Disclaimer: I am just a girl straight outta the Hill writing about some boys that are straight outta Compton. But these boys have me singing a different tune when I pass the blue lights.
“Straight Outta Compton” is a captivating and confrontational retelling of the rise and fall of the cutting-edge “gangsta rap” group N.W.A. Rich with street life, power struggles and a fair share of violence and sex, the first half of the biopic is thrilling. However, about halfway in, the richness is watered down with clichés and the technicalities of business deals. The two and half-hour long film is still worth watching, but perhaps from the comfort of your couch—with the ability to pause, stretch and grab a bowl of Lucky Charms.
“Straight Outta Compton” goes beyond just actors playing roles. The cast has scary resemblance to their characters along with intense feeling and believability. The likeness is obviously strongest with O’Shea Jackson Junior, who portrays his father, Ice Cube. Jackson not only looks like his father but also convincingly depicts his aggressive attitude. The rest of the cast, also sharing similarity and excellent performances, include Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E and Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller.
“Straight Outta Compton” does an effective job of integrating the complex history of the musical group, which includes business contracts, royalty disputes and various relationships between members of the hip-hop community, into a digestible and gripping plot.
Beginning on the streets of Compton, Calif. in 1980, the movie shows the truth of street life, which includes drug deals, gang violence and police harassment. These experiences culminate into the lyrics that distinguish the emerging group, N.W.A. The “gangsta rap” group includes Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella.
The biopic spans from 1980 to 1995. The movie documents the formation of Ruthless Records with manager Jerry Heller. Next, it describes the group’s nationwide success along with N.WA.’s many public controversies. Then mid-film, the movie relates the disbanding of N.W.A. The remainder of the film shows the individual endeavors of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E.
Ice Cube and Dr. Dre produced “Straight Outta Compton.” This either means the biopic is true to actual events or it presents the narrative in a biased light. For example, the movie leaves out Dr. Dre’s assault charges and the accusations of N.W.A.’s misogynistic lyrics. Instead, the movie focuses on controversy surrounding the group’s violence and contempt for authority.
As N.W.A.’s lyrics and song title “Fuck Tha Police” suggest, the film deals with police brutality. In several scenes, the police harass the group for simply resembling gangsters. The thread of injustice continues in the movie with the remembrance of the historic Rodney King incident, giving current issues, such as Ferguson, new meaning.
The music is the power force of the film, immersing the audience in each scene. I could not help but tap my and nod my head. Who am I kidding? Some parts of the movie, I was downright making my own music video to the song, mime driving the caddy and all. Bottom line: you will be downloading the “Straight Outta Compton Soundtrack” the next day.
F. Gary Gray, known for “Law Abiding Citizen” and “The Italian Job,” directed “Straight Outta Compton.” He already has a sequel in the works, this time focusing on the careers of Snoop Dogg, TuPac and Suge’s Death Row Records. Most of the cast will be returning for the second go around, but Dr. Dre’s son will play the role of his father.
While a little lengthy, Straight Outta Compton combines a gritty true story with powerful acting and hard music to produce an angry look into the life of the iconic rappers.