Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Straight Outta Compton
Releases August 14, 2015
2 hrs 30 mins
Rated R


Director: F. Gary Gray
Writers: Jonathan Herman, Alan Wenkus, S. Leigh Savidge, Andrea Berloff

Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E
Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre
O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube
Aldis Hodge as MC Ren
Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yella
Brandon LaFourche as Arabian Prince
Marlon Yates Jr. as The D.O.C.
Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller
Corey Reynolds as Alonzo Williams
Alexandra Shipp as Kimberly Woodruff
Angela Elayne Gibbs as Doris Jackson
Bruce Beatty as Hosie Jackson
Lisa Renee Pitts as Verna Young
Keith Stanfield as Snoop Dogg
R. Marcus Taylor as Suge Knight
Sheldon A. Smith as Warren G
Carra Patterson as Tomica Woods
Elena Goode as Nicole Threatt
Keith Powers as Tyree Crayon
Mark Sherman as Jimmy Iovine
Camryn Howard as DJ Speed
Cleavon McClendon as Sir Jinx
Rogelio Douglas, Jr. as Chuck D
Steve Turner as Keith Shocklee
Tyron Woodley as T-Bone
LaDell Preston as Shorty
Jordan Can as J-Dee
J. Kristopher as Lay Law
Stephanie Campbell as Charis Henry
Marcc Rose as Tupac Shakur

Review by Stephen M.

While the gangster rap group in their heyday was a little bit before my time, I am familiar with the general stories.  The squabbles particularly over money, and of their manager stealing from them.  Watching some of these stories come alive on the big screen is entertaining, however the one-sided story telling of the surviving members (Dr. Dre and Ice Cube) and detachment of characters leaves you wanting more from the movie.

The movie is not without its brilliant performances, which includes O'Shea Jackson, Jr. playing as his father Ice Cube.  The other character that hits it home for me is the main focus of the movie in my opinion and that is Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E.  The two character's interaction with each other and those around them, raises the level of the film to what you would imagine a NWA concert would be like, noisy and fun.  

As good as Jason Mitchell and O'Shea Jackson's performances were, the flip side is underwhelming if not forgettable performances by Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller.  Despite a death in the family for Dr Dre, a scene that is supposed to move you, does little when the character development or subject matter is lacking.  With Paul Giamatti's performance, there is such a thing as too much make up, making Jerry look scarier and sick than anything else.

I would recommend the film if you are a fan of rap biopics and especially if you are a fan of the rap group N.W.A..  Due to the sex and drugs, though not prominent in the movie is still prevalent and as such the movie is not recommended for kids.  All of their greatest hits including the back and forth diss tracks are played prominently along with new songs making it a soundtrack to own.  The social impact of the group's songs is pushed throughout, sugar coats some of the seedier side of their history making it an uneven though still entertaining story.

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