Monday, August 31, 2015

'Straight Outta Compton' Might Turn Out Being as Groundbreaking as N.W.A.

Straight Outta Compton is the surprise movie of the year.  No one was expecting it to be this much well received.  I also like it, but probably not as much as the general acclaim that it’s currently receiving.

This movie is a biographical film about N.W.A., the revolutionary hip hop group that originated from Compton, California.  It chronicles events from how Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and DJ Yella formed the group in the 80’s up to Eazy-E’s death in the 1995, covering the rise of N.W.A, their cultural impact, feuds, and personal struggles.  Of course, typical of biographical films, the story also makes liberties and has some fictional revisions added.

I enjoy some hip hop songs but I’m not particularly a fan of the genre.  I’m familiar with some hip hop history and culture, but I have to say that I’m not so knowledgeable about them.  I know who Ice Cube (because he has become an actor) and Dr. Dre (because Eminem, who I liked as a teenager, thinks highly of him) are, but I can’t remember having heard of Eazy-E and the others prior to this movie.  Thus, I find Straight Outta Compton a very fascinating and informative look on hip hop history and culture.  Most of the things that the movie presented are new to me.

But more than being a fascinating study, Straight Outta Compton really works well as a movie.  The production values are terrific, perfectly embodying where and when the movie is set on.  The writing and editing do well in keeping the narrative quality coherent and engaging despite the dense plot.  The direction is both energetic and polished, and the acting is topnotch.  Many say that the actors’ portrayals of the N.W.A. members are spot on, but I wouldn’t really know – except for O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube – since I don’t know most of them, but I believe this is true.  I also enjoyed seeing Aldis Hodge (he plays MC Ren) on screen again; I really liked the guy as Alec Hardison in Leverage.

The movie also touches upon some relevant themes and social issues, which is interesting.  There are some insights that I have to nod with, but I don’t really agree with much of the overall message of the movie – or N.W.A. for that matter.  The story is probably being manipulative in sending its message, but I understand where it’s coming from.

In the end, I don’t think Straight Outta Compton is the potential classic that many think it is.  But I could be wrong.  Time might find that it’s as groundbreaking to biopics as N.W.A. is to hip hop music.  Either way, it definitely has enough interesting things going for it to make it one of 2015’s most important, must-watch films.  

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