Straight Outta Compton Review

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Vibe-filled and powerful are some of the feelings I get when thinking about the film, yet underwhelmed seems to be the word that comes up whenever I think about the way the film left me feeling. Managing to portray the insanity that was N.W.A on the big-screen, Straight Outta Compton does present us with some amazing performances, incredible music and good scenes, but because of its excruciatingly long-feeling runtime and elements that clashed alongside each other, Straight Outta Compton loses that legendary status the subjects its based on have. F. Gary Gray, director of such films as Friday, Law Abiding Citizen and the upcoming Fast & Furious sequel really impressed me with some of the things he did in this film, the first being how he was able to interweaving of our main characters feel so natural as the film’s set-up, everything just clicks together and when they burst out onto the music scene the film reaches its peak. During that initial tour the film flows perfectly as it tracks the misadventures that would occur offstage and the insanity that would be engraved in people’s mind, such as the Detroit concert which is done beautifully. Also, the slow break-up of Ice Cube and the rest of the group’s members whilst on tour is handled well and then just escalates to a whole new level once he begins rapping his own material after deciding to go solo. That’s is something that really surprised me about Straight Outta Compton is how good O’Shea Jackson Jr. portrayed O’Shea Jackson (Ice Cube[his dad]), being initially struck wrong by the idea of getting Jackson for the role instead of any actor out there today I was proved because Jackson Jr. blows it out of the park as Ice Cube. The same can be said of all the actors participating in the film who all delivered terrific performances, from Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre to Jason Mitchell as the sickly Eazy-E, Paul Giamatti in his other bad-music-manager role of the year and all those sprinkled cameos of Shakur and Snoop Dogg with people doing exceptional impressions of them. So the performances were good and the directing impressed my at points, what are my problems with this film? That can easily be answered with how sugar-coated some of this film’s elements were, product of having Ice Cube and Dr. Dre as producers and how jarring some scenes felt next to each other, with the additional this film is two hours and a half and it feels that long. In regards with the jarring scenes, my prime example of this is a scene in which N.W.A is celebrating as a unit, chanting, dancing, being silly, etc. and then random tonal shift to being brutalized by the police, I know it represents how these individuals were randomly subjected to police abuse for not doing anything but it just felt off after seeing all the celebration that was going on in the previous scene and how its meaning is now overshadowed by police brutality. More than anything its trying to represent too much  and that is an extremely hard process when adapting anything, especially a biopic on such chaotically important group, I felt like this film needed just a bit more editing or cutting to reach the perfect biopic status, it was close, but it didn’t make it. With powerful performances, an incredible soundtrack and present vibe resonating throughout it, yet hindered by its really good directing at times that simply seemed to deflate the not-so-well directed section, to many themes and ideas that really didn’t feel right or like they corresponded together, and a grand dose of sugar sprinkled on it, Straight Outta Compton proves an interesting biopic with good moments that just doesn’t sustain enough strength to be recognized as a good cohesive unit of a film, landing it a 65 out of 100.

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