STRAIGHT Outta Compton hit UK cinemas on August 28, Quays News Entertainment reporter Ollie Mackenzie’s been to see it…

Straight Outta Compton is a film that knows the story it wants to tell and tells it well. It creates an eye-opening ‘us against them’ tale and tells the rise of the N.W.A. However, the lasting feeling I got from the film is that it should have dared to do more to tell this story rather than just gloss over some of the flaws of the characters it focuses on.

Perhaps the fact that the film was produced by Ice Cube and Doctor Dre is a reason for this. But the fact that some issues (such as Dre’s treatment of women), are glossed over throughout the films 2h 27m run time meaning that it misses the opportunity to tell a more raw version of events, that would have given a better character development.

Due to this it falls into the same trap that most biopic films fall into; that you want your characters to be painted as the heroes that fans of the subject matter come to see. Yet, because of that you don’t get a true tale of their rise to fame and staying at the top.

Nonetheless, the outstanding thing about this film is its cinematography. Every performance and every scene of tension is immersive; in particular the actors who play the members themselves have done a great job of impersonating their real life counterparts on film. Even cameo’s such as Keith Stanfield who played Snoop, do a solid job of giving convincing performances. From a music standpoint, there really is nothing to complain about.

One of the other positives of the film is that it’s pacing is almost perfect, from the opening scene were Eazy-E is involved in a drug deal, to the Detroit riot everything is kept fast and flowing; which suits the subject matter perfectly.

Haller, played by Paul Giamatti, is easily the best written, acting as the connecting link between members of the audience. The N.W.A. Hawkins also gives an enveloping performance as Dr.Dre, with scenes such as him breaking down after learning his brother had died being genuinely moving; simply because you don’t expect the film to stop so suddenly when the first act had been the meteoric rise of the group.

Jason Mitchell is the other stand out actor, and seems to flourish the task of playing Eaze-e. His on film work is brilliant with every mannerism down to a tee, yet his actual character shows a misstep.

E goes from a happy go lucky member of the group in act one, to being antagonist in act 2, to anti-hero in act 3, and whist you could argue that’s true to the tale, it makes the plot of the film inconsistent, and actually ends up hurting his character development. The film happens to gloss over some of the patchier moments of all the members’ careers, it ends up painting him as the bad guy who has lost control, when actually everyone involved was guilty of that at some point.
The film’s biggest crime plot wise though, is the lack of context. Whilst it talks about the LA riots and Detroit police telling them not to play f**k Da Police. It doesn’t focus on how their music affected people rather than just themselves.

This is a real down point on Straight Outta Compton, because what made the band so great wasn’t just their music. It was how the music changed lives and made people ask questions about institutionalized racism. It may be a biopic so needs to focus mainly on the group itself. However, it seems to follow the same pattern as Birth of The Beatles in 1979. Yes it tells you about the rise to fame, but it doesn’t tell you what made the group so brilliant to start with, and isn’t that what a biopic is all about? In a world today consisting of the Ferguson riots and still tensions between black youths and the police, it could have served as a stark and eye-opening warning from history.

From a technical perspective, Straight Outta Compton does a solid effort, it’s a good watch throughout just for its plus points as a regular film. However, a biopic has to do more than that, it has to tell you about the person. The character development; whilst good at giving depth from a fictional standpoint, doesn’t stand up when you begin to learn about the group’s life and times. You’ll enjoy this film more if you have never listened to rap music before or were too young to understand the racial tension in 90’s America. But because it tries to paint the group in as good a light as possible they all seem a little one dimensional compared to their real life counterparts. Almost to an extent that it’s trying to look at a R-rated era in PG tinted spectacles.

Rated: 15

Running time: 147 minutes

By: Oliver Mackenzie
@Olliemackenzie7

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