Friday, August 28, 2015

"Straight Outta Compton" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

'STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON': Four and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Music biopic about the popular 80s/90s hip hop band N.W.A. (an abbreviation for Niggaz wit' Attitude), from Compton, California. The film focuses on rappers Ice Cube, Easy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella. It was directed by F. Gary Gray; who also directed the 90s' comedy classic 'FRIDAY' (which was co-written by and starring Ice Cube). The movie stars O'Shea Jackson, Jr. (Ice Cube's son), Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr. and Paul Giamatti. It was written by Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus; Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Gray were all producers on the film as well. I really enjoyed the movie and found it educational (and inspiring) too.

The movie begins in 1986; when friends Easy-E (Mitchell), Ice Cube (Jackson, Jr.) and Dr. Dre (Hawkins) formed the rap band N.W.A.. MC Ren (Hodge) and DJ Yella (Brown Jr.) later joined the group; although this is not covered in the film (as their parts are not fully developed). Easy-E first bankrolled their project; and formed his own record label, with producer Jerry Heller (Giamatti), called Ruthless Records. After releasing a hit single, 'Boyz-n-the-Hood', and doing a successful show; the band was later picked up by Priority Records. The movie covers their entire rise and fall from fame, as they caused a music (and social) revolution.

I've never been a huge rap or hip hop music fan, and I never followed (or listened) to the group N.W.A., but I did enjoy learning all about them in this film (and I do now like their music). For me the movie was very informative, and I also really liked the style (and look) of the film (thanks to Gray's excellent direction). The performances are decent enough, and the social commentary couldn't be more fitting to the times today; the film largely deals with race relations and police brutality (and it doesn't seem like much has changed, between then and now). The movie's a little long, and slow paced in places, but for the most part it's very entertaining and inspiring; what's more beautiful than watching talented rebel artists change the world?!

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