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Straight Outta Compton – Review


Release Date: 14 August 2015 [USA]
Director: F. Gary Gray
Writer: Jonathan Herman - Andrea Berloff [Screenplay] - S. Leigh Savidge - Alan Wenkus - Andrea Berloff [Story]
Cast: O'Shea Jackson Jr - Corey Hawkins - Jason Mitchell - Neil Brown Jr - Aldis Hodge



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Posted August 24, 2015 by

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Straight Outta Compton Review:

The nostalgia train is rollin’ in Hollywood, and though most of it makes this atheist want to pray for an end to this era of film and its nightmarish obsession with the past, there’s also the rare occurrence of something interesting. In this case we’re treated to STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, a biopic of Niggas With Attitude (NWA), a late 80s/ early 90s rap group which brought the sounds of the streets to the radio in a way few had ever heard at the time. From this period in music history, we got hit-makers such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube, who most millennials will recognize from a host of mediocre comedies.

A quick side note: I’m not sure if a bus being stopped by a gangsta with a gun really happens a lot, but both DOPE (2015), which focuses on modern-day kids who love 90s hip hop culture, and Straight Outta Compton, a movie about early 90s hip hop culture, include scenes in which a bus is held up by a guy with a gun. There’s no protest from either bus driver in either film. I rode the public bus a lot in the early 90s and not once did this happen.

It was interesting for me to watch Straight Outta Compton having also been growing up during the time. I was a Cuban-American teenager who was deep into the message and music being released during this era. I remember scenes as I watched them reported on television or, back then, MTV which actually covered music and had a lot less shows about impossibly pretty werewolves. A part of me kept wanting Straight Outta Compton to simply be a documentary. I saw it televised and dramatized, in a way, through the filter of media, so the film played to me as having this extra and unnecessary layer of dramatization. As I was reminded of moments in the group’s history, like when they famously ignored a police order to censor their own lyrics at a concert, I craved hearing what the group’s living members had to say about it. While it was entertaining to watch the scene unfold, a deeper part of me wanted to hear more about the reality of that day from the people who were at the exact center of it.

There is no denying this is a movie meant for mass appeal, and Straight Outta Compton is well-directed by F. Gary Gray (FRIDAY, THE NEGOTIATOR, LAW ABIDING CITIZEN) and acted all throughout. Most of the actors portray their real-life counterpart with an eerie similarity in a lot of ways. Jason Mitchell as EAZY-E, one of NWA’s founding members, is spot-on and earns the added benefit of having the most dramatic work to do. Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr., plays his own father, and though that grants him some advantages over other actors like physical similarities, Jackson is fun to watch capturing his father’s gangsta style. My only exception is Keith Stanfield as Snoop Doggy Dogg, but I don’t fault the actor, how can any actor be asked to play The Dogfather or the Lion King or whatever he’s calling himself now?

Don’t get me wrong. Straight Outta Compton is undoubtedly a solidly made biopic which handles a host of characters and a tumultuous time in music history with precision. Not a minute of movie is wasted. Everything about it, as a movie, from the writing, to directing, and acting, are all very well-done. The music is absolutely fantastic too. In short, I recommend it. I just wanted to see one of the world’s most brutality honest musical groups explored in a much more authentic way and less watered-down to be part of the sanitized mainstream they often railed against.


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Ruben R. Diaz
Freelance Contributor

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One Comment

    Chaka D.

    Thanx Ruben, I’ll definitely check it out now, even though I was going to before, but if it survived your review I have to see it sooner.

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