Critics Consensus

Straight Outta Compton Is A Powerful Biopic

Plus, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is slight but fun, and Difficult People is Certified Fresh.

by | August 13, 2015 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got hip-hop legends (Straight Outta Compton, starring O’shea Jackson, Jr. and Corey Hawkins) and Cold War super spies (The Man From U.N.C.L.E., starring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer). What do the critics have to say?


Straight Outta Compton (2015) 89%

N.W.A.’s revolutionary blend of provocative lyrics, sophisticated production, and self-mythology continues to reverberate across the pop culture landscape.  Critics say Straight Outta Compton is an energetic document of the distinct personalities (and social conditions) that made the group hip-hop royalty — without succumbing to hagiography. The film primarily focuses on wordsmith Ice Cube (Cube’s real-life son O’shea Jackson, Jr.), studio genius Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and hustler-cum-rapper Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), as they rise from Compton celebrities to controversial chart toppers before suffering at the hands of the music biz and personal acrimony. The pundits say Straight Outta Compton doesn’t stray too far from biopic conventions, but the performances, the settings, and (especially) the music are powerful enough to delight old fans and newcomers alike.


The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015) 68%

The world isn’t exactly hurting for stylish retro spy flicks (or remakes of old TV shows, for that matter), but critics say you could do a lot worse than The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a breezy, picturesque tale of intrigue with an attractive cast and a charming sense of humor. Two agents — American Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and Soviet Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) — team up to stop a mysterious criminal organization that threatens both nations.  They get an assist from Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), an East German mechanic who has an inside track on how to infiltrate the gang. The pundits say The Man From U.N.C.L.E. isn’t in the same league as the Mission: Impossible movies, but director Guy Ritchie keeps things moving at a brisk pace, and the period clothes, sets, and vehicles provide plenty of vintage eye candy.


What’s Hot on TV

True Detective: Season 2 (2015) 62%

In True Detective‘s second season, memorable moments and intriguing characters bump up against an inconsistent tone and an overabundance of plot threads.


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Strike Back‘s final season promises a big finish fueled by compelling characters and sensational video game-style action.


Difficult People: Season 1 (2015) 88%

Difficult People makes the unlikable likable with mean-spirited, unhappy characters who still can’t help but amuse.


Also Opening This Week In Limited Release

  • Meru (2015) , a documentary about an attempt to scale one of India’s most treacherous peaks, is at 92 percent.
  • Tom at the Farm (2013) , a thriller about a young man whose presence at his deceased boyfriend’s funeral elicits strong emotions from the dead man’s brother, is Certified Fresh at 80 percent.
  • Noah Baumbach‘s  Mistress America (2015) , starring Greta Gerwig in a comedy about a  college freshman whose soon-to-be stepsister leads her on a series of adventures, is at 79 percent.
  • Fort Tilden (2014) , a comedy about two self-absorbed Brooklynites who take an ill-fated trip to the beach, is at 79 percent.
  • People, Places, Things (2015) , starring Jemaine Clement and Regina Hall in a comedy about a man navigating both single parenthood and the big-city dating scene, is at 77 percent.
  • Fort Tilden (2014) , a comedy about two self-absorbed Brooklynites who take an ill-fated trip to the beach, is at 77 percent.
  • Prince (2015) , a drama about a troubled teenager who falls in with a local criminal in order to attract the attention of his dream girl, is at 63 percent.
  • The Boy (2015) , starring David Morse and Rainn Wilson in a dark drama about a nine-year-old with a disturbing propensity for violent acts, is at 50 percent.
  • Final Girl (2015) , starring Abigail Breslin in a thriller about a young woman who turns the table on a group of boys who try to hunt her for sport, is at 43 percent.
  • Amnesiac (2014) , starring Kate Bosworth and Wes Bentley in a psychological thriller about a man who awakes from an auto accident with memory loss and a suspicion that the woman claiming to be his wife isn’t who she says she is, is at 40 percent.
  • Big Sky (2015) , starring Bella Thorne and Kyra Sedgwick in a thriller about an agoraphobic teenager who must overcome her fears in order to survive an attack by violent thieves, is at 40 percent.
  • One & Two (2015) , starring Kiernan Shipka and Elizabeth Reaser in a drama about a pair of siblings who use their supernatural abilities to escape their repressive home life, is at 40 percent.
  • Return to Sender (2015) , starring Rosamund Pike and Nick Nolte in a thriller about a woman seeking revenge after surviving a brutal assault, is at 11 percent.

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