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?
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 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.
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Also Opening This Week In Limited Release