Tagged Corey Hawkins

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 6: “Swear”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by David Leslie Johnson

* For a review of the previous episode, “Go Getters” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Sing Me a Song” – click here
On the beach two girls find Tara (Alanna Masterson) washed shore, still alive and not infected. One of the girls nearly kills her, but the older one decides they won’t kill her, not if she isn’t sick. They won’t tell their community about it, or at least the older of the two won’t. At least there are still some good people left in the new world. Sad to see the youngest are already becoming desensitised to living in the post-zombie apocalypse. Although, lucky for Tara one of them was willing to do the right.
Some time before, Heath (Corey Hawkins) and Tara survive on their own. They’re losing hope about what’s next. No gas, barely any food. Heath laments what happened at the station, when they killed those Saviors. All over food and rations. Now with Hilltop and the deal with the Saviors things are supposed to be… tolerable. However, that isn’t enough for everybody. All Heath knows is that to be honest to themselves, they’ve got to admit who they are: killers beneath it all.
Tara’s personal saviour, Cyndie (Sydney Park), tries keeping her presence secret. She leaves a passed out Tara some water, a little food, along with a spear to defend herself. When the poor girl finally wakesup she doesn’t know whether Cyndie’s there to help. So she remains sceptical. Out into the woods Tara goes, following Cyndie back to her community. The place is full of people, and firepower. Suddenly everyone rushes at the sound of a whistle, or a horn, or something. Guns are handed out to everyone. The community’s on high alert. Then the bullets start flying, as Tara runs for her life. She gets the jump on one woman, but the young girl who wanted to kill her earlier stops Tara, gun pointed. Once more Cyndie stops it, although the rest of the community – all women notably – hold their weapons on Tara. “Look, Im cool,” she tells the group. She tries talking to them, even if the place looks on edge. Who knows what’ll happen next.
Back when Tara was with Heath, they come across a bridge, old cars, tents, tarps, you name it scattered everywhere. Lots of “blind spots,” as Heath points out. They go ahead, slow, steady. They find a load of sand dumped on the bridge, covering a ton of bullet casings. When they try sifting through, one wrong pull sends the sand down on top of them, and a load of walkers crawl out from underneath. In the crowd of zombies Heath leaves Tara to fend for herself; no, you fucking didn’t, Heath!!!!! Oh, man. That is raw.

Tara’s now handcuffed to a radiator in the head honcho Natania’s little house. She learns more about the place. They have lots of security measures. Natania wants to know about Tara. She talks a big load of shit about working on a fishing boat before, she and a friend. Smart move, girl. But the community isn’t pleased with strangers wandering in. Regardless, Tara gets an invite to the dinner table for fish stew. Things go normally, and later Natania extends another invite: for Tara to stay with them. Somewhere she can “put down roots” and be a part of their community. We again find out more about the community, that they were in a fight with another group, which left them decimated, and without any of the men who were a part of the group prior. True survivors, hiding and fending for themselves, alive, healthy, together. They trust Tara because she’s had the opportunity to hurt them and chose not to do so. She then opens up to them about her own community in Alexandria, her girlfriend, their way of living. She tells them about killing the people at the station, hoping their groups can work together. “Sooner or later youre gonna need a friend.” Natania proposes sending a guide, to help Tara find Heath, then go to Alexandria and scope out their community for safety.
They head out through the woods. When a zombie needs killing Tara offers to get it done, taking her chance to run from her guides. She fights one of the women when they cross one another. She lands on the other side of a gun, again. The woman says that The Saviors can’t be stopped, there’s no point in going home. They are everywhere, they kill everything and everyone. They’re the ones that killed this community’s men; “every man, every boy over ten, they lined them up, shot them in the head.” Those women ran from Negan and The Saviors and they’re not willing to let Tara ruin any of that. Cyndie manages to help Tara get free, and follows her away. She pleads with Tara not to tell anyone where they are out in the woods, giving her rations for the trip home. On the bridge there are tons of walkers, though. Cyndie helps Tara to get around them, providing gunfire from a car nearby as Tara runs right through the crowd. She makes it to the other side of the zombie wall eventually.

Cut back to when Heath left her on the bridge. Or did he? Nope. He comes back with a gunshot, but Tara’s forced to jump off the bridge to save herself. Now there she stands at the bridge, not sure where Heath might’ve gone. For a second she thinks he’s there on the bridge; only a lady walker with similarly braided, tied up hair. Phew. A little farther off the bridge, Tara finds Heath’s glasses, a swipe card with PPP written on it, and tire tracks.

