Given that N.W.A. members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are producers of the film about the group that made them superstars, it’s no surprise that Straight Outta Compton cleans up their story a bit for public consumption. Even so, Compton is a solid biopic about the passion that created N.W.A. and the arguments that tore them apart. Growing up in Compton California, where drug busts and police harassment is a daily occurrence, Andre “Dr. Dre Dre” Young (Corey Hawkins), is a talented DJ under pressure to earn money to support his baby. A natural poet, O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) can drop a lyric on a dime and Eric “Eazy-E” Wright (Jason Mitchell) is the hustler who can provide the money for their first recording. Yes, Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.) were members of N.W.A. but they’ve been relegated to the background in this film.

The best part of the film covers their early years. As the young men form their relationships and develop the sound that would become familiar to millions. Even as they caught the eye of shady manager Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), who used his contacts to land them a contract with Priority Records, they were harassed by police during the recording of “Straight Outta Compton” outside the studio.

Despite not being radio friendly, “Straight Outta Compton” was an immediate hit, sending the group out on tour to play to packed houses. From there, resentment sets in when group members see that Jerry treats Easy-E better than he treats them. Members leave, the remaining members express their displeasure on record, a dis war ensues. Meanwhile, Dr. Dre has some really bad dudes looking to snatch a piece of his ever expanding empire.

In many ways, Straight Outta Compton is typical of biopics in terms of structure, it excels when it comes to the music and the casting. N.W.A’. s music is still so instinctive that the film’s performances (either in the recording booth or on stage) pack a punch. There’s also a lot of great classic tunes that help set the scene and keep things moving.

Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., makes his acting debut here. The spitting image of his dad, he gives the film an immediate authenticity. As Dre, Corey Hawkins (Non-stop, Iron Man 3) Corey Hawkins is asked to handle a couple of deeply emotional scenes—particularly the death of his younger brother Tyree—which devastates him, but also fuels his need to succeed. Jason Mitchell seems to become Easy-E, disappearing, being his ever present black shades and Compton baseball cap, yet giving the character an unexpected soft side.

The confluence of events that led to the success of N.W.A. and their signature album” Straight Out of Compton” is an interesting story to be sure and director F. Gary Gray has done a wonderful job bringing it to the screen. As with most biopics, Straight Out of Compton comes highly recommended with the understanding that some elements of the ‘true’ story have been altered for the screen.

Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Universal has provided an excellent 1080p transfer. Clarity and sharpness are top notch, as is object detail. This is a dark film, but when flashes of color show up, they really shine through. Color saturation is strong and black levels are spot on. I noticed only slight banding in a few shots.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is completely immersive, with exceptional depth. Dialogue is crytal clear throughout and never drowned out by the numerous musical cues. Musical tracks are wonderful mixed and are as important to the viewing process as anything else.

English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles are included.

The disc includes two cuts of the film: an extended cut (2:46:44 runtime) and the theatrical cut (2:26:44). The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary with Director/Producer F. Gary Gray: Gray offers an informative a perceptive discussion of the film, including the casting, production, filming, music, themes and more. This is a must listen for fans of the film or N.W.A., as Gray shares all sorts of interesting tidbits.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD) Into the Recording Studio (0:16), Funeral (0:21), Pasadena City Jail (0:26), Nicole Visits Dre (2:38), Reunited (1:23), and Dre Gets a Call (0:36).
  • Deleted Song Performance (HD,1:28) A performance of Compton’s N the House from an N.W.A. concert.
  • W.A. The Origins (HD, 3:49) The actual N.W.A. members, cast and crew, discuss the group and its early works, and briefly discuss making the film.
  • Impact (HD, 1:35) The actual members of N.W.A, cast and crew reflect on the group’s work and cultural impact.
  • Director’s Journey (HD, 3:22) A look at the making of the riots sequence and the real history behind it.
  • The Streets: Filming in Compton (1080p, 6:03) A look at filming a key scene in Compton.
  • W.A Performs in Detroit (HD, 4:54): Actual N.W.A. members discuss F*** the Police and then the piece looks at the making of the Detroit concert sequence.
  • Becoming N.W.A. (HD, 8:30) A look at casting authentic actors and what they brought to the film’s key roles.
  • DVD copy of the film.
  • UV/iTunes digital copy.