By Corey Brueggemeyer, The Miami Student
Since mainstream Hollywood has become primarily “lock” sequels and branded franchises, there is little room left for films not in those categories to vault out of obscurity and become national box-office successes. With the extreme cost of technology required to give a film superior visual effects, those that want to make money must have a base level of quality to even be noticed by critics and audiences alike.
The surprise hit of the summer, “Straight Outta Compton,” not only meets this base level of quality, but also exceeds it from a filmmaking perspective.
“Straight Outta Compton” tells the story of revolutionary hip-hop group NWA, as they emerge from the violent streets of Compton to worldwide renown. It provided a pleasant mix between dramatic, racially-charged scenes and comedic asides that also helped develop the plot.
The first thing that stood out to me in this film was the brilliant cast, particularly those who played the four core members of the group. O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s performance of his father, Ice Cube, was uncanny; from his subtle micro-reactions to a flawless delivery of his father’s lyrics. One of the few veteran actors in the film, Paul Giamatti, shined in his performance as sleazy band manager, Jerry Heller. While his morality in the film is often called into question, he confirms his prowess as one of Hollywood’s best character actors.
This film did a great job of capturing the energy behind the music — beginning with the basic beats used as the cornerstone of a new and innovative sound. While I loved how the film started with the origins of the music, I thought it could have done more to explain the technical aspects of why the music was so revolutionary.
Unfortunately, “Straight Outta Compton” pulled certain punches when it came to the moral themes it was trying to portray. While it did a fantastic job of displaying police brutality by racist white cops at the hands of innocent African American youths, it shied away from portraying the brutal treatment of females by certain members of the group, mainly Dr. Dre. I’m not usually one to criticize the agenda of a film, but I feel that if you are trying to change the world with a story, you must include ALL the modern issues associated with the story, not just the ones that benefit the members of the group.
Regardless, I believe “Straight Outta Compton” did a fantastic job of portraying one of the most revolutionary groups in the history of music. Thanks to this film, a good slice of America will now know the story of the sound that forever changed our nation.