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Straight Outta Compton: Unrated Director’s Cut (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 24, 2016 by  



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N.W.A.’s music was significant and they inspired a social revolution.  And as for the film, F. Gary Gray’s “Straight Outta Compton” is no doubt a masterpiece and it’s a film that I highly recommend!

Image courtesy of (C) 2016 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.


TITLE: Straight Outta Compton: Unrated Director’s Cut

FILM RELEASE: 2015

DURATION: 2 hrs. 47 Min. (Director’s Cut), 2 Hrs. 27 Min. (Theatrical Version)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 Aspect Ratio), English, Espanol, French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0, Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Espanol

COMPANY: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

RATED: R (Language Throughout, Strong Sexuality, Nudity, Violence and Drug Use)

Release Date: January 19, 2016


Directed by F. Gary Gray

Screenplay by Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff

Story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Berloff

Executive Producers: David Engel, Jon Jashni, Adam Merims, William Packer, Bill Strauss, Thomas Tull

Produced by Matt Alvarez, Scott Bernstein, Dr. Dre, F. Gary Gray, Ice Cube, Tomica Woods-Wright

Co-Executive Producer: S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus

Associate Producer: Darrell Jackson

Music by Joseph Trapanese

Cinematography by Mattew Libatique

Edited by Billy Fox, Michael Tronick

Casting by Victoria Thomas, Cindy Tolan

Production Design by Shane Valentino

Art Direction by Christopher Brown

Set Decoration by Christopher Carlson, Jeffrey Kushon

Costume Design by Kelli Jones


Starring:

O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube

Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre

Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E

Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella

Aldis Hodge as MC Ren

Marlon Yates Jr. as D.O.C.

R. Marcos Taylor as Suge Knight

Carra Patterson as Tomica

Alexandra Shipp as Kim

Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller

Elena Goode as Nicole

Keith Powers as Tyree


Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how 5 young men, using brutally honest rhymes, put their anger about life into the most powerful weapon they had: their music.


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N.W.A., the controversial West Coast hip hop group which took America by storm (positively and negatively) with gangsta rap, featuring profanity and violent lyrics, especially towards law enforcement.

Featuring members Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, the group rapped about their reality living in Compton, California and South Central Los Angeles.  The group would eventually form N.W.A. in 1986 and with the release of their debut album “Straight Outta Compton” in 1988, the album sold over three million copies and made triple platinum.

But things took a turn for the worse and lyricist and rapper Ice Cube would leave the group to go solo and both N.W.A. and Ice Cube would launch songs against each other.

And as other members would find success later on, talks of a reunion would never become a reality due to the death of Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, who died of AIDS in 1995.

In 2015, filmmaker F. Gary Gray (“The Italian Job”, “Law Abiding Citizen”, “The Negotiator”) and writers Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff (“World Trade Center”, “The Legend of Conan”) would create a biopic based on the group about the group before their debut, what happened during the N.W.A. run, problems between the members, Eazy-E’s death and what happened the group since becoming members of N.W.A.

The film would star O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s real son), Corey Hawkins (“Non-Stop”, “Iron Man 3”), Jason Mitchell (“Contraband”, “Broken City”, “Texas Killing Fields”), Neil Brown Jr. (“Fast & Furious”, “Battle Los Angeles”, “Never Back Down”), Aldis Hodge (“Leverage”, “Die Hard: With a Vengeance”) and Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”, “The illusionist”, “Cinderella Man”).

The film would receive critical praise and the $28 million film would go on to make over $200 million in the box office.


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VIDEO:

“Straight Outta Compton” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1 aspect ratio).  The film looks absolutely awesome in HD as the film showcases detail from skin to clothing textures.  Picture quality is fantastic and I saw no artifacts or banding during my viewing of the film.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Straight Outta Compton” is presented in English, Espanol and French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 2.0 and English DVS 2.0.  The film sounds fantastic HD as dialogue and music is crystal clear.  Music utilizes bass and really does a great job of utilizing the entire soundscape.  Meanwhile, there are action sequences as LAPD breaking down a crack house or Ice Cube wanting to make his point clear at Priority Records.  Needless to say, audiophiles should be quite pleased with the overall soundtrack.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Espanol and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“Straight Outta Compton” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Audio commentary with director F. Gary Gray
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring six deleted scenes.
  • N.W.A. The Origins – (3:49) N.W.A. members and cast members discuss the group, the music and the making of the film.
  • Impact – (1:35) N.W.A. and cast talk about the cultural impact of N.W.A.
  • Director’s Journey – (3:22) Background on re-creating the LA Riots sequence for the film.
  • The Streets: Filming in Compton – (6:03) A featurette about shooting the Compton sequence.
  • N.W.A. Performs in Detroit – (4:54) N.W.A. members discuss “F*** the Police” and the making of the Detroit concert sequence.
  • Becoming N.W.A. – (8:30) A featurette about the casting of the actors.

EXTRAS:

“Straight Outta Compton” comes with a slipcover and Ultraviolet code.


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When I was a young teen and relocated to Long Beach, I remember KDAY being played by the driver on the bus, every morning, on my way to school.

