Thursday, September 28, 2017

Film Review: Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed for Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...a relevant, interesting, compelling, and, most importantly, entertaining biopic."

 The story of gangsta rap group N.W.A.

Straight Outta Compton is a biopic about N.W.A. Specifically, the plot focuses on members Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), with some very minor details on DJ Yella and MC Ren. The plot begins with their separate situations: Dr. Dre is a DJ trying to leave his mom's house and chase his dream, Ice Cube is the poet, Eazy-E is the drug dealer with the cash, MC Ren is Eazy-E's rapping friend, and DJ Yella is Dr. Dre's co-worker. Together, they eventually form the supergroup N.W.A. and, with the assistance of Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), they reach stardom. Of course, what goes up must come down, which means the group eventually splinters, rivalries are formed, and friendships are tested. It leads to an ending that leaves an impression, too.

Straight Outta Compton is a great biopic. As a fan of N.W.A, it was fascinating watching this group's rise and fall, then the rise of their individual careers. You really get to see the behind-the-scenes of the music you've listened to—unless you haven't, obviously. You even get more details, although obviously dramatized, about things you might not have known. And, its themes—or I suppose the themes of N.W.A's music—are still relevant today, so the film is timely. It's all good stuff. It is a massive film, though, especially if you watch the director's cut. Unfortunately, I did feel like some of runtime was poorly used. And, since it covers such a huge story, it can feel disjointed at times. One moment, you're here; the next, you're somewhere completely different, and you hear about shootings and other trouble you never saw. It helps if you're a fan of these artists, but, if you're not, you might be left clueless.

The acting was mostly great. Jason Mitchell fit well in Eric Wright's shoes. Corey Hawkins also delivered a strong performance. O'Shea Jackson Jr. missed a few scenes, but he wasn't horrible; he's the spitting image of his father, too. Paul Giamatti played his devious role well, too. Keith Stanfield, who played Snoop Dogg, however, felt miscast. He had the proper 'swagger' in his step, but he didn't look or sound like him. The film was beautifully shot and the music was great, although the music took a little too much screen time. The screenplay was written by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff while F. Gary Gray served as director. Aside from obviously skipping some significant moments in history and some disjointed storytelling, I think the writers and director did a great job bringing this epic to screen.

Overall, Straight Outta Compton is a relevant, interesting, compelling, and, most importantly, entertaining biopic. It's even suspenseful at times! It has a few issues, such as its occasionally disjointed storytelling and bloated runtime, but it is still a great film. If you're a fan of the group and genre, check it out.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some violence and blood, nudity.

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