These “transfer” reviews are from when I only did reviews on my Facebook page back in 2015. Bare in mind when reading these, I didn’t have the same formula in my review writing that I do now, and my usual “who starred and who directed” information is completely absent, so everything “italicized” is new. With that said, enjoy this review from 2015.
As most of you know, I am not exactly a music aficionado. What music I do listen to isn’t exactly the kind that most people do listen to. Rap, hip-hop, none of that takes up any room in my library. Just not my cup of tea. Naturally, I wasn’t exactly excited for this movie which focused on artists of a genre that I was not familiar with, hence I had no real connection to them that some may have. But upon this movie’s release, the movie was getting rave reviews, so my excitement started rising too. I wanted to keep an open mind that just because I may not be a fan of the music, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a human story being told. So after work, bought my ticket, had a couple drinks (PS: 2 long islands with peach schnapps instead of soda equals AMAZE-BALLS), and sat down for this movie.
Starring: Jason Mitchell (DETROIT , KONG: SKULL ISLAND , KEANU , and upcoming films SUPERFLY  and MUSTANG ), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (DEN OF THIEVES , INGRID GOES WEST , and upcoming films FLARSKY  and GODZILLA: KING OF MONSTERS ), and Corey Hawkins (KONG: SKULL ISLAND, and upcoming films BLACKKKLANSMAN  and GEORGETOWN )
Support: Aldis Hodge (HIDDEN FIGURES , JACK REACHER 2 , and the upcoming WHAT MEN WANT ), Neil Brown Jr. (lots of TV shows), Paul Giamatti (RATCHET & CLANK , MORGAN , LOVE & MERCY , and upcoming films THE CATCHER WAS A SPY  and I THINK WE’RE ALONE NOW ), Alexandra Shipp (LOVE, SIMON , X-MEN: APOCALYPSE , and upcoming films A DOG’S WAY HOME  and X-MEN: DARK PHOENIX ), and Lakeith Stanfield (GET OUT , SNOWDEN , MILES AHEAD , and upcoming films SORRY TO BOTHER YOU  and THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB )
Director: F. Gary Gray (F8 OF THE FURIOUS , and the upcoming Men in Black spin-off )
Writer: Jonathan Herman (feature film debut; congrats, sir) and Andrea Berloff (SLEEPLESS , and the upcoming THE KITCHEN )
Composer: Joseph Trapanese (GREATEST SHOWMAN , ALLEGIANT , and upcoming films ROBIN HOOD  and ARCTIC )
Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique (MOTHER! , MONEY MONSTER , and upcoming films A STAR IS BORN  and VENOM )
Editors: Billy Fox (ONLY THE BRAVE  and LOWRIDERS ) and Michael Tronick (TOMB RAIDER )
This is my honest opinion of: STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
The story revolves around the not-yet-formed hip-hop group N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dj Yella (Neil Brown Jr.), and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge). Dre wants to be big in the world of music, but he’s constantly berated by his mom to get a real job. Ice Cube wants to show that he knows how to write. Managing to perform and gain recognition one day, a manager for a music studio, Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) offers the five young men a shot at creating a record to get the world to hear their controversial, but brutally honest music involving their lives and what they’ve gone through. They manage to release their first album, “Straight Outta Compton” and it’s a hit. However, there’s a particular song that the local authorities don’t appreciate, “Fuck tha Police,” which the media says encourages violence against law enforcement. The police tell the group they can’t perform that song. The group decides that they have freedom of speech and perform it anyway.
Honestly, I thought this movie was pretty good. But… don’t hate me, not great. IMDb gave this movie an 8.4/10 (in its initial release), up there with AMERICAN BEAUTY, ALIENS, and RETURN OF THE JEDI, which I highly disagree with.
fI don’t really care about the music. As I mentioned, I’m a Calabasas kid (even that can be debated), so I’m not attached to rap or hip-hop. My main concern was relatable characters or empathetic ones. For the most part, that’s what I got. The primary focus was mostly Dre, Cube, and Eazy-E. There’s barely any screen time for Dj Yella or MC Ren (which is bullshit; Hodge is probably the most prolific actor in this bunch of unknowns). Don’t get me wrong, Jackson Jr. playing his own father (his only film credit) with as much perfection and likeness is damn impressive with a non-existent film career.
I find myself at a loss for words, as this is a dramatic biographic movie, so I don’t want to be a dick about the men that these actors are portraying. But honestly, this film is about speaking your mind and saying what you feel like saying. Following suit, I will do just that. No performance really blows me away, aside from Jackson Jr. and maybe Mitchell and Hawkins, whereas Hodge and Brown Jr. are the (as previously mentioned) only actors with a ton of film and TV credits under their belts and they’re the most under-utilized actors in the movie (anyone else smell the irony?). Don’t get me wrong, no performance is bad, per se, but I’ve seen these edgy ghetto-black kid performances from other movies. Even Giamatti, who is an acting legend and powerhouse, brings only a few solid scenes.
Honestly, the only time when Michell’s performance shines through is at the end when Eazy-E is diagnosed with H.I.V. and is told that he is going to die. You see the pain of the inevitable going through him. Someone whose been beaten, shot at, arrested by white-supremacist cops, and it’s a virus that’s going to kill him, you see that defeat in his eyes. You see that he doesn’t want to die. He wants to continue to perform with his closest friends; he’s not ready to leave. This scene is hard to watch, and Mitchell brings it home. It feels honest. Not like a stereotypical Hallmark Channel movie where he accepts his fate and tries to sugar-coat it to his friends and family, but rather plays it like a human being. I found myself crying during this stuff, and seeing how the rest of his friends take his fate really yanks at your heart-strings, wishing for a happy ending, even though his death is widely known.
I won’t lie, a story like this should be told, but I suppose my biggest problem with the movie doesn’t really know what story it’s telling. I know it’s a biopic, and is subject matter that means something to a lot of people, but I can’t shake this feeling that the movie loses sight of that. I mean, why create a story based around the N.W.A? Shouldn’t the point be their music and what it meant at a time where this music needed to be heard? For awhile it does that, definitely, but later on we’re shown conflict regarding contracts, proverbial snakes in the group, among many other things that deter from the selling point. This may be stuff that happened to the N.W.A. but this isn’t a documentary. It’s a dramatization of true events, and real stories have voices. Keep that voice from rambling, writers. There was something truly special here, but it’s just… good. Even bouts of really good. But definitely over-rated. And due to this, I just don’t see this movie standing the test of time. I wager it’s going to win at least one award when the Oscars roll around, but… I don’t know, it’s nothing particularly special and won’t exactly be timeless.
Is it a bad movie? Hell no. But is it great… eh, not really. Worth it? Sure, it’s a fine enough story for what it is, it’s just… a bit of a let-down from what it COULD have been.
My honest rating for STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON: a strong 3/5