Film Review: “Straight Outta Compton” by Blade Brown
Plot: The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California in the mid 1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.
NWA is without a doubt one of the most influential groups in entertainment history. Their debut album, “Straight Outta Compton” remains one of the most controversial rap albums ever made. But also, it remains one of the most praised albums. Director F. Gary Gray (Friday, The Italian Job) assembles a talented young cast to bring the story of the “Niggaz Wit Attitudes” to the big screen.
The movie starts off with us meeting the founding members of the groups at different places in their lives. Eric (Eazy E) is a drug dealer who is looking for something better. Andre (Dr. Dre) is a DJ at a local club, who produces on the side. But is also looking for more as he has a newborn child to take care of. O’Shea (Ice Cube) is a high school kid who is surrounding by gang life and harassed by the police daily. One night, Dre lets Cube perform at the club he DJ’s at and the crowd loves him. Eazy, who is amongst the crowd has a conversation with Dre about putting some money into making music and forming a group. After some time, he convinces Eazy to start his own label, Ruthless Records. After having some conflict with a group that Cube had Ghost written for, his friends convince Easy to record the song himself. The song, “Boyz-N-The-Hood” becomes a huge hit and before you know it, music manager Jerry Heller convinces Eazy to let him manage the group, now calling themselves NWA, and soon he secures a record deal for them through Priority Records.
Midway through recording their debut album, the crew is harassed by the police in front of their recording studio because of the way they look. This run in inspires Cube to write a song called “Fuck The Police”, which would lead to the group be the target of the FBI for terroristic threats against law enforcement. As the group gets bigger, friction begins to grow leading to members leaving, turning brothers into rivals.
As mentioned, the cast is talented. They all embody their characters almost perfectly. Specifically O’Shea Jackson Jr, the real life son of Ice Cube who’s tasked with playing his father. A spitting image of his father, he portrays Cube almost exactly how we remember seeing him in the 90s. Veteran actor Paul Giamatti is perfect as Jerry Heller. But it’s Jason Mitchell’s performance of Eazy E that steals the show. From the swagger of a hood rich dope dealer, to an HIV stricken patient, he hits all the right notes with his performance, leaving the crowd I saw the film with choked up with his final scenes in the hospital. When the film ends, we’re left with clips of artist like The Game and Kendrick Lamar stating what NWA meant to them and how they inspired them. Also shows the longevity and success that Cube and Dre have had post NWA.
All in all, this was a very good movie. At almost two and a half hours, the movie may be a bit long for some people. But there is so much history with this group, they probably could’ve made a three-hour movie. Even at its length, there is still a few key moments that were left untouched in the movie. So one can only hope for a director’s cut in the future.
Straight Outta Compton is as raw as the album it’s named after. Fans of the group will love this movie, and the film may earn the group fans from a whole new generation. This is a movie that’s definitely as good as advertised.
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