Movie Review: Straight Outta Hollywood: Compton Shows Its Impact
You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.
Witness the street knowledge of Compton is exactly what I did as I watched gangsta rap group N.W.A’s biopic, “Straight Outta Compton” in theaters.
Having been a fan of N.W.A, this was one of my most highly anticipated films of the year. Many times, high expectations are rewarded with with disappointment. However, this gritty, realistic film not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.
Any coherent individual might read this and think I am only applauding the film because of my deep, deep love for N.W.A., specifically Ice Cube.
However, I attended the screening with two friends whose knowledge of N.W.A. is based only off of my occasional rants about gangsta rap. Both friends loved the film and awarded it the title of being, “one of the most gritty and exciting films of the year.”
The biopic details the lives of five youths from Compton, Calif., that go on to form one of the most influential rap groups of all time: N.W.A. DJ Yella, MC Ren, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy E are depicted as realistic and human, while the film follows the sensational rise of the group’s fame as well as what happened after their success.
Having the actual Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as producers helped strengthen the film’s credibility while incorporating legendary director F. Gary Gray (whose filmography includes such works as “Friday” and “The Italian Job”) added a stellar and familiar touch to the film for all lovers of hip hop and its culture to enjoy.
Beautifully shot, “Straight Outta Compton” is a film that will not only make a viewer rap along with the beloved lyrics, but also weep with sorrow as they watch some of the atrocious events that happened during the existence of N.WA.
One of the highlights of the film was the almost impeccable acting that the main five men showcased, specifically the men portraying Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Easy E.
O’Shea Jackson, Jr. was cast as Ice Cube. The latter just so happens to be Jackson’s father. Do not worry, there is no nepotism here. Jackson actually auditioned for a total of two years to earn his role in the most respectful way possible.
As I watched the film, I thought if there was a film about my mother’s life, there would be no better person to play her than me. I felt this concept held true as Jackson depicted his father.
Corey Hawkins played Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell depicted the intense role of Easy E.
What I loved most about the casting was that almost every actor, besides Paul Giamatti, were relatively unknown in the acting scene. It was refreshing to give new and budding talent a chance to be part of such a successful film.
Despite the film being set in the 80s, some of its most powerful messages still hold true today.
While the Rodney King riots and police brutality are truthfully depicted in the film, the themes still permeate in the world today.
A plethora of unarmed African-American men have been killed by police in the just the past few years.
Eric Garner died from an illegal chokehold in July 2014.
The fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 incited riots in Ferguson, Mo.
Freddie Gray’s brutal death in April of 2015 also caused riots in Baltimore, Md.
While the film details events that occurred in the 80s, it concurrently raises the question: How much really has changed over the years?
I only have one caveat with the film and there might not even be any way to appease me on this issue.
In a summer filled with movies that featured realistic, female characters that were treated as humans, such as Riley in “Inside Out” or Amy in “Trainwreck,” “Straight Outta Compton” was noticeably lacking in this department. Of course, there were women portrayed in the film.
However, they were either very minor characters or were simply gangsta rap groupies that idolized the members of the group and fulfilled their every desire. Some of the female characters that had serious relationships with the members had more weight, but it was still mostly about male characters and the women were incredibly secondary.
I get it. The film is a biopic of the five men in the group; no member of N.W.A. was a woman. Still, it was slightly obnoxious to me that it was so male driven, after watching a summer that included movies with realistic female characters that I have been craving since I was old enough to discuss films. After all, “Straight Outta Compton” does focus on the gangsta rap scene, which has been known to degrade women.
With that being said, I was in no way offended by the film. It was most likely an accurate portrayal of what happened during that time and how women were treated.
I would like to say that “Straight Outta Compton” is my favorite film of the year. However, with almost four months left this year, that is an impossible statement to make.
This movie had depth, character and is a film I suggest to anyone with an open mind and an interest in a story with great acting and a powerful message.
“Straight Outta Compton” is rated R, and runs for 2 hrs. and 30 mins.