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Courtney B. Vance
Written and Produced by R. Kelly
Performed by Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks
Whitney Houston appears courtesy of Arista Records/RCA Records
Jordin Sparks appears courtesy of 19 Recordings Limited/RAC Records See more »
Was not hyped about new "Sparkle" and didn't really want to see but we did this am. Glad we only paid $6.00, not worth much more. Film wasn't able to capture original's essence; the important cautionary tale of stardom. Houston purchased rights to script in late 90s and was going to make it a Aaliyah vehicle. This would have worked perfectly as Aaliyah had a strong acting talent; Jordin Sparks can't act nor does she have any 'star quality', certainly not enough to carry this film. Film was in preproduction when Aaliyah died so it was placed on hold.
Main problem is the writing. In trying to update script, writers mover location from Harlem to Detroit and time from late 50s to 1968. Fine; writing however was lacking big-time. I think they wanted to capture "Sparkle" with a touch of "The Five Heartbeats" and they failed. Dialog was dry, boring, and over done. Not surprising as the production team is the creators of The Game. "Sparkle"/"Five Heartbeats" made you care about the characters, not here. Add to bad writing, bad editing; it was more like a music video and you never felt like it was 1968 since all the costumes weren't authentic and looked like they were merely retro copies. The camera angles used were so slick that it came off as overdone. I think they forgot that in 1968 we weren't wireless. We needed Mic's, amps, and full bands, not synthesizers and computers. Most of the performances were displayed without any equipment. I guess film makers don't understand less is more. They also tweaked the most important and crucial element of the story (ie Sister's OD) which completely made the ending unbelievable and you felt like the lesson of the story was lost and never learned. It was strange watching one other thing about the film; the removal of it's black culture. The writers mention the race riots 2x in film but depict Detroit as being beautifully multicultural. All scenes have a nice balance of multi-ethnicities intermixing and socializing w/each other. It was like watching the Houston "Cinderella". The mixed cultures used there was intentional to remove the idea of race, but here it sticks out especially since one of the original story lines was about the civil rights movement. The writers only touched on this briefly and simultaneously on the dysfunctional family element during one scene. It was very sad to see and completely unrealistic of the time period.
Next of course is casting. I love artists who are 'triple' threats but they must be masters in all the elements of entertainment. I'm not a big fan of hiring singers to act and this film displays why. Sparks was exceptionally weak as Sparkle. First and foremost this is a black story about a black family. Like Carra and McKee, Sparks is mixed but where the aforementioned women are decidedly "women of color" (culturally) , Sparks is obviously more "white". I am not referring to her appearance but to her manner. Anyone who knows Lonette McKee knows exactly what I am talking about. Sparks tone of speech, delivery of lines, and lack of a natural rhythm stuck out b/c of this difference. Surprisingly Houston actually delivered the strongest of the women. God rest her soul, Houston wasn't always thought the best actress but she came out well here. Her acting was it's strongest since "Bodyguard" maybe b/c was telling her own story about the trappings of success. It's very obvious the production was expanded to showcase her scenes a/f her death. Her only song is in it's entirely w/o any edits. Supporting cast (the men) is stronger which helps the ladies but since the writing isn't there, it's all for moot.
Music- Where to begin? R. Kelly, sorry you are not Curtis Mayfield. Film is set in Motown 68, music shouldn't like 2012. Closing tracks, "One Wing" and "Love Will" sound way too much like today. Kelly needs some more throwback if he's really going to take this to Broadway. His arrangement of "Something He Can Feel" was nothing more than an EnVogue cover. I was left wondering if he's heard Aretha's original masterpiece.
All I can say don't go expecting have the same sentimental feeling for the original, you won't. I was hoping this would be so good that I wouldn't compare it to the original. Instead, I sat through this film wishing I were home watching my DVD of the original. Ulimately this film focuses too much on appearance and not enough on substance, much like our society today. It lacks the serious heart and empathy of it's predecessor.
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