Rap group N.W.A. rises from the streets of Compton and takes over the music industry by storm. While the group becomes popular, the members also embark on various solo careers to various success.
Director: F. Gary Gray
Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr. Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence, and drug use
Fun Fact: The movie was not screened in Compton due to the city not having a cinema.
My series on biopics continues with Straight Outta Compton, which shows us how the famous rap group N.W.A. was formed and how much of a success it was as well. The group came out during a time when society was changing, and voices were being made through art. I saw this movie in theaters back in 2015 twice and it had been awhile since I’ve watched it. With me trying to review all the movies that I own, and watching biopics, this was an obvious choice.
Like most musical biopics I’ve seen this one is fantastic. The music, the direction, the acting, all of it works perfectly. F. Gary Gray captures some intense and emotional scenes that will leave the viewer with awe. This is a very real movie and while it has some of its lighthearted moments it hits you with raw emotion. These people were just kids at that point, and little did they know what was going to happen. The scenes with the police in the beginning are heartbreaking to say the least because some of the characters are not doing anything wrong. They’re just at the wrong place at the wrong time and Gray captures that emotion through some great acting. Having Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E’s widow as producers helped big time as they shared their stories through this film. My only gripe is you know who is featured the most because of the producer credit. While DJ Yella and MC Ren were consultants on the film, they are not featured as much. That’s probably because their careers didn’t take off as much as the others did. It would’ve been nice to see what they were both up to after N.W.A. especially if the first cut was over three and a half hours long with an almost three-hour director’s cut.
The choice of actors was the right one as the cast brings their A-game to the screen. O’Shea Jackson Jr. has huge shoes to fill playing his father Ice Cube. Jackson Jr. has a strong resemblance to his father and during the movie I believed it really was Ice Cube on screen. Jackson Jr. pulls it off and I bet it was an honor for him to play his father and honor his journey. Corey Hawkins who plays Dr. Dre also has big shoes to fill and he more than pulls it off. He has a lot of powerhouse and emotional scenes and he does a great job showing the right emotion at the right time. Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E was just as good as the other two. Mitchell looks the part and sounds like him as well. My other praise goes to Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, who was N.W.A.’s manager. Giamatti just like the whole cast brings an emotional and well driven performance. F. Gary Gray does a fine job directing his actors and got the exact performances that we needed to see.
Every musical feature needs to have two key ingredients to survive. You need great music and well directed performances. The concert scenes make you feel like your there and they’re well performed by the actors. It was like seeing N.W.A. on stage doing what they did best, and that was performing for the crowd. I’m a fan of certain rap music and the 90’s era of rap is my favorite. The group’s music is legendary in that time period and I caught myself nodding my head to it. Even if you’re not a fan of the music, I think you will enjoy the performance scenes due to the high energy and the direction of those scenes. Even the film’s score brings the right emotions when it was needed.
Overall, Straight Outta Compton is one of the better musical biopics that has been produced. The film has great direction from F. Gary Gray and great performances from the cast. The performance scenes are high energy and it feels like watching the group on stage. It’s a shame that the film didn’t get more recognition then what it got. My only gripe is that some important people are not featured as much as others. Those two people were also an important part of the group’s legacy and it should’ve honored their legacy just as much. The film should be viewed because it’s relatable in a way. A lot that happened in that time era is happening today and you can see the similarities in both. While there was so much more that happened to the people involved with the film, what we got is a must see.