Not only is this one of the best musical biopics out there, it might also be the most relevant.
NWA have become one of the most notorious and influential rap groups of all time, so it only makes sense to have their stories told to the public, to see the struggle of being a black rap troupe first hand. And while the film has a few problems, it’s definitely worth your time.
The NWA biopic starts at the rap groups humble beginnings on the streets of Compton and follows them up to the events that transpired in the mid 90’s. The film focuses around three of the five members in particular, Easy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr Dre as they battle for racial justice and freedom of speech.
The first thing that stands out is how amazing each actor is at portraying the group. Ice Cube’s son (O’Shea Jackson Jr) in particular captures his father’s mannerisms so well there are moments in the film you forget your looking at someone playing him.
While the rest of the group aren’t portrayed by family members, each manages to replicate what makes each member stand out in the group. I particularly loved Corey Hawkins ability to capture Dr Dre’s signature scowl perfectly. It’s the little details that help add so much enjoyment to this fast paced musical romp.
What also stood out is the films pacing. Not once did the film ever slow down too much, and rarely did it get ahead of itself (apart from the randomly added in over-the-top car chase). There’s a nice balance of comedy and drama, mixed in with music and violence that keeps the film constantly feeling unpredictable and endearing. It’s the kind of film where you don’t even want to blink in case you miss a reference or sly joke.
But by far the biggest appeal is the music itself; after all they wouldn’t be as big as they are if they didn’t write some of the most renowned rap music of all time. Thankfully the film delivers and has the best concert scenes ever. The film does a remarkable job of capturing the raw energy and power found in a live concert and transferring it to the big screen. Whenever they recorded or played their music to a crowd it sent chills down my spine. Every single time.
There’s one thing I think people will have mixed reactions on, and that’s the overall portrayal of the group themselves.
From the very first shot the film has its own way of idolising the men, but it does it in a unique and questionable way. The film doesn’t lie and say Compton boys were knights in shining armour, even they themselves admit they have regrets from back then, but instead the film shows how much worse everyone else was toward them and, in a way, attempts to justify their actions.
An example can be the police force. These men abuse their power and treat all the young men like garbage, calling them offensive terms and threatening them on a daily basis, every scene with the police is packed so full of tension and hatred you could feel it resonating through the whole cinema.
Of course this is from the young men’s point of view and is dramatised for viewer enjoyment, however this is only one of quite a few things that are altered or changed for the benefit of the NWA (due to spoilers I won’t discuss these issues. Just know that not everything the men did in the film necessarily happened that way.)
There’s plenty more to say about Straight Outta Compton, but talking about it anymore would be doing it a disservice. I implore you to go and see this spectacle of a movie and marvel at how fine crafted it is. For the street riots to the celebrity cameos, everything is so meticulously placed and timed it will leave you stunned just as to how a movie about making music can be so engaging and eye opening.
Straight Outta Compton is going to be one of those films we look back at in years to come and remember just how much our world has changed in such a small amount of time, and how we should appreciate what we have now. It’s an important story that should be shared with everyone and enjoyed by all.