So... my first post release thread!
I had the opportunity to go to the world premiere on 8/10/15 at the Microsoft Theater. F. Gary Gray, Dre, Yella, Cube, and Ren were present and gave a little speech before the movie, with a very loving tribute to Eazy E. The movie clocks in about two and a half hours, which is probably 45 minutes too long.
The opening scene of the movie is straight out of the Cary Fukunaga playbook, with Eazy E scrambling to escape a drug deal that goes wrong. Very reminiscent of the drug bust scene in True Detective. From that point on, the movie uses NWA's music as a propulsive force, barreling through the group's meteoric rise. There are a few tender moments in the movie that humanize the NWA members, but this is clearly an exercise in hagiography. The most "gangsta" moment of the movie is when Cube smashes a record exec's office, which at this point is just a trope in music biopics.
The movie loses steam right around the time of the LA riots and the Rodney King verdict. At that point, it's just checking off boxes until Eazy E's demise of AIDS-related complications. But it coasts on the good will built by the emotionally true first half of the movie. With a little more editing, this could have been great. Gray said his first cut came in at three and a half hours. I have no idea what else he could have covered that didn't play in the movie. You could have excised whole scenes from the latter half of the movie and not lost a beat.
One thing I didn't expect was how resonant the experiences of NWA's members would be to what's going on today in terms of police brutality/abuse against minorities. The scenes are powerful and when Cube first raps Fuck Tha Police, you really get pissed and can't but remember that this is still a problem that hasn't been addressed. We've made zero progress, and you could even say we've slid backwards.
Ice Cube's son is great at playing his father, as are the actors who play Eazy E and Dre. Ren and Yella are more or less non-entities.
The premiere itself was massive. It was great to see people who lived through that time there. Although I almost had a stroke from the cognitive dissonance--the guys who wrote Fuck Tha Police are being celebrated with a multi-million dollar tent pole and an expensive premiere, paid for by a major American public company.
All in all, worth watching with a full theater. NWA's music pumped at full volume can't but make it a great movie-going experience.
YT, I think you won't be disappointed.