Out in a field she heads forward, anywhere else. She happens upon a store and some houses, an overturned boat. She keeps moving on back towards home. At the walls of Alexandria, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) sees her coming, happy as can be. But she hasn’t been back in awhile. She doesn’t know about the latest deaths, Denise, all the horror. Rosita (Christian Serratos) asks her about where she was, what happened, and true to her word Tara says she saw nothing.

This was a slower episode, but a good one. I love Tara, and Heath. They got a bit of good screentime, which I hope continues. I’m also itching to get back to Rick and Negan, too.
Next up is “Sing Me a Song” and I’m willing to bet things are going to get nasty.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 1: “First Time Again”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 1:
 “First Time Again”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete

* For a review of the next episode, “JSS” – click here

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.49.17 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.49.26 PMBack to Alexandria once more. I’m only now just starting to review The Walking Dead, jumping in on the newest season. So look out: I’ll get back to the first season, as soon as possible.
With this new beginning, Season 6 starts as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) gives a speech to get everyone prepared – well, after a quick black-and-white flashback to the first time Rick has heard Morgan Jones (Lennie James) in a long time.
Things get dicey pretty quick once a tractor trailer slips off a cliff and throws a wrench into Rick’s whole plan.
Immediately there are hordes and hordes of zombies just pushing their way towards Rick and the crew. Loving the walkers already! Greg Nicotero – legendary makeup artists and effects man alongside partner Howard Berger – directed this season opener, so there’ll be plenty of this to come.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.49.44 PMMore black-and-white flashbacks to more of what we saw at the end of Season 5, after Rick finally went ahead and fought for him, his group, without worrying for the lives of everyone else, as he so often found himself doing.
Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) pours a little liquor out for the dead man he carries. Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) somehow manages not to kill Nicholas (Michael Traynor), bringing him back safely after all; this plays out more through the episode, showing us the compassion of Glenn and their group, as he’s not willing to totally lose himself in the madness of the zombie apocalypse. Smart, or naive? We’ll see as the season gets into gear. So far, though, so good.
Then we’re able to get a look at Morgan’s return. He sits eating with good ole Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), having another little talk with Rick now that they’re reunited. Of course, Rick has changed a lot since their last meeting; Morgan understands, because so has he, no doubt.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.50.12 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.50.59 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.51.13 PMBack in the present, Rick has everyone running like clockwork. They’re systematically working their way down roads, past rows of cars, shooting flares to create diversions for the rows of undead traipsing around.
More black-and-white flashbacks. Rick and Daryl talk about Morgan a little, about what he told them concerning the outside world, the mysterious zombies marked on their foreheads, and so on. We get more and more of a sense Rick is turning cold, colder than ever before. Or maybe he’s simply getting more rational, back to the basics. He and Morgan are slightly at odds simply for the fact Morgan is able to recognize one thing: everyone’s a killer in post-apocalyptica with the walkers.
At the same time, Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) gets to meet a few people he and the others haven’t had the chance to meet yet, other Alexandria residents, such as Heath (Corey Hawkins) who seems nice enough; he and Eugene bond awkwardly over hair, kind of.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.51.33 PMMorgan: “That’s not who you are. I know.
Rick: “Hey – you don’t
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.51.48 PMThere’s a refreshing aspect to having Rick and Morgan back in the same place, at the same time, and more or less on the same page. Because what this allows is a sort of mirror-like reflection of the two men. They’re both very similar, but again – Morgan has a strange type of clarity. Most likely gained after spending so much time alone, withdrawn from the world outside. Unlike Rick, whose entire existence since the fall of civilization has consisted of fighting for others, taking care of others, et cetera. Not to say Morgan hasn’t fought, but Rick has shouldered far too much weight he didn’t necessarily have to to all in the name of being a ‘good man’. Whereas Morgan accepts that part of being a good man sometimes in this new world is also being a bad guy, when necessary; Rick still has a hard time understanding that, reconciling the two sides of himself. Always Sheriff Grimes thinks it can only be one or the other.
Such greatness when Daryl rides his bike up over a hill, so simple: we can see back behind him on the road there are about a hundred or more zombies headed his way, following the sound of his engine rumbling. Incredible little moment! Such a wild and exciting, albeit brief shot.

