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Straight Outta Compton (Review and Trailer)

STRAIGHT poster

 

 

 

Review by John Delia

Emotional, disturbing and astounding the film Straight Outta Compton takes its audience on a journey from ghetto to greatness. The biographical film tells all showing how five creative music artists broke away from a life of crime or degradation to a career that allowed them to speak their piece. Told and created by the guys who lived it, the film puts a stamp on the beginning of the rap era that took a stand against social intolerance by raising their voices in the best way they knew how.

The year was 1987 and things were boiling over in the neighborhoods of lower income Los Angeles area. In Compton a suburb of L.A. where people were entrenched in drugs, gangs and other hostile activities, five young men Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) struck back at the system that was adding to what was already a bad scene. Under the name of N.W.A and using Rap music as their tool they stood-up against brutal law enforcement, featured sex and drugs, and urged the repressed to rise up above the dreadful conditions to which they were subjected.

The N.W.A. ready to take the stage

The N.W.A. ready to take the stage

The film however is more than just a dramatic piece on tumultuous Americana. It’s a reminder of the continued decay of human rights in pockets that need attention. While most of the lyrics are degrading in ‘gangsta rap’, buried beneath the words is a calling out for equality. Director F. Gary Gray takes the torrid script and lays it all out for all to see. Holding nothing back, Gray’s film shows the brutal disorder of the times, the rise of Rap as a means of fighting back and the controversy surrounding it all. While rap has many faces, the early beginnings were hardly known to most Americans and through the five brave artists that forged their personal sounds and lyrics, their voices are heard.

Producer ICE CUBE, director producer F. GARY GRAY, producer DR. DRE COREY HAWKINS as Dr. Dre, JASON MITCHELL as Eazy-E and O'SHEA JACKSON JR. as Ice Cube on the set of  Straight Outta Compton

Producer ICE CUBE, director producer F. GARY GRAY, producer DR. DRE COREY HAWKINS as Dr. Dre, JASON MITCHELL as Eazy-E and O’SHEA JACKSON JR. as Ice Cube on the set of Straight Outta Compton

His cast is uncanny resembling each of the actual artists who made up the notorious group N.W.A. Even their accents and facial expressions are portrayed. The stand-out performance is the ensemble cast, but I do want to point out O’Shea Jackson Jr. who nails the role of Ice Cube. He mimics the little nuances we have come to know through Cube’s latter film career and shows the determination of the man who rose up in Compton to express his discontent.

N.W.A. performing on stage

N.W.A. performing on stage

The music and lyrics are the platform on which the movie builds. The soundtrack, for those who are followers of the Rap music genre, touches on most of the outspoken rhetoric of the groups. Over 50 raps are performed or at least touched on in the film including selections by N.W.A., Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, 2Pac, Eminem, Becky Barksdale, The Charmels, Tears For Fears, Zapp, Craig Mack, Snoop Doggy Dog, Parliament, The 2 Live Crew, Grand Funk Railroad and many more. Titles include “Straight Outta Compton” “Gangsta, Gangsta”, “Express Yourself”, the controversial “F_ _ _ Tha Police”, and “8 Ball” performed by N.W.A., “Talking to My Diary” performed by Dr. Dre, and “The Boyz-n-the-Hood” performed by Eazy-E.

Straight Outta Compton has been rated R by the MPAA for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use. Recorded footage of the Rodney King beating and rioting are also shown to emphasize the unrest during the period.

FINAL ANALYSIS: The filmmaking, acting and drama are top notch and candid. (A)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use
Running Time: 2 hrs. 27 min.
Release Date: August 14, 2015
Distributed by: Universal Pictures

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