Walking in this one, I’ll admit that i was genuinely worried. I wasn’t sure how effective the message they proclaimed from the 80’s and 90’s would work. But in truth, there has probably been no better time for this to come out. It speaks volumes on the lack of racial progress in America when the message of this movie needs no changing from the 1980s to now.
As the film starts, we are shown various points in Ice Cube, Easy E and Dr. Dre’s lives and how they come to meet one another and solidify as a group. The other group members, MC Ren and DJ Yella are also introduced early on, but are not featured as prominently as the members listed above. We are shown the groups formation, their early struggles to leave Compton and become established as a national sensation.
The tension between black people and various police personnel was used to extreme effect. There were many scenes that are going to make you comfortable as you see unwarranted harassment or arrests occur; this was on a regular basis for them. These scenes leave you with the feeling that their were many arrests or moments of harassment that could have also made the film. But then we’d have a massively long and epic list of misconduct and I’m not sure anyone could have stomached it.
F. Gary Gray does an amazing job creating those visceral moments. Ones that we want to look away from, but we know that we can’t. Nothing came easy to them and when they fight hard to keep what they have earned, you are right there rooting for them; because you know what they have experienced at the hand of those who should be protecting them. Imagine the brilliance of Fruitvale Station but applied throughout the entire film and you’ll close to describing the feeling this one leaves you with. It will be great to see the conversations that get spurred the events shown in this feature.
Compton also serves as a wonderful period piece of America, not only showing us various forms of police prejudice, but also major moments such as the Rodney King trial and the rise of new rap artists, such as Snoop Dogg and Tupac. It was interesting to see these moments added into the film and how well they worked together. The various appearance of popular rappers in their heyday was a sight to behold that wasn’t distracting to the plot at all. Casting was superb on this film, I didn’t know this until after I walked out the film, but the actor playing Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson) is actually his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. He definitely looked and sounded the part, I wonder where he got it from? It’s definitely a once in a lifetime casting that doesn’t come around all that often. And it really solidifies and helps you buy into this film early on.
If there’s anything that will take you out of this experience, there were certainly quite a few nude party scenes that could have been left out and I would have been okay. I understand the world being portrayed and the level of indulgence that they participated in as young men. But it also may be off putting for some, so be aware that there are quite a few scenes like that. Chances are, if you can’t stand the nudity, you probably won’t be a fan of the cussing either. If you can get past those two issues or don’t care about them at all, then you’d be set and ready to go. I’m going to give a strong recommendation to go see this film, but be forewarned, there is a rough and wild ride to be had if you want to complete watching this.
Straight Outta Compton: 8.5 out of 10