Kyle J. Steenblik

Straight Outta Compton is Engaging, Energetic, and Excellent

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4 stars out of 5

straight outta compton advance screening

 

Straight Outta Compton
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Screenplay by: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff
Story by: S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Berloff
Starring: O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown, Jr., Paul Giamatti
Running time 146 minutes
Rated R because it is about N.W.A and for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use

In 1988 four friends Andre Romelle Young A.K.A Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), O’Shea Jackson A.K.A Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), Eric Lynn Wright A.K.A Eazy E (Jason Mitchell), Lorenzo Jerald Patterson A.K.A MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), and Antoine Carraby A.K.A DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) exploded out of the streets of Compton CA as rap group N.W.A. Revolutionizing the music industry with explicit and expressive hardcore rhymes reflecting the reality of the streets upon which they grew up. Straight Outta Compton chronicles the history of this group, their friendship, the breakup and feuds, and their impact on history.


Straight Outta Compton is about more than five friends and the music they created, it is about the massive impact they left on the world and music industry. As such, it is very likely to have a substantial impact on the audience, especially those that are not familiar with this story. Even those that are familiar, and are fans will walk away with a better understanding of the gravity of these events, for the non-fans, I suspect a number may become converts. The judiciously cast actors captured the essence of the real-life performers they were representing with dynamic enthusiasm that kept me fully engaged through the entire film. Specifically calling out O’Shea Jackson, Jr. who portrayed his father with an eerie accuracy was by far my personal favorite, but then I have always been in the Ice Cube fan camp so it was not a difficult leap from father to son for me.

F. Gary Gray handled the music, which is an integral aspect of this film, perfectly. The cast recorded every song in the film, and the cast recordings were then use in the film with the original artist recordings; it was nearly indistinguishable which we were hearing which added to the sense that what we were seeing was as true to life as possible. While it is understood that the events on screen were sometimes altered to condense the story, or add entertainment value, it still appears that the editorial integrity of the film was intact. There was the penchant for the dramatic, which individuals like Ice Cube and Eazy-E were known for, given that this is entertainment not a journalistic documentary I found the dramatic flair pleasing, while keeping in mind there were events that were significantly less dramatic in the film than they were in reality. I did not get the feeling that anyone was treated unfairly, or anyone was made to look better than they really were. This is something that is always problematic in biopic films, the decision to omit some facts that may show someone in a harsh light is not one that should be taken lightly, and can sometimes be quite obvious and distracting. I didn’t get that feel with this film, which is not to say it didn’t happen, just that if it did, it was not overtly obvious. There was the penchant for the dramatic, which individuals like Ice Cube and Eazy-E were known for, given that this is entertainment not a journalistic documentary I found the dramatic flair pleasing, while keeping in mind there were events that were significantly less dramatic in the film than they were in reality.

This was really a great film that shed light in a place many of us had not thought to look, and provided much needed perspective to aspects of our society many of us have had trouble understanding. It does this while effectively entertaining the audience with well-paced action and tonally appropriate humor. That is not to mention the electrifying music, which all together gives this film a life of its own, making this a very worthwhile use of your attention.

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