Biography Blu-ray Review

'Straight Outta Compton' Blu-ray Review: From the streets to the studio

January 21, 2016Ben MK

Today, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are music icons who have also conquered the worlds of acting and consumer electronics. However, three decades ago they were just teenagers trying to survive the dangerous streets of Compton. That is, until they decided to form N.W.A. Now the group's turbulent career is being chronicled in director F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton, a film that depicts the dramatic rise — and in one case, the tragic fall — of the California rappers.

Straight Outta Compton is by no means an exhaustively thorough biopic. In fact, you can basically think of it as a greatest hits compilation, hitting all the key moments throughout N.W.A's history. Casting O'Shea Jackson Jr. as his father O'Shea Jackson (aka Ice Cube), Corey Hawkins as Andre Young (aka Dr. Dre), Jason Mitchell as Eric Wright (aka Eazy-E), Neil Brown Jr. as Antoine Carraby (aka DJ Yella) and Aldis Hodge as Lorenzo Patterson (aka MC Ren), the movie spans seven years, beginning with N.W.A's inception in 1986 and ending with the untimely death of one of its members in 1993.

In between, there's no shortage of drama to fill the film's nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time (or nearly three hours, if you happen to be watching the Unrated Director's Cut). From reenactments of the group's many iconic performances, to an infamous scuffle with Detroit police while on their 1989 tour, to the instances of infighting and the clashes with manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), it's all here, complete with appearances from actors portraying the likes of Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Suge Knight, as well as a brief recreation of the most pivotal historical event of the time, the L.A. riots.

Fans expecting the movie to give equal treatment to every member of N.W.A, however, may be somewhat disappointed. For while the early portions of the movie focus on the rise of the group, the film ultimately becomes "The Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E Show" as the narrative eventually drops DJ Yella and MC Ren altogether, in favor of showcasing Ice Cube's post-split feud with the group, Dr. Dre's struggle to form his own label, and Eazy-E's financial problems. Still, Straight Outta Compton proves to be a riveting biopic, capturing the spirit of N.W.A with startling authenticity.

Straight Outta Compton comes straight into your living room with an excellent 1080p transfer that features razor-sharp detail, rich hues and strong contrast levels, whether it's the dusty garage where Eazy-E records Boyz-In-the-Hood or the strobe lights of Skateland, where N.W.A gives one of their early performances. An otherwise flawless transfer, the image does however suffer from a visible lack of shadow detail, which is a minor problem that's most apparent in a late-film conversation between Eazy-E and Jerry Heller. Luckily, this is a concern that's offset by the movie's fantastic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix, which delivers crystal-clear dialogue as well as bass-thumping rap, R&B and funk music, not to mention the occasional wail of sirens and noises like the commotion caused by a police battering ram.

Universal's two-disc Blu-ray release includes an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy, a DVD and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (5:41) - Six scenes ("Into the Recording Studio," "Funeral," "Pasadena City Jail," "Nicole Visits Dre," "Reunited" and "Dre Gets a Call").
  • Deleted Song Performance (1:28) - A deleted on-stage performance from the movie.
  • N.W.A The Origins (3:49) - A look at the beginnings of the rap group, featuring interviews with the surviving members alongside key moments from the film.
  • Impact (1:35) - A brief look at the impact of N.W.A, with soundbites from the group, director F. Gary Gray and the film's cast.
  • Director's Journey (3:22) - A look at the film's recreation of the L.A. riots.
  • The Streets: Filming in Compton (6:03) - A look behind-the-scenes at the filming of select scenes on-location in Compton, California, as well in South Central Los Angeles.
  • N.W.A Performs in Detroit (4:54) - A look at the making of the key scene in which N.W.A performs "F*** the Police" in Detroit.
  • Becoming N.W.A (8:30) - Profiles of the young actors portraying the members of N.W.A.
  • Feature Commentary with Director/Producer F. Gary Gray - Gray talks about the film's themes, the production design, the actors' performances, the music, the real-life characters and their story, the filming of various scenes and more.

Straight Outta Compton is available from Universal Home Entertainment as of January 19th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French and Spanish DTS 5.1, and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 2 Hrs. 27 Mins. (Theatrical Cut) and 2 Hrs. 47 mins. (Unrated Director's Cut).

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