Straight Outta Compton

Somehow I totally forgot to get the STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON review up before release back in September. I am slowly compiling my TOP 20 of 2015 list and realised there was no review up for this. HUGE APOLOGIES to Universal Pictures but here it is, better late than never. And when you get your gift cards for Xmas maybe save them – this one is releasing on DIG, DVD and Blu Ray on January 16th in Australia. It runs for 147mins and is rated MA15+.

 

Straight Outta Compton Movie Poster Image
Straight Outta Compton | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster Image

 

BY JASON KING

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON is the music biopic of the NWA, the start of a hip-hop revolution that saw the commencement of the likes of ICE CUBE, EAZY-E, DR. DRE and following on from this Tupac, Snoop Dogg and a tidal wave of other artists that have taken the world by storm and given us some of the most talented artists of all time that made a poetry style of music into a music from the heart, a music that tells a story and can inspire the masses.

NWA (Niggers with Attitude) emerged from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionised hip-hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.

 

Straight Outta Compton O'Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube image
Straight Outta Compton | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube

 

The problem that faced NWA and its members was the 80s and 90s and their lack of focus on money and the future – they only cared about the music, they were mostly all swindled by recording companies and anyone who could took advantage and their financial woes led to distrust, fighting, separation and eventually their disbandment. While I had ever only known of their music the discovery of their past, their woes and their demise is bloody interesting and a warning to artists of today that excess and naivety can lead to destruction.

But when it came to music these guys set the benchmarks, their music today is still epic and influential. Every member excluding Eazy-E has gone on to remain icons on the industry. You will all know ICE CUBE from music to acting, most recently in the Jump Street movies. And as for Dr. Dre, now known only as Dre, just think headphones :). His Beats by Dre headphones was the largest acquisition by a Apple, they paid $3BILLION for the company, you could say Dre is no longer a poor man from Compton, he is now a member of the board of Apple owning $400MIL in stock.

 

Straight Outta Compton movie image
Straight Outta Compton | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) and Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti)

 

The acting is superb and the success of the film is in managing to juggle so many complex characters to make the movie work and all the people memorable. I don’t know much about Eazy-E but Jason Mitchell’s performance was admirable, O’Shea Jackson Jnr. also nailed playing his own father, Ice Cube, in the movie, the mannerisms and personality all true Cube. Go to man for assholes in a music biopic, Paul Giamatti, is brilliant in his portrayal as their manager with dubious qualifications and skills, Jerry Heller. I can see Giamatti with a best supporting role Oscar nomination for this role (but the award has to go to 9yr old Jacob Tremblay from ROOM!!!).

My favourite actor in this one was Corey Hawkins as Dr Dre. I think it was because he was a solid guy through the entire movie who was completely dedicated to his craft whereas Eazy-E and Ice Cube went to musical blows and to some extent had ego “lead-man” issues. Empathy also leads itself more to Dre who was screwed by anything with a pulse while maintaining his cool and being all for the love of music. But, in the end it truly paid out for him.

 

Straight Outta Compton movie image
Straight Outta Compton | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre

 

You don’t have to be a fan of the music to see the movie, but by the end of it you will appreciate it and the movie’s trajectory on par with the rightful evolution of the trials of the “black” population of the U.S.. The film shows the Rodney King riots, it shows the mistreatment of human beings with different pigment and it shows how NWA was a force for standing up for what is right, it may have done it with musical rage, but they were heard – this elevates them to more than musicians, they are activists and people who bettered the world. Also, their music is great, you could say the album has been played a few times in the JK house since seeing the movie, it wasn’t something I was into at the time, it was all Madonna and Bros for me at the time hahahaha.

Now award winning director F. Gary Gray has stuck to his one chosen narrative for the movie, that of the racial influence and considering both Ice Cube and Dre were producers on the movie it is their story as they see it. There has been a little bit of conflict following the movie’s release. Jerry Heller loathes the movie and does not support it in anyway claiming fictionalised deterioration of his relationship with Eazy-E, of course he would, he is made out to be a kind of monster by the end, his ending was sad though to some extent.

Also a lot of fans were pissed that in the movie MC Ren (played by Aldis Hodge) was left as a background character but in the days of NWA his writing was huge, especially following Ice Cube’s departure. 

 

Straight Outta Compton Album Cover Image
Straight Outta Compton | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Straight Outta Compton Album Cover Image

 

There was also a little concern as to how the film is glossy in its representation of the band and really how they completely removed their musical misogyny of the time. I also fail to see that both Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were so innocent in real life but this is probably how they see it as happening and of course they would paint a prettier picture in hindsight.

Regardless of the negatives, as a “based on real events” biopic the film is enthralling and stylised for the time and I bloody loved it.

 

4 Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).