Friday, August 28, 2015

Straight Outta Compton - Review

Straight Outta Compton

Directed by F. Gary Gray
Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff
Story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff

Produced by Ice Cube, Tomica Woods-Wright, Matt Alvarez, F. Gary Gray, Scott Bernstein and Dr. Dre

Cinematography by Matthew Libatique

O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube
Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre
Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E
Aldis Hodge as MC Ren
Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yella
Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller
Keith Stanfield as Snoop Dogg
R. Marcus Taylor as Suge Knight

Released: August 14, 2015 (USA)

Summary: Story about the rise and fall of the Compton, California hip hop group N.W.A and borrows its title from the name of N.W.A's 1988 debut studio album.

Review: The first thing I thought about this film was “wow, they got it right!” They managed to include all the pertinent facts about the rap group that I knew and was privy to (through the media) as it happened.

I had all the albums, read all the articles and they managed to include it all–with gritty realism. The movie starts out the gate showing raw, real hood life and continued to do so throughout while depicting all the pivotal moments in the group’s history. If you didn’t know anything about N.W.A. as I’ve read some people say, this film is a good starting point.

From Left to Right: O'Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube), Neil Brown, Jr. (DJ Yella) and Aldis Hodge (M.C. Ren). 

The performances throughout were terrific. I was surprised at how good O'Shea Jackson, Jr., as his real life dad Ice Cube, was. I also really liked Aldis Hodge and Neil Brown, Jr. as MC Ren and as DJ Yella respectfully.

From Left to Right: Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre) and Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E)

The standouts in the cast though were Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E. Both actors were terrific in their roles and really anchored the film. Both actors were pretty much unknown and gave what I think are the pivotal performances of their careers. With these crucial roles you needed really good actors to sell the story and they did.

The director, F. Gary Gray did a terrific job at not only making sure he cast the right actors for these roles, but that the overall tone was realistic. He had to cut down his film from over 3 hours to the eventual 2 hours and 27 minutes, but still retained the essence of the rise and fall of one of most influential rap groups in history. Of course he couldn’t tell everything, but what he did tell was pretty damned good.

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