And I remember hearing two songs that really got everyone hyped up….JJ Fad’s “Supersonic” and Eazy-E’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood”.  It was my first exposure to gangsta rap, considering that I grew up listening to East Coast rap and the only West Coast rap I listened to at the time was LA Dream Team.

But I absolutely was captivated by the music because it was unlike anything I listened to.  Considering that most hip hop I was listening to at the time was Public Enemy, LL Cool J and Run DMC. And the lyrics had substance, true meaning and was controversial because it was their reality.  Controversy back in the late ’80s prior to N.W.A., controversy about rap music was primary lyric-driven and situated around 2 Live Crew.

But N.W.A. took things farther and it was the reflection of society.

And I can remember when I went with new friends to World Famous VIP Records and picked up “N.W.A. and the Posse” on vinyl and cassette and “8 Ball” and “Dope Man” would be listened to all day by me and friends.

The following year, for me it was all about Compton’s Rodney-O & Joe Cooley’s “Me and Joe” and N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton”, but it was N.W.A.’s lyrics that me and friends gravitated to.

We would rap the lyrics at school and back in the day, N.W.A. was all that me and my friends would listen to.

But then Ice Cube left and I remembered being confused as hell, of why Cube would leave the group and then the back-and-forth attacks, it seemed pretty messed and fierce, but at the same time I wasn’t surprised.  But I was surprised years later to find out that Eazy-E was dying and to see him succumb to AIDS.  It was a sad day in music, because no matter how much controversy N.W.A. brought

And as we watched and see how the guys would have their own success outside of N.W.A. and now with Dr. Dre and Ice Cube now reaching success in other endeavors.

Needless to say, I’ve read articles of the troubles the group experienced but after all these years, nothing brought the memories of the past back, none other than F. Gary Gray’s biopic “Straight Outta Compton”.

The biopic (which was inspired by true events) would begin with introducing viewers to Eric “Eazy-E” Wright (portrayed by Jason Mitchell), a drug dealer escaping a police raid on a crack house.

We are then introduced to O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (portrayed by O’Shea Jackson Jr.) looking outside his school bus and constantly writing rap lyrics.  He witnesses gang members stop their school bus after students were teasing the gangsters and all getting a warning from the gangsters that they could be killed.

As for Andrew “Dr. Dre” Young (portrayed by Corey Hawkins), his dreams are becoming a popular DJ.  But when his mother and him get an argument over him not going to school and looking for a job, Dre leaves home to live with his girlfriend and child.

But when Dr. Dre, DJ Yella (portrayed by Neil Brown Jr.) and Ice Cube perform at a friend’s club in Compton, they get Eazy-E and MC Ren (portrayed by Aldis Hodge) to consider forming a group and releasing a song.  And with goals to make it big, the group are often accosted by the LAPD for no reason.

And needing another rapper, they get Eazy-E to produce a track titled “Boyz-n-the Hood” which becomes a major hit and putting Eazy-E’s company, Ruthless Records on top.

The song attracts music manager/producer Jerry Heller (portrayed by Paul Giamatti) to approach Eazy-E to sign with him and he’ll make them big.  Eazy-E would be in charge of the business and Jerry would be an employee and make them huge.  And eventually, the group is signed to a deal with Priority Records.

And with the release of “Straight Outta Compton”, N.W.A. receives negative publicity from news outlets of the group glorifying gangs and violence against police.

And the publicity works to their favor as many albums are purchased and many people turning out to their concerts nationwide.

But as Eazy-E and Jerry begin to make money, other members of the group are not receiving any money which concerns “Ice Cube” as he was responsible for writing half of the lyrics for “Straight Outta Compton”.

This causes division in N.W.A. as Ice Cube pursues a solo career.  And this would lead to a spiraling downfall for N.W.A., but would take the careers of the members to different heights.

“Straight Out Compton: Unrated Director’s Cut” features both the Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version of the film.  With the Director’s Cut, you get 20 extra minutes and personally, I enjoyed both versions.  Although I give a much bigger nod to the Unrated Director’s Cut which I enjoyed a lot.

The Blu-ray releases features wonderful picture and audio quality.  And there are also a good number of special features included, especially an in-depth audio commentary by F. Gary Gray.

Watching “Straight Outta Compton”, I absolutely enjoyed this film.  Not only does it do a great job of showing us how these group of guys came together and would pioneer gangsta rap but would eventually would go on to bigger projects in their career, we also see the dangerous side.  From the dispute on contracts which would lead Ice Cube of leaving N.W.A. but also destroying Priority Records, Dr. Dre joining Suge Knight and creating Deathrow Records but also leading up to Eazy-E’s death and the N.W.A. reunion that never came to be.

It’s a shame that “Straight Outta Compton” did not receive any Oscar nominations. The performances by nearly every major cast member is fantastic.  O’Shea Jackson Jr. did a magnificent job of playing Ice Cube, but Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell and Paul Giamatti were also phenomenal in this film.

In a way, the film remains relevant today as police corruption is becoming prevalent in today’s news, race relations and insensitivity has become a significant discussion.

N.W.A.’s music was significant and they inspired a social revolution.  And as for the film, F. Gary Gray’s “Straight Outta Compton” is no doubt a masterpiece and it’s a film that I highly recommend!

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