- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2016

A powerful musical force received a dramatic celebration last year through director F. Gary Gray’s potent biographical film. Straight Outta Compton: Unrated Director’s Cut, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, $34.98, 167 minutes) arrives on Blu-ray to give fans an extended reason to repeatedly revisit and appreciate the power of N.W.A.

Specifically, Mr. Gray takes us back to the rise and fall of this 1980s gangsta rap super group with a director’s cut adding about 20 to the theatrical release.

The film pulls no punches in relaying the difficult life and meeting of Ice Cube (played angrily by Mr. Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.).

Actor Paul Giammati also shines as the group’s manager Jerry Heller, portrayed as a father-figure-type character to Eazy-E but with possible ulterior motives.

The action often delivers potent live performances from the group highlighting lyrics that explore the drug, violence, sex and realities of black youth living in the streets of south Los Angeles in the 1980s.

Watching what surrounds the group during that time, including the Rodney King beating, it’s hard not to painfully reflect on the current state of race relations in the United States.

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It’s also appalling to consider that no matter what band origin’s movie I have seen, shady deals once again reveal the questionable practices of the music industry and how it treats talent.

Although I am not a fan of the musical genre, it’s hard not to appreciate the jolting, sonic assault of the song performances through the Blu-ray bass heavy DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Extras include the theatrical version of the film, five deleted scenes, and about 30 minutes of featurettes covering the productions and offering interviews with the original members of the group.

Also, and most important, is the optional commentary track with Mr. Gray recorded after the film’s successful release. He offers important historical context to the street scenes throughout, with near non-stop insight that dissects the film, his life and the inner-city culture.

By the way, how did “Straight Outta Compton” get completely ignored for this year’s Academy Awards?

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