Straight Outta Compton (2015)

straightDirector: F Gary Gray

Writer: Jonathan Herman, Andrea Berloff (Screenplay) S Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus, Andrea Beroff (Story)

Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge, Marlon Yates Jr, R Marcos Taylor, Carra Patterson, Alexandra Shipp, Paul Giamatti

 

Plot: The group NWA emerges from the mean streets of Compton in Los Angeles, California, in the mid-1980s and revolutionizes Hip Hop culture with their music and tales about life in the hood.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Important but Long Bio-Pic

 

Story: Straight Outta Compton starts by introducing us to all our five main players and where they are at their life early on Ice Cube (Jackson Jr), Eazy-E (Mitchell), DJ Yella (Brown Jr) and MC Ren (Hodge), each one of these dreams of being more and they all have talent but the neighbourhood they are in makes this difficult for them. Dr Dre (Hawkins) is the well-respected popular rapper from the neighbourhood who continues to live around looking for new music.

When Eazy-E meets Jerry Heller (Giamatti) he offers to take a chance on the NWA promising to take them to the main stream. With NWA taking the world by storm we see the early divides within the group as they all look to make something for themselves but Gangster Rap becomes the biggest thing in America.

The rivalries between the crew becomes clear when Ice Cube goes solo and the rest of the NWA learns that not everything is as clear as they believe it to be as they all want to become the main attraction in the industries which will lead to devastating consequences.

Straight Outta Compton is a film that surrounded the Oscars as one of the missed opportunity to be diverse but watching it I found myself thinking it didn’t deserve to be in the Oscar contention. This doesn’t help that I am not a big fan of the style of music or the attitude this can give show people from the neighbourhood to be. The other use of the ‘N’ word throughout the film gives us what can be seen as the problem with a racial divide. The story off the rise of a small-time rap group is interesting and seeing how they got divided but remain respectful but are the only ones who know what they need to do to get out of the trouble making neighbourhood.

The acting is all top notch from what is nearly all an unknown cast at the time in the NWA roles even with the heavyweight performance from Giamatti ones again. I will say this film is too long because we spend well over an hour just dealing with the parties but the interesting side of the story comes from the divide and consequences between these now icons of music.

 

Overall: Great look into the world even if it is over glamorising certain points of the careers.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Director: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Writer: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly (Screenplay) John Gatins (Story)

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John C Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell

 

Plot: A team of scientists explore an uncharted island in the Pacific, venturing into the domain of the mighty Kong, and must fight to escape a primal Eden.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Mindless Monster Mayhem

 

Story: Kong: Skull Island starts as we see an instant introduction to Kong during World War II, move forward to 1973 Bill Randa (Goodman) want to lead an expedition to the mysterious island in the Pacific Ocean, one that has only just been discovered by satellite images. Joined by his assistant Brooks (Hawkins) and a mapping team Randa puts together a unit to cover him if the stories are true.

The team includes tracker James Conrad (Hiddleston), photographer Mason Weaver (Larson), San (Jing) and army unit led by Preston Packard (Jackson). Upon arrive on the island Kong destroys all the helicopter killing half the unit, with the scientists looking for a way off the island and Packard out for revenge the two battle within as they face enemies they had never imagined including the monstrous Kong.

 

Thoughts on Kong: Skull Island

 

Characters/PerformanceConrad is a British tracker who we rarely see track, Weaver is a photographer who clashes with Packard a lot on the morale side of her job post-Vietnam, she isn’t just the damsel in distress though. Packard is a war-hero who I believe wasn’t a hero in war, he wants one more chance to go into a battle before returning home, as the film unfolds he does feel very similar to Pete Postlethwaite character in Jurassic Park 2. Bill knows more than he lets on but could be considered a businessman villain. Hank steals most of the scenes here, he is the former WWII pilot who has been stuck on the island for 28 years. Kong is a character all to his own, destroying anything that gets in his way while also showing the most emotion of any character in the film. we also have scientists who are forgettable, and soldiers who are giving basic banter to work with.

Performance wise, Hiddleston does struggling to make much of the poorly written character, Larson starts well but again her character is written weakly, Jackson does what Jackson does well without being his best, Goodman also doesn’t reach his potential while Reilly knows how to steal a movie with limited scenes. Most of the stars all struggle with the same problem, their characters are written very weakly.

StoryThe story here is fine, I liked that is wasn’t the same as the 30’s era trying to bring Kong back to New York, this is just a surveillance job turned race against time to survive. So, this is The Lost World with King Kong in the end. There isn’t too much to say good about the story because I found myself confused a lot, we had ONE ship with about SIX helicopters on it and sudden when they reach Skull Island there is about TWENTY helicopters, the same goes for the number of soldiers, one minute we have the FOUR we know and then when we need people to die there suddenly seems to be another group of disposable ones. These inconsistent annoyed me most.

Action/Adventure/FantasyThe action is very big and sure you can switch off and enjoy it all, the adventure is in the new world unseen and comes off fine throughout, the fantasy comes from battle what should be the impossible.

SettingsI did like that we kept all the action upon Skull Island, I feel this is important to creating the bigger universe they want to.

Special EffectsI also think the special effects are brilliant through the whole film and could barely tell the different between what is real or not.

Final ThoughtsThis is big bad and fun but I feel the character development comes off pointless in places because all we get is a sudden death to a character that doesn’t make sense or it is an unknown character killed to save ones we have got to know.

 

Overall: This will go down in the fun but not great action set piece.

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