The concept behind Straight Outta Compton, as a film, has been in the works since 2009. With it’s release earlier this year, it has now become an extremely popular film, and I finally got a chance to check it out. One thing is clear, N.W.A, the groups destiny that we follow, are in truth, straight out of Compton. A few other things are not as clear.
Due praise must be given to the performances by all the cast. Jason Mitchell who plays Eazy-E is stand out, and it’s his character that experiences the greatest arc, which is why there is a stronger emotional connection to his character. It does seem that most of the other characters were not given the same care and attention, which is a shame, considering the great ensemble found here. O’Shea Jackson, Ice Cube’s son as Ice Cube is also note worthy, then again he does have his father’s resemblance on his side.
Paul Giamatti as Jerry Keller perhaps delivered most surprises, performance-wise, especially towards the end when you are let with little or no doubt about his frustration to do good versus his supposed greed. The only thing that I wasn’t buying was his silvery straight hair, it looked out of place. Marcc Rose as Tupac was a pleasant surprise. Marcc Rose is a new comer, and there are rumours he is set to play the late Tupac in the upcoming biopic, but that isn’t confirmed. I’m inclined to think it was a full dress rehearsal, if you ask me.
Another thing that is for sure, regarding Straight Outta Compton is that you need to watch this film with sufficient bass, because the film garnishes us with some great beats and colourful accompanying rap lyrics. I’m sure this goes without saying, considering it is a musical biopic, but any lover of the rap music genre and avid listeners who perhaps even grew up with the works of N.W.A will no doubt be pleased. As much as I am in tune with hip-hop culture, some of the music was new to me, so it was a pleasant surprise. Lover of rap music or not, there are reasons to watch this film.
Partly shot on location, we get a glimpse of what condition were and perhaps still are like in infamous Compton, but it emphasises repeatedly how brutal police have been with African Americans, simply because of their skin colour. Any film that brings attention to such injustices deserves merit, because any sort of intimidation by anyone with power is an ugly beast that needs to be exposed. This film’s editing is to be praised, for being able to depict moments of intensity so well, you really feel the injustice, you really feel the pain.
Apart from the constant lens flare, which seems to prevail in the first half of the film, the film is well directed, which would have been a mammoth of a task, considering the 147 minute runtime. Having said that, in retrospect, the film struggled to flow adequately in some parts, it was very up and down, and at times for no particular reason. Additionally, whenever you make a film that is supposed to be based on a ‘true story’, someone is bound to get upset about the depiction of said events. A quick Google search will reveal that certain important elements were omitted. Alonzo Williams’ calls it “a great fusion of fantasy and reality.” Perhaps the lens flare is being used to depict a distorted memory?
Straight Outta Compton has and will have cultural importance, just be sure to take it with a grain of salt. Perhaps the most rewarding thing about the experience will come when the end credits start to role, plus you’ll find yourself walking and talking all gangsta, perhaps even wanting to bust out a rhyme or two!
TRIVIA COOKIE: There were talks for a scene to include a young Eminem with Dr. Dre, they had even cast Ansel Elgort for the part, but the scene was never even shot.