A big part of this season opener is the quarry – Rick and Morgan stumble across it when they go out to bury the piece of shit Rick killed in the Season 5 finale. This is where Rick’s massive plan goes down, where the episode started. That truck which plummeted off the cliff earlier? It was holding back walkers from pouring into the surrounding area and Alexandria itself. Rick, as well as trusty Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), tries to tell everyone it’s best to take care of the problem and get it done; only a matter of time before the worst happens. Luckily, most everyone agrees. Carter (Ethan Embry) would prefer to reinforce the wall, having worked on the original structure. Daryl, Abraham and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are each game for the plan, as well as all the other regulars like Glenn and Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan). Though, Carter seems to be a little apprehensive about Rick, after the incidents of the finale. However, lots of others from Alexandria soon pipe up to offer their help in hopes of banding together to stop an invasion of walkers from tumbling in through the walls. So Rick lays out the plan in detail for Carter and the others, even if not everyone is totally thrilled with it. Luckily, either way, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), head honcho in charge agrees with Rick and almost all of his ideas/plans.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.52.33 PMAgain, LOTS OF AWESOME ZOMBIE ACTION! Heads crushing, and so on. When Rick and Co. are leading the hordes down the road, Daryl on his bike holding up the front lines, there are a couple excellent bits of nasty gore. Zombies running into the sheet metal, smashing their brains. Others walking through the bits of face and brains and teeth on the ground, slopping through a tiny pool of blood. So, so fun in a gross way! Always love this sort of stuff. Nicotero has mostly only directed on The Walking Dead, including the Webisodes (plus a TV movie and a short), so he usually does some solid work in his episodes when it comes to showing off awesome special makeup effects.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.53.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.53.41 PMTurns out Carter (Embry) has been talking about mutiny, taking Alexandria back from Rick. They think he’s dangerous, or at the least Carter does, anyways. In a flashback, we see Eugene spy on Carter + others talking about the mutiny; Carter is about to put him away with a shot to the head when Rick, Daryl and Morgan show up. Instead of returning the favour and blasting Carter, Daryl’s appeal to Rick shows mercy. More, we get to see how Morgan is a much more dual-natured soul, while Rick remains one or the other: feast or famine, live or die, good or bad.
In the present, though, Carter and Rick reconcile, as the former admits: “You were right” as the plan plays out properly after all. Well, Carter ends up getting chewed by a walker, but everyone else appears fairly safe as it stands. Too bad, I actually love Ethan Embry and hoped he might be sticking around; not the case.
But can Rick begin to accept his own dual nature instead of leaning too far on one side, or will his inability to do so prove fatal for him/those around him at some point, too? There’s no telling where anything will go in the world of The Walking Dead. I have a feeling something tragic and devastating will happen at some point in this season.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.53.49 PMRick: “I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.54.22 PMAt the finale of “First Time Again”, what sounds like a truck horn sounds in the distance. Everyone stops, their eyes full of fear. The walkers start to move in through the woods, off the roads and where they were being coaxed into going by the crew. A great satirical little moment when the walkers head back towards Alexandria – one of those new sub-division signs pointing towards the little town, saying “You’re almost home”. Amazing final shot pulling back over the highway to reveal the masses and masses, unending, of zombies heading to the quaint little suburb where Rick and the group are fleeing home.
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.55.06 PMThe next episode, titled “JSS” (directed by the amazing Jennifer Chambers Lynch; daughter of David), should be extremely interesting. Stay tuned as I go into Season 6 with you all, Walking Deadites!

Straight Outta Compton is N.W.A History-Lite

Straight Outta Compton. 2015. Directed by F. Gary Gray. Screenplay by Andrea Berloff & Jonathan Herman; story by Andrew Berloff, S. Leigh Savidge, & Alan Wenkus.
Starring O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr., R. Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Alexandrea Shipp, Paul Giamatti, Elena Goode, Keith Powers, Sheldon A. Smith, and Keith Stanfield. New Line Cinema.
Rated 18A. 147 minutes.

