"Straight Outta Compton" Review - Movie Done Right!
It's been a while since we have seen a gangster film with a decent budget, quality acting and lurid subject matter, and not to mention, one done right! SOC does everything right, giving the viewer a fun and provocative movie to end the summer with a bang. Even if you're unfamiliar with N.W.A. you will most likely walk out of the theater satisfied and a have some new insight into the real people the movie was based on.
From the beginning I was intrigued and interested and this movie held that interest all the way through. I grew up listening to rap music including N.W.A, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, etc and this was something I wanted to see in a biopic, not another stale paint-by-numbers rise and fall story. While SOC does have that element it's still different in that it mainly follows three men, intercutting their stories throughout the movie, leaving out a lot of heavy melodrama regarding their struggle to stay alive and as a successful rap group. This movie cuts out a lot of the fluff most biopics use to pad their first thirty minutes.
I need to say how much Oshay Jackson, Jr looks and sounds like his father, it's uncanny. Jason Mitchell, who plays Eazy-E was also good with his mannerisms and intensity that I believed it really was Eazy a couple times. This movie portrays him as the main character that we can relate to or at least sympathize with. The actor who played Dre was good but didn't totally convince me as much as the other two did but that's not to discredit Corey Hawkins' performance because he was good. Still, two out of three ain't bad.
Because this is a biopic there's not much that paints our main characters in a negative light, despite some real life events. I couldn't help to feel the influence of the surviving members and the Wright estate but then again, this is a movie that's not supposed to be a complete downer. There are some instances of violence but this movie is mainly about N.W.A.'s struggle with the police as well as each other to make it big and keep living the dream.
The movie flowed at a smooth pace and didn't get stale which kept me interested. With a two and a half-hour run time, SOC is still struggling to tell the whole story because there's so much that happened and to tell it all would take a while. The music also moved the movie and it was refreshing and a little nostalgic to hear the original N.W.A. music. It was odd to see something that happened in my lifetime brought to the screen as a biopic. I'm getting old.
As for the non-N.W.A music, if you were alive to remember it, it gives us a clue as to what year it might be. I have always liked F. Gary Gray and he doesn't disappoint with camera angles, movement and editing all done very well. He even throws in a Friday reference (or two if you're on the ball)!
That's not to say there weren't some minor issues that prevented me from enjoying certain aspects. Mad Max: Fury Road was a movie that, to me, didn't feel like it had many problems in the story, story-telling method or acting – which are some things that are crucial to having a good cinematic experience. That's why Mad Max was so damn refreshing of a movie and why SOC is close behind, despite some problems with the casting/acting. Some critics of the movie talk about the performances in a negative light and I felt there weren't many issues with the main three, however I did have issue with a couple actors. Spoilers:
The actor who played Suge Knight didn't feel intense enough and I think by that I mean he smiled way too much. This is a man who you don't want against you and the actor just didn't feel threatening enough. Knight has a certain intimidation about him in his everyday facial expressions and this guy didn't have it; it was almost comical. Another problem was the actor who played Snoop Doggy Dogg and it wasn't his performance, it was that he bared no resemblance to the real man. None at all. I know resembling the original actor isn't always necessary but it didn't sit well with me but fear not, fellow Nerdbots, he's barely in the movie at all.
Raw, entertaining, thought-provoking and nostalgic, Straight Outta Compton hits all the right beats. It does the thing that I like about biopics which is that it tells the base of the story and it's up to the viewer if they want to learn more about the real people. I could talk about this movie all day and I'm still thinking about it. I saw this movie with a friend who beat me to it when he said that every time one of those songs hit he got goosebumps; it was nice to hear those songs, sung by N.W.A. themselves and. Straight Outta Compton is very intriguing and I was immediately hooked into the story and characters. There's a reason this made $56 million over the weekend. You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge. Highly recommended.
I give it an 8.5
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