, the opening film at the drive-in is entitled Deadly Diva, an Alan Smithee Film. (It’s also flimsy but stars Billy Zane and Lori Petty hamming it up).

The film is worth a look for fans of Tupac or even Ms. Jackson, but overall it’s a rather trite romance with little by way of character development and not a lot of story depth. The poetry of Maya Angelou is definitely a highlight and is even well read by Ms. Jackson, but this isn’t really enough to save the film from ordinariness.

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      And I quote...
    "It’s not about irony at all… "
    - Jules Faber
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