Straight-Outta-Compton-final-posterTo start, I have to tell people – this is a long one. More than normal. That’s because I credit N.W.A – the most infamous rap group of all time, Niggaz Wit Attitudes – with having enough power, despite their own personal flaws, to open a white boy from Newfoundland, Canada’s eyes to the black experience of young men and women in inner city neighbourhoods, such as the titular Compton. So just stick with me: this review is a beast, but I have things to say, that need to be said concerning Straight Outta Compton.
There’s something truly unique about N.W.A and all the social aspects which surrounded the group’s beginnings, fame, and downfall. Now, while I don’t particularly condone everything these guys did – particularly I’m reminded of the all too absent Dee Barnes assault and other Dre assaults on women from the film – I do recognize how important this one group was in terms of rap and hip hop, as well as where the whole game ended up going after their arrival.
It’s funny how these guys from Compton, so immersed in the black experience, can speak to people of all colours, ages, creeds. Their revolution was one which spoke to many, but certainly most to the young black youth of America. Even white kids like me who grew up in the 1990s were interested in what these guys were doing. It’s because N.W.A, for all their faults, stood against the establishment, they were in the thick of the gang wars in Los Angeles, raging through Compton just about every day, and they spoke to their audience through anger, unrest, and they didn’t take any mess. They took plenty of constructive criticism, even more hatred and spewing of vitriol from people who saw them as a plague in music and society. For all the trashing, there were plenty of people in the streets and the audiences behind N.W.A and all for which they stood.
While I have plenty of love for the musical talents of N.W.A, I don’t necessarily feel like everything they were about made it onto the screen. I do admire a bit of F. Gary Gray’s work as a director, however, I don’t think this is one of the best in the end. Sure, it’s a decent combover on the history of N.W.A, as well as its individual members, but ultimately I don’t see enough of their rawness and the reality of all their faults AND successes in this story that’s being told. I do like Straight Outta Compton, but I can’t say it’s an incredible biopic. The actors do a FABULOUS job with their performances, both physically embodying their real life characters and even the voices, it’s simply not enough to carry this into the realm of a classic biopic. The work was put in, the movie looks good, sounds good, feels good, but the truth was left out at many important intervals in this story and that cannot let Straight Outta Compton stand completely upright on its own.
LxDRTBeginning in 1987, Straight Outta Compton attempts to tell the tale of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Mc Ren, and DJ Yella (Arabian Prince seems to be left out completely unless I missed something) on their road towards becoming N.W.A – Niggaz Wit Attitudes – one of the biggest powerhouses in 20th century music, and one of the reasons rap/hip hop ended up becoming such a mainstay in society.
With their meagre beginnings, Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) is talked into investing some of his drug money into music by his DJ friend Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) and aspiring rapper Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.). From there, things take off: first Eazy gets on the mic and then the magic starts happening.
Once Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) becomes a part of the mix, the tensions rise, as he sets Eazy aside from the others slightly. As Dre and Eazy seem to be fine with most everything (MC Ren and Yella aren’t discussed too much in detail really), Ice Cube has problems with the way his finances are being treated, seeing as how he wrote many of the big hits for N.W.A starting out.
Straight Outta Compton documents the quick rise and the equally as quick fall from grace of N.W.A and the lives of each of its members.

An amazing scene comes around 40 minutes in, when N.W.A performs their first big show with producer Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) in attendance. He brings in a guy from a label who offers the guys a contract with them. The funniest of this is when they ask who he has on the label, to which he replies “The California Raisins“. There’s something so ironic and strange about this moment that I can’t help mention it. I think it goes to speak to how N.W.A was being sought after to be the next big thing; this label, only dealing with the Raisins so far, chomps at the bit to get them signed. I’m not sure if it was meant this way, however, I definitely feel like this was included for a reason. Maybe it’s the actual conversation, who knows, but I feel it speaks to part of the commercial craving a lot of producers were feeling as soon as they saw N.W.A, and similar groups/acts/et cetera. That’s an aspect to the story we can never forget – much as these were talented men trying hard to do their thing, they were also young and dumb and very naive, and part of that led to their exploitation on certain levels. To my mind, this California Raisins scene is part of that in a subtle sense.
straight-outta-comptonInarguably, a significant portion of Straight Outta Compton has to do with the police treatment of young black men in and around neighbourhoods like Compton. After Jerry Heller takes on N.W.A as a group and they’re recording, a scene comes which shows how prejudiced the Los Angeles police were especially in the late ’80s and early ’90s towards black people. As the group hangs outside the recording studio eating burgers and drinking their sodas, two cop cars pull up and start to harass them all. Even a black police officer is the first out, yet still they’re there to sweat these guys; a very telling moment.
What I find best about this scene is how Heller witnesses everything going down. He storms out and reprimands the officers, stating that they can’t simply harass people because they’re black. While we know this goes on, I think having Heller so worked up about the treatment N.W.A receives at the curb while merely standing around innocently and eating lunch speaks VOLUMES. He’s probably discovering, for the first time, this type of situation happens and the police – who are meant to protect and serve – are some of the most racist, prejudiced people on the streets. There are plenty of scenes in the film about this prejudice, I found this one to be one of the most important, as we see the white guy realize how devastating the lives of black people can be when confronted with these young black men being treated like garbage.
Later, we’re treated to a scene where N.W.A, along with Heller, watch a news report on the police brutality Rodney King suffered in 1991. This is an important moment because we can see how emotionally affected each member is, while the only white guy present, Heller, simply thinks they need to keep working; it’s not that he’s rude about it, he simply does not understand or feel the news in the same way as the group.

Even though I don’t feel as if the full truth about N.W.A comes out in Straight Outta Compton, there are absolutely a few scenes where we get a broader view of these guys than simply “Oh they’re revolutionary black musicians”. They certainly were, but they were and are still people; these are human beings.
One in particular I found brutally honest was in the hotel, as Dre opens his room’s door to a man looking for his girlfriend; a woman who is clearly in the room. From a door out of the room a little ways down, Eazy and the boys come out holding guns, chasing the guys off. So a lot of people might watch this and immaturely think “Those guys are badass”, this is not something cool. At all. I mean, sure that girl was cheating on her man, but then Dre and Eazy act like it’s stupid that this guy might come and threaten them? C’mon. This just goes to show how rough and hypocritical these guys could be at any given time. While they often fought the good fight, there were plenty of times they did some nasty downright horrible shit, whether together or individually. This hotel scene is one such instance.
Mlj93There’s also part of me believes, were Eazy-E still alive, this would’ve been a completely different film. First of all, we’re not given as much of Eazy as you might believe while watching. Even with the opening sequence centred around Eric “Eazy-E” Wright in his element, dealing drugs and surviving on the streets, there’s surprisingly little in regards to the actual character, the real life person he was and became. There’s such a glossed over history of N.W.A in Straight Outta Compton that it doesn’t really surprise me Gray’s film ignores largely much of Eazy and his own personal history.
It’s not only Eazy. Seems to me the script Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman came up with wanted to focus on the ideas producers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre felt the spotlight should be on. I get it – Dre and Cube both don’t want their misogyny on the big screen. So first off, there’s the fact they’ve omitted Dee Barnes (and others) significantly. Instead, we get the idea Dre has always only ever been a respectful man towards women – concerned with caring for his family and helping his mother. Maybe that’s partly true, but doesn’t change the fact he’s had a history of violence towards women.
On the other hand, we get little bits of Cube being violent to quell any worries there might be a bias. So we watch him smash up an office building when he’s not getting the money he is owed – y’know, instead of legal recourse. This doesn’t do anything but discredit Cube and the methods these guys used in order to solve their problems. I get it, I know a lot of guys like them who grew up rough and had trouble with the police sometimes for NO reason. That doesn’t change the fact some of the things Cube and the rest of N.W.A do are downright immature, childish, and violent. Still, while we get these little scenes there’s a lot we’re not shown, and for good reason.
People can come to terms with a bit of violent nature when it comes to Cube getting what he’s owed, they’d probably be WAY LESS willing to put aside Dre and his disrespect for women – certainly more so now than back in the ’80s or ’90s, post-Chris Brown and an overall societal awakening to the rampant abuse women face.

We get good looks at Suge Knight, but again, he’s another character who we don’t get to see the full truth about. Yes, there’s plenty of evidence here suggesting Knight’s rough, more violent approach to business with Death Row Records. What we don’t get is a broad spectrum to show how dangerous the man is, merely there are typical scenes we’d expect – there’s no range in Suge, at all. Not saying he’s a complicated man; here, though, he is downright one-dimensional. He’s like the big villain, the bad guy. And he is villainous in real life. To me, the problem is this feels like the CliffNotes version of the Suge Knight subplot in the overall greater story of N.W.A. There’s no real introduction to Suge as much as the other major players in the story; he simply shows up in the life of Dre and becomes a presence.
Meanwhile, the other big baddie is Jerry Heller. He gets more play and we see more about him as a person, as a character, instead of merely being a negative entity in the world of N.W.A in the sense Suge is displayed. He’s not particularly likeable all the time, though, he’s afforded more characterization as that villainous entity than Suge Knight, which I think is unfair; Suge doesn’t deserve much, however, they might as well give him more time seeing as how he played such a destructive force in Dre’s career and the final dismantling of N.W.A.
straight-outta-compton-movie-3Above all, the film opts to go more for all the interpersonal drama between Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, as well as Eazy-E and the others, instead of taking more time to focus on the individual lives of each member. We get small slivers, it seems like most of that is relegated to the respective N.W.A members with their wives – we don’t ever see much of the stepping out, the cheating, we don’t watch Eazy-E do much sleeping around (other than one brief reference as he tells Jerry he’s about to go have a bunch of sex).
So while there are great moments in this script – think the whole angle of including the Watts Riots after Rodney King’s assaulters, the police, were not indicted for their crimes – I can’t say that Straight Outta Compton is solid. Not in any way. There’s never enough focus on the right aspects, there isn’t enough of the REALNESS, the RAW GRITTY story behind N.W.A.
Instead we’re treated to a bunch of half-assed looks at some of the people surrounding Dre, Cube, and the rest. For instance, Snoop Dogg (Keith Stanfield) shows up in a couple scenes; mostly it’s an excuse to have someone imitate Snoop, well enough, but there’s nothing interesting here except hearing them come up “Gin and Juice”. Then Marcc Rose shows up playing Tupac Shakur, if only for a scene; plus they’ve got someone else voicing him. I mean, why even bother? It serves no purpose in the end here to include Snoop and Tupac, or anyone else, that’s not an integral part to the story. They’re simply little add-ons not given enough time to do anything but show up. I thought this was beyond lazy.

One thing I did not like is how the director felt the need to spoon feed us with the names of each character. Do you really think N.W.A fans can’t figure out which one is Eazy, Ren, Dre, Cube, Yella? I mean, sure, it gives the film a little style having their names pop up next to them, but to me it’s annoying. F. Gary Gray, did you have to put Dre’s name up while we’re watching him with the headphones on, listening to a beautiful song, almost conducting with his fingers as he listens? You think we couldn’t have figured that out on our own? Not to mention the fact each of the N.W.A cast members looks like who they’re playing. There’s no need at all to tell us “THIS IS DRE THIS IS EAZY” and so on. Overkill in my mind. Too heavy handed a technique for me, especially in a biopic; dumb move. It’s fine to put the dates up, things like that, I just can’t see any reason to label each character when it’s SO CLEAR who they are at all times.
maxresdefaultIn the end, I can only give this movie a 2.5 star rating. There’s no way I can go higher. Simply put, the fact Ice Cube and Dr. Dre produced this film, and from what I gather worked on it closely from many angles, really damaged the end product. Part of that ended up in a lot of things being omitted: no mention of Dee Barnes or Dre’s other violent encounters with women, Eazy-E’s battle with AIDS is reduced to an endnote in the final 20 minutes (most of which is precipitated by lots of coughing instead of a real focus on how promiscuous Wright was through his career), Suge Knight is a one-dimensional villain, and overall none of the individual stories surrounding N.W.A are treated with care or shown in great detail.
While I love N.W.A, their music and parts of their legacy, I feel they’re most definitely a conflicted group in terms of how fans and others look at them. F. Gary Gray had an unreal opportunity with Straight Outta Compton, but it’s mostly all squandered in lieu of trying to draw out the emotions of fans by focusing on the drama of the beef between Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and so on. Even further, MC Ren and DJ Yella (as well as Arabian Prince who was a part of the group for a short time) are almost non-existent, other than a few choice scenes where they’re heard speaking. So it’s a shame all around. There’s not enough to justify this as some great biopic.
In reality, Straight Outta Compton does not live up to the hype, in any way, shape, or form. I’d go so far as to say I’ll probably never watch this again. Not worth the price of admission whatsoever, certainly not for a true fan. I’m actually sad and letdown by this film’s failure to live up to what I’d expected. Silly me, though. As soon as I learned Dre and Cube produced this, I knew there would be trouble. When the story is told by those who lived it, especially if there are tough and at times disturbing nuances, we’re not always granted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.