Time to kick off this blog properly with my first review for the much anticipated Straight Outta Compton, the story about the origin, rise and fall of the group NWA.
This is an important Biopic not just because of the music revolution it encases, but also for how the issues illustrated from the turn of the 1990’s as just as relevant today as the were back then. Discrimination, police brutality, segregated poverty… it is kind of un-nerving how close some of what you see relate to what we have seen this year on the news outlets. For many people, this will be a very important film that they hope will exceed all expectations.
And even though it never does do that, I still found this pretty damm good. The highlight is the first hour when we meet the characters of Dre, Cube, Essy-E, Yella and Ren. Their incredible energy, brutal honesty, and how well they play off of each other add so much fuel to the movie’s engine. It is electric in a way that instantly pulls you into their world. You can feel that they are standing on a point of no return, but one that has to be passed for them to truly get their message out to the mainstream.
From there we get some nice glimpses into how they form the group as well as the music. It is cleverly captured, well written and runs along at a very good pace. And for that first hour, it keeps at this intense and intensely enjoyable pace. Big props have to go to the actors who do quite a great job at performing as the big names.Paul Giamatti is noteworthy too as the group’s first manager.
After that first hour though, things start to slow down, the tempo gets sucked out, and we witness the slow and bitter break ups that take place in the 90’s. Now, a lot of the material is done very well, no denying that at all. But it never felt as engaging to me. As much as I wanted to keep excited for what I was watching (and along with a great theatre audience too) it was all in too low a gear by then. It was something that “The Wolf of Wall Street” was able to deal with better by sprinkling set pieces all the way through. This film needed some more of that.
But honestly, besides that and some weird inclusions in the cast or side characters, there isn’t a whole heap more that I can complain about. The directing is super solid, I thought the main cast, especially Corey Hawkins, were chosen well, the music is infectious and was bad ass through the big speakers, and that first hour is so fucking great. Even with all I have said the problems still don’t hurt the movie as much as they should have, and I walked out happy with what I had seen.
It may not be a “great” Biopic, but it is still exceptionally good and worth checking out.