I know...but don't roll your eyes just yet at my perfect score. The genius direction of veteran director F. Gary Gray just gave us something very rare.
This isn't just a movie, behind them is West Coast Hip Hop history...
I went in last night with a sold out crowd, everyone kept yelling at the previews to hurry and end so we could get to the movie. The anticipation was insane and you could feel it. Universals logo appeared over the giant screen...applause erupted.
This movie guys...just wow...its a movie so good you wonder how it even was possible to make such a thing.
It covers 10 years of their journey and I'm not going to dissect it all due to it having so many details and character involvements, i don't want to give anything up away too much for anyone and ruin it so instead ill give you the gist of it plus if you're a real Hip Hop head then you already know the story pretty much.
It starts out showing us how Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube came up in Compton. It shows their friendship and hustles. It shows the spark that created the leap to their own group NWA and how the labels came about (Ruthless, Priority, Deathrow, Interscope and Aftermath) in the process. It shows the fall outs over money, the personal challenges and how to stay true to yourself without losing those around you.
For me as a fan of their music from the 90's as a kid with the worn out cassette tapes from playing them too much, i sat with a smile for the full 2 hours and 30 minutes, as it had no pacing issues whatsoever. It connected so many dots from the stories we've all heard. Dre's brothers death? Covers it. How Dre got tied up into Deathrow? Covers it. How Snoop and Dre came out with 'Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang'? Covers it. Easy-E's Aids battle? Covers it. Suge's assault on people? Covers it. You want the one and only Tupac? Covers it! See where I'm going with this? This is going to give you everything you can ask for i promise.
The cast mostly of fresh faces is a huge welcome onscreen and each one goes over and beyond for their role but the real stars that stole every scene was Cubes own son O'Shea Jackson Jr and Jason Mitchell who plays the late great Eazy-E.
O'Shea Jackson Jr - Ice Cube
Jason Mitchell - Eazy-E
Corey Hawkins - Dr. Dre
Neil Brown Jr - Dj Yella
Aldis Hodge - MC Ren
Marlon Yates Jr - The D.O.C.
R. Marcus Taylor - Suge Knight
Paul Giamatti - Jerry Heller
Some people may think O'Shea got the role handed to him due to being Cubes son. Wrong. He didn't even want the role at first but after 2 years of dedication to it, he felt he was capable of delivering the performance and it worked. You'll see.
Lil Eazy, Eazy-E's real life son didn't make the cut to play Eazy himself due to not being able to dive into that emotional core needed for the devastating Aids segment that comes later so instead helped coach Mitchell on it. He not only too looks the part but he killed the role. He's funny, sincere, aggressive, belligerent, greedy, loving, helpless. He embodied the character and at one point had everyones eyes watering up, me too, ill admit it. Thats when you know you have a good actor, when you can invest in them and really FEEL something.
Theres the music aspect of it to enjoy immensely and for any inspiring artist its great to watch and learn from. Dre's always had a professional work ethic and he's where he's at now in the Billionaire status for a very valid reason so it was great to see how his journey came full circle in the end and you'll have nothing but respect for him in the end if you already don't right now. The soundtrack itself is provided mostly by Dre's newest album after 16 years... Compton, a album that coincides with this film along with the old classic NWA tracks of course and even some of Cubes stand alone hits. They all fit so seamlessly together in a perfect woven pattern delivering the energy needed.
Another part to take away from it is the social aspect of it, its alarmingly relevant to what we're dealing with today unfortunately. The film itself covers the LA riots at one point and a lot of racial issues mostly geared towards to LAPD at the time and given i live here myself and have friends that have personally dealt with profiling and worse, it was infuriating, unsettling and scary to watch knowing its only a movie but it really happened and on top of it the only thing dividing us from them was the building of the theatre itself we were in. The fact that times haven't changed much at all in that regard is atrocious.
Aside from some darker toned moments, its often comedic between the banter of the guys and found the perfect balance to where nothing stood out or didn't belong. Everything was tailor made to impress and that it does.
This movie comes exactly 20 years after Eazy's passing and i think he'd be proud. Not just of the film itself or the rave reviews and attention its getting. Not the possible reunion tour of NWA. Not the new fans discovering their music for the first time. He'd be proud that everyone is still connected, a family in the best sense they can be after all of these years. It was always about the brotherhood and doing what you love to do, the right way...your way.