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Before I begin reviewing the movie, I just want to say first that if
you haven't seen the original or didn't even know that there was an
original, you might not enjoy this movie as much as someone who
respects it's classic status in black cinema. I actually thought that
this movie was going to be terrible. I kept telling my roommate and
best friend that I'm not excited and might just watch it on bootleg and
if I do go to see it it will only be for the late and legendary Whitney
Houston. But thankfully I was invited on a date, so I was relieved that
I didn't have to pay for this terrible, terrible film. But to my
surprise, I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
As an upcoming writer and film school graduate, there are things about this film that I can truly appreciate more than the average movie goer, like the costumes, the set design, the hair, the locations, and most definitely the script. It was solid. For this to be Mara Brock Akil and her husband's very first feature film together, the script was very well written. It had a lot of memorable one liners and great comebacks. Also, the writer put a few spins on the story that worked very well as an adaption.
Jordin Sparks did very well as Sparkle. I don't think the character was a stretch for her because she's sweet and shy in real life but for this to be her first film she did great. Mike Epps as Satin was a surprise to me. He's usually the smart mouthed side kick in stereotypical black films but his personality played well with his character. Derek Luke was solid and Tika Sumpter was awesome. In the original, Sumpter's character didn't really have much of a story but I appreciated the fact that the writer's gave her a backstory. Whitney Houston did phenomenal as the mother. Her vibrant personality is totally opposite of the film's character who was depressed, unhappy and sort of narrow minded. But the star of the evening was definitely Carmen Ejogo as Sparkle's older and sexy sister, Sister. She stole the show. I had never heard of her until this movie but she was awesome. While the acting wasn't Oscar worthy everybody did a solid job.
The original definitely had its flaws. There were holes in the story and unanswered question but I feel as all movies back in the day were still finding their proper structure. But this adaption definitely left me satisfied. There was more character development, more backstory and since the the movie is about family the bond between all three sisters s what made me love this movie even more. You can tell that they all loved each other and would had each other's backs no matter what.
I'm happy that the original music was in this film along with new ones. The vocals were good but of course Whitney Houston dominated in that department being that she is one of the greatest voices to ever walk this Earth.
Overall, Sparkle was a solid movie. Very enjoyable family film. I have a feeling that a lot of people are gonna love this movie, a lot of people are think it's okay and a lot of people are going to hate it. But these types of movies aren't meant for everyone's enjoyment, only those who understand and appreciate this type of story. I recommend it for all who know the original, all who love good music and all who love Whitney.
This is a great, fun, enjoyable movie. It has everything: great lines
and killer comebacks, wit, excitement, suspense, drama, charged
emotions, great acting, a good story, beautiful cinematography, and of
course, the music rocks. It is way, way, way better than the original.
let me say that again in caps: IT IS WAY, WAY, WAY BETTER THAN THE
ORIGINAL. I was actually surprised it was so good, given the reviews. I
really did not want the movie to end. Afterwards, I found myself
wondering what the sisters would be doing 3 years later, and it's been
a long, long time since I've cared enough about any movie character to
think about them even 5 minutes after the movie. Sparkle delivers on
every level: script, cinematography, realism, acting, and singing.
On the acting front, Whitney Houston delivered a powerful, raw and completely revealing performance. She was Emma. Her figure, bearing, and presence are completely transformed from "legend," "Whitney Houston," to a bruised and weary woman who is determined that her babies will not lose their way as she did, and who is fighting with every ounce of her being for their futures. When you know how funny and filled with energy Houston could be, then you see her as this world-weary mother, fighting for her kids, you see how great an acting job she does. She fills the role completely. Her song, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, is the showstopper and anchors the movie perfectly. I cannot think of any singing/song scene in any movie that comes close to what Houston does here. This performance alone is more than worth the price of admission.
Mike Epps is another standout as Satin: he delivers a memorable, slick, cool, and lethal performance. All of the sisters are excellent! Tika Sumpter was really great, as was Carmen Ejogo, and though Jordin Sparks' character is the quiet sister, she works the role and is believable. There are no weak performances on the screen. And, it goes without saying that the music works perfectly. The three sisters are really smokin' hot on the stage, with Carmen Ejogo oozing sensuous sex-appeal.
Yes, this is a remake, and yes, its a popular theme, but just like fairy-tales that we enjoy listening to and telling over an over, you want to hear this story retold because it is so well done. There are strong male rolls, and lots of testosterone-driven tensions, and, of course, strong female roles. So, this movie works as a good date night movie, a good movie to see with friends, and as a good movie to see on your own.
This is not The Godfather and it's not Shakespeare, but it is a well done, enjoyable, emotionally satisfying movie. I highly