Straight Outta Compton DVD Review

Straight Outta Compton DVD Review
4.0Overall Score

4Straight Outta Compton has proven to be so much more than a film about rap music, but instead has captured a powerful and historic moment in American history that feels as fresh and relevant today as it did in the mid-80s when the story is set. Focusing on the story of a young Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and their manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), Straight Outta Compton pulls out all the stops to document a tale of the rise and fall of NWA. 

But more than this, the film is implicitly interested in black lives in the USA. A bulk of the story takes place around the brutal beating of Rodney King by police officers and how this affects everyone in the group and in a larger sense the community. Gray’s film does an excellent job of illustrating the kind of behaviour that people living in places like Compton had to put up with on a daily basis; police brutality, racism and abuse. This is where NWA’s song, ‘Fuck tha Police’ originates from, having been searched on the street and ridiculed by officers. Scarily, all these years later and not much has changed in terms of police brutality against the black community – it’s just different on the face of it but it was bands like NWA that stood up for what they believed in and said their truth.

That’s not to say that there wasn’t crime also going on behind the scenes and Straight Outta Compton is also very up front and aware of theStraight Outta Compton kinds of things these guys got up to when they thought the cameras weren’t watching; the drugs, the women, the parties and the violence. The film considers all these things and never glamourises the lifestyle but instead stresses where it gets each of these guys. What is interesting to see though is that the film offers a partial explanation of why these things happened and why this community reacted as it did to the music – having put up with the way they were treated by others, turning to crime was a way to stand up for themselves.

Clocking in at around 2 and a half hours, Straight Outta Compton is a provocative film with a lot to say. It could have been very surface but instead it reflects on how each of the group felt throughout the start of their careers. The performances are part of why the film works so well, in particular from Hawkins as Dre – perhaps one of the best known artists in the group today, there was a lot of pressure on Hawkins to portray one of the men who started a music revolution. Often seen throughout as the moral compass of the film, Hawkins is powerful; he is emotional at the right moments, angry at others but seemingly all knowing as well – he knows when he needs to stop working with Eazy-E and Jerry or when things are going wrong with Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor) at Death Row Records. 

la-et-ct-box-office-straight-outta-compton-man-from-uncle-mission-impossible-20150816Straight Outta Compton is an achievement in black cinema, music cinema and cinema in general – on it’s theatrical release it become a somewhat unexpected box office storm both in the USA and UK and deservedly so. It’s a powerful and evocative film, which plays on the emotions and sympathies of the audience with just enough nostalgia for audiences who were fans of NWA in the 80s and early 90s but also doesn’t expect you to know a single thing about the group if you are new to the story.

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