Blu-ray Review: Straight Outta Compton

ComptonBluSTUDIO: Universal | DIRECTOR: F. Gary Gray | CAST: O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown, Jr., Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
RELEASE DATE: 1/19/16 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $34.98
BONUSES: commentary, featurette, deleted scenes, director’s cut
SPECS: R | 147 min. | Biographical musical drama | 2.40:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie   | Audio | Video  | Overall

The music-filled biographical drama Straight Outta Compton plays like an extra-long episode of VH1’s erstwhile Behind the Music in the best possible way—the actors sink seamlessly into their roles, the live-music performances are so high-energy they feel entirely authentic, and special care is given to the sound quality of the early-’90s music that once fueled the nascent gangsta rap scene and now plays more or less continuously in the background of the film.

Straight_Outta_Compton_review_optDocumenting the rise and inevitable split of N.W.A—one of the first gangsta-rap groups to find mainstream success—Compton offers titillating glimpses of backstage decadence while never losing sight of the gritty flipside of the L.A. Dream that birthed Eazy E and his compatriots.  (If nothing else, you’ll come away from the film with a deeper understanding of the legitimate rage that fueled “Fuck tha Police,” even if you still can’t bring yourself to echo its sentiment.)

Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are compelling in the roles of Dr. Dre and Eazy E, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. so closely resembles his father, Ice Cube, in both appearance and mannerisms that seeing him play the role feels almost like watching documentary footage. And Paul Giamatti—in his second turn as a music manager this past year following his role as Brian Wilson’s overseer Elliott Landy in Love & Mercy—once again proves his chops as N.W.A’s shady manager Jerry Heller.

Director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) cut his teeth on rap clips back in the late Nineties and it shows in Compton, which, again, smacks of popular music docs. The film overall would have greatly benefited from a significant trim and begins to drag as its two-and-a-half-hour running time wears on, but the growth of gangsta rap from urban niche market to suburban staple has finally gotten the chronicle it deserves.

 

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About Gwen

Gwen Cooper is a movie and TV lover and the author of Homer's Odyssey (no, not the one you're thinking of).