Straight Outta Compton movie review
My Summary: A group of friends from Compton decide to collaborate together with one who produced most of the music (Dr. Dre), one who was a poet (Ice Cube), one who came out of drug dealing (Easy E) and a few others that didn't get much recognition in the film. A manager named Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) takes them under his wing and they embark on a rapping career that is full of racism, love, betrayal, lust, retaliation, redemption, aids, and many other struggles and problems.
The Good: The cast is perfectly spot on with the physical resemblance, personality, movements, and performance. You honestly feel like you're watching the younger versions of the N.W.A all throughout the film and it is awesome. All the leads gave star-making performance here but the one that looked to me stole the show was Easy-E. This guy not only captured the resemblance of the original but his ability to go from silly, to crazy, to maniacal, to sympathetic was so subtle you feel you could have easily seen him as a guy who could influence all these members. He runs the show for the first third of the film and I feared since he was the only one who wasn't involved in the filmmaking of the movie that he would have the least respectful representation among the others who in real life contributed to making the film. While that is sort of true, as I continued watching the film I think they supply just enough flaws in the other guys as well and gave him a respectful amount of successes in the film. I just felt I was watching the real Easy E the whole way through from beginning to end with utter amusement. He is so entertaining to watch whether it be funny, energetic, depressing, or action packed. Everything he did felt genuine and real without going over the top. When he is interacting with the members he steals the show with his utter confidence and relatability. Some of the other actors in the beginning seemed off and a little awkward at times but as the film got going they quickly evolved until they were perfectly molded into the larger than life characters they were playing. Now I knew next to nothing about this group so I was taken back when I saw that the guy who's first movie I saw him in was Are We There Yet was basically the face of the most dangerous rap group in history I was shocked. The actor playing him is Ice Cube's son who obviously looks and sounds just like him. What I also liked about the film is how they sliced the screen times between each artist with the first third going to Easy-E and how he got the band signed with Jerry Heller. The middle third which I found just as good as the first being about Ice Cube's departure from N.W.A after being screwed over financially by Jerry Heller and then started a feud with the remaining band members while he went solo. The last third along with Easy-E contracting aids (SPOILER ALERT) involved mostly Dr. Dre and his relationship with Suge Knight and producing for new artist like Tupac then leaving Death Row Records to start Aftermath. Ice Cube's character just kills it in the middle of the film with him being the first to realize that the band is being screwed over by their manager. His aggressive attitude and no-hold-bars performance is mesmerizing as he becomes a one man show. Who would have thought arguably the most talented guy in a group that performed a song endorsing standing up to the police would make a movie where he drives a care with a talking bobble-head and tries to watch over two kids from hell just to impress a girl? I don't know but honestly I'm glad this movie showed the real side of Ice Cube. A man with talent who found a voice that he refused to silence even when half of America wanted him dead. Something to also mention is that the film has many performances of the songs the group were known for which is nice to hear in the film. However, what I liked is that the songs weren't the main star of the story rather the lives of these people were. It was about the struggle they went through with the city, the cops, their manager, and with each other that was the focus which is what it should be. It was about the brutal honest truths that would not be kept a secret like how many do out of fear. This is not to say all police officers are corrupt but when it does happen it needs to be acknowledged. When I saw the trailer and reviews for Selma many people were saying it might have been motivated by Ferguson which seriously disturbed me. MLK Jr. would never have approved or got behind the violence induced in Ferguson or even the riots after Rodney King for that matter because he was a man who was much wiser and better than that. He would never cause destruction or encourage riots rather he would do the opposite and fight back without violence. Selma was not the film I thought that should be strong inspiration for Ferguson people. This was the film that I thought would speak to those people not just because it involves police brutality but it is much more relatable to the minds of the people on Ferguson. This is the kind of movie for those people not Selma. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with Ferguson (I know little about it) but I do believe this is the kind of film that one should feel relates to their feelings about Ferguson than Selma. You feel the attitude in the film which is obviously one sided but then again if you're not seeing much balance on the other side then you need one like this. I'm also glad to see a movie about these people that is done with delicacy and not just because they can make money off it. Snoop Dogg tried it with Mac and Devon which was so embarrassing I couldn't stand it. 50 Cent tried one in Get rich or die trying but it was mediocre. This one actually humanizes these guys, has a political point to it, while also retaining the entertaining rapping persona without making it overbearing. F. Gary Gray's direction is smooth and sensitive as to show both the flaws and successes in each of the main stars. He helps move the story along a long rode full of many obstacles that can be a lot to jam into one movie. This can be tricky since then you might spend too much time on making the main character spectacular you don't give enough attention to the people around that person as a result the film loses it's strength as a whole (ah-hem American Sniper). The opening is badass with Easy E working a drug deal or talking to drug dealers then being ambushed by the S.W.A.T team I think and escaping. It was exciting and set the mood for the rest of the film. I found the film as a whole to be a strong representation of this group whose members now basically run the industry we live in.
The Bad: I'm just going to say what everyone has complained about with this film and that is the misogyny, homophobia, and glorification of people who have done some terrible things that didn't make it into the film. Yes first of all there is not a shred of dignity for any women in the film and honestly not much women in here at all. They are mostly just groupies, wives, and random hot girls. This is all the more frustrating when reports have been made of certain women who were instrumental to the group during their success. Yes it is unfortunate that women aren't usually positively represented or represented at all when it comes to movies about rapping or rappers such as Notorious, 8 Mile, Mac and Devon, and so on. Also Jerry Heller is not present in the movie as much as I thought he would be. I thought he would have stole the show considering the powerful acting ability of the actor but he didn't for better or worse. It is official that trailers these days absolutely suck! Again half the scenes in the trailers are not in the film such as Easy E bringing an AK-47 (I think that's what it was) on a bus that Heller freaks out over, Dr. Dre talking to his wife in jail telling her things will change, Heller saying "You have a unique voice the world needs to hear it", and Ice Cube saying "You know that's all I do". Honestly in the trailer when Easy E sings the verse "Cruisin' down the street-" in the movie he doesn't sound that good in the scene as in the trailer. Another problem I have is throughout the film the group has problems mainly with the police causing them trouble because they are scared of them but they also have problems with the media. In the trailer they are at a press conference where Ice Cube is questioned that they glamorize gangs and drugs and he responds that their art is a reflection of their reality. This is the only scene where they encounter a problem with the press and that bugs me. They must have gotten a hell of a lot more slack from the media than that. I mean Eminem got a billion times more slack than that within a year and this group was the first to endorse standing up to the cops. I'm guessing it was more because of the time length of the film that they had to keep it short but I wanted to see them defend their music more to the media. Also I am not naive and I know just from a little research that the film omitted a lot more faults that the group did especially in the case of Dr. Dre who committed so many acts he was forced to make a public statement two days ago apologizing to all the people for all the women he's hurt back in his youth. Also the film kind of allowed Easy E to have more flaws than any of the other guys in the group maybe because he's the only one who's dead and not involved with the film.
There are definitely problems with it but overall this movie has a lot more to say than most that come out these days. It has more to say than just glorify the group that taught you to not always trust the police. The performances are top notch and their vocal abilities are just as high. This film is definitely one to recommend to all the Ferguson people because it will resonate with them. It might be a little long for some but I'm sure most will not worry about the time once it starts. I would recommend this movie as solid entertainment and intrigue into a group that had many highs and lows.