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Blu-Ray review: Straight Outta Compton

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straight-outta-compton

Fast and Furious 8 director F. Gary Gray blew up last year helming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. A cinematic hit, the 11th of January sees the film’s home release in the UK. Straight Outta Comptonfeatures breakout stars O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell asEazy-E, Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella, and Aldis Hodge as MC Ren as the members of N.W.A. and Paul Giamatti as their manager.

Following the highs and lows of “the world’s most dangerous group”, Straight Outta Compton charts N.W.A. assembling, conquering and falling apart, while the L.A.P.D. harass, bully and literally get away with murder – bathing early scenes in flashing red and blue and threateningly hovering in the wings throughout.

The boys begin their career never backing down, and always having each other’s backs, but money and their manager’s sly skimming and contract shadiness forces cracks to appear in their friendship. Gray continues to follow their subsequent careers as Eazy-E starts to lose it; Dre falls in with the psychotic Suge Knight at Death Row records; and Cube constantly gets screwed financially, but lyrically rips everyone who did him wrong to shreds.

The film is as hard as its protagonists and the casting is excellent. The core group are all perfectly recreated, but even smaller appearances by the likes of Warren G, Snoop and Pac are also instantly recognisable. Giamatti’s performance is as great as ever, but he is a bit let down by his hair and make-up, with a hair-do that makes it hard to look at anything else when it’s on screen. With so much to cover,Straight Outta Compton’s focus is sometimes to widespread and wandering, but the music and acting is so tight it makes Straight Outta Compton dope as hell.

The presentation of the film on the Blu-Ray is spot on. A crisp and flawless picture is backed up by properly banging audio – the LFE being made to unleash plenty of pleasingly floor-shaking bass – that gets you as close to a late-eighties N.W.A. gig as you can get from your own lounge.

Two versions of the film are on the Blu-Ray: the original theatrical cut, as well as a twenty minute longer Director’s Cut. The Director’s Cut clocks in just under three hours and is a bit too big and baggy for a first watch, so I’d recommend watching the theatrical first.

The extras package is stacked. There are deleted scenes, and a never before seen performance. “Director’s Journey” is an interview-packed piece showing F. Gary Gray getting the band together, “The Streets” showcases how he went about making the film’s Compton streets feel authentic, and “N.W.A. Performs in Detroit” focusses on the band’s controversial performance of “Fuck Tha Police” after being warned not to sing it by the cops beforehand. A further three featurettes: “Becoming N.W.A.”, “N.W.A. The Origins”, and “Impact”, explore the casting process, the group’s history, and their legacy.

4-out-of-5

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