“Straight Outta Compton” captivates audiences
8 out of 10
By Austin Vicars
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Compton is a suburb outside of Los Angeles that has been a mecca of gang violence and drugs since the 60’s. In a city with such negativity, five men were able to rise above and change the world. Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella formed the rap group called N.W.A. and in 1988 changed hip-hop forever with their album “Straight Outta Compton.” Now 27 years since its inception N.W.A.’s story is being chronicled in the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”
“Straight Outta Compton” features the rise and fall of California rap group N.W.A. Los Angeles native, F. Gary Gray directed film which premiered nationwide on Aug. 14 and grossed $60 million in its first weekend, the most ever by an R-rated movie.
The film portrays the rise to fame of the Compton rappers in their hip-hop group N.W.A. This is not just a movie for hip-hop heads or fans of the group itself. The movie plays out as a gangster film like “Scarface” or “The Godfather.” The film is just as much about drugs, violence and sex as it is about music.
The boys in N.W.A. were raised in the hard streets of Compton, California an area notorious for crime, police brutality and gang violence. While it is unfortunate that N.W.A. had to grow up under such unfortunate circumstances, it creates a captivating movie for viewers. The first hour of the film is dedicated to developing the members of N.W.A. Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.). The acting in this movie is solid, especially by Jason Mitchell and the son of Ice Cube, O’Shea Jackson Jr. From beginning to end the movie places a greater emphasis on Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E’s characters but does a worthy job at bringing the group together.
The movie kicks off the action right away as Eazy-E finds himself in a drug deal gone wrong, that sets a dark mood that plays out across the film. Once N.W.A. is united and rapping the group and audience is introduced to Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti). Heller is a music agent who promises N.W.A. and Eazy-E that he can take them to the next level. In time N.W.A. finds themselves signed and head to the studio to create what became one of hip-hop’s most prevalent records “Straight Outta Compton.” The record brings the young men newfound success and problems. As the movie progresses N.W.A. hits a wall, along with the movie. The film takes a major detour away from N.W.A.’s story to chronicle everyone’s post-N.W.A. careers. Inner turmoil between Ice Cube and manager Jerry Heller causes Cube to leave his friends in pursuit of a solo career. This was the turning point of N.W.A.’s career and the movie.
The film loses the focus and drive that made it so enjoyable to begin with. As Cube and Dre leave the group to pursue solo careers the movie begins to divert from its initial storyline. It jumps between Ice Cube and Dr. Dre’s solo careers and a struggling N.W.A. and starts to drag on. Fans of the rappers may enjoy the extra insight but to casual fans and non-fans may find it unnecessary to sit through. This point in the movie is what holds “Straight Outta Compton” back. If moviegoers could have gotten straight out of “Straight Outta Compton” about twenty minutes faster the film could be truly something special.
The few flaws this movie has are what detour it from being a potential masterpiece. Majority of the movie is fast paced, focused and dramatic. Audience members will leave feeling satisfied and possibly enlightened. “Straight Outta Compton” does an excellent job in detailing one of the most important movements in hip-hop and pop culture and the movie definitely will continue to be a hit straight outta the box office for weeks to come.