Director: F. Gary Gray Cast: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
Straight Outta Compton is the official biopic of legendary hip-hop group N.W.A, named after their ground-breaking debut album. The story begins with the group forming, laying down their early tracks, and finding management, up until the untimely death of founding member Eric “Eazy-E” Wright (Mitchell).
I absolutely loved this movie. Firstly, it’s worth noting that I am an N.W.A fan and already knew a fair amount about their back story, so I probably got more out of the film than, say, someone who didn’t know a lot of their music and was just interested in the story. What I appreciated most in the film was the casting: each group member as well as other supporting characters fitted their role perfectly, and the all-important chemistry between the group was spot on and significantly contributed to the believability of the band’s experiences. I really got a sense of who each member was and what kind of role they played in the group, both as musicians and as friends. Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr, played Ice Cube himself, and at certain points it was hard to notice the difference between the two. You can see how choosing the real life son to play the father might be gimmicky, but Jackson Jr was excellent in his debut acting role. I also thought that the story was pretty well balanced- given that both Ice Cube and Dr Dre had a hand in producing the film, there was a risk of a biased point of view, but in fact nobody came out looking perfect nor did anybody come out looking all bad.
Like I mentioned, I think fans of N.W.A will get more out of the film but that’s not to say that it’s not for everyone. The film is, after all, a true life story and covers real issues such as African Americans and police brutality, music industry greed, HIV and AIDS, and importantly life in America’s poor neighbourhoods. The soundtrack is absolutely cracking, of course featuring some of the group’s hits as well as classics from Run-DMC, 2Pac and Wu-Tang Clan, among others. Plus, I loved the cameo-type appearances of other hip-hop artists such as 2Pac, Warren G and Snoop Dogg- the actor of Snoop Dogg was absolutely on point, and had him down right to his accent, mannerisms and walk. I reckon this film is a must-see and many people would enjoy it despite perhaps being put off by the fact it’s about a rap group, due to its portrayal of real issues.