Wed | Apr 26, 2017

Straight Outta Compton, a stunner

Published:Thursday | August 20, 2015 | 8:00 AMMarcia Rowe
From left: Aldis Hodge, as MC Ren; Neil Brown Jr, as DJ Yella; Jason Mitchell, as Eazy-E; O’Shea Jackson Jr, as Ice Cube; and Corey Hawkins, as Dr Dre, in the film 'Straight Outta Compton'.
Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson), left, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. attend the Berlin premiere of "Straight Outta Compton" in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015.
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Universal Studio was more than willing to reimburse theatres across the US for the anticipated additional security at the showing of the F. Gary Gray-directed Straight Outta Compton on the weekend. This proved to be unwarranted, as the movie raked in US$6.2 million - and counting - and claimed the No. 1 spot at the box office, propelling hip hop to a new high.

Imagine having just been told by your partner that he/she is leaving you, and as your friends try to comfort you, still standing on the sidewalk, you are accosted by the police. Told to get on your stomach, and with hands behind you, you are frisked and eventually told to get off the street. All of this because of the colour of your skin.

Or, imagine that you have become successful, but you allow it to blind your sense of what is morally right, and instead, live vicariously, only to die at the peak of your career.

Fairy tale as it may sound, these scenarios were just some of the experiences of a group of young men who lived in Compton, California. Re-enacted, these situations become two of the powerful scenes that silenced the mixed-race audience at the viewing of Straight Outta Compton at the AMC Theatre in Clifton, New Jersey, last Saturday.

Wearing the title of Eazy-E's Ruthless Record debut studio album, Straight Outta Compton recreates the crassness, the violence and deception, as well as the racial and social injustice espoused in the lyrics of songs associated with the hardcore music. Likewise, the tone of the music was reflected in the fast-paced plot, the language and lifestyle of the characters, and overall content of the movie.

REVOLUTIONISING INDUSTRY

With most of the scenes set in Compton, the story at times moves back and forth from California to other states. However, it begins with the formation of the group NWA (Niggers with Attitude) and then moves on to show how they - Dr Dre (Corey Antonio Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown) - use their abundance of talents and social experiences to revolutionise the music industry and subsequently California hip hop culture.

By no means is the movie dull and doom. Director Gray and his cast ensured that the witty lines were justly delivered as those that paint pictures of disappointment and grief. In all cases, they were successful.

Generally, the acting was of a very high standard. The principals - Jackson, Mitchell and Hawkins - along with Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller as the deceptive manager of Ruthless Studio and R. Marcus Taylor as the disgusting Surge Knight gave compelling performances. They were all able to evoke the appropriate empathy of their characters.

Straight Outta Compton, which also pays tribute to Eazy-E, who died from Aids, is worth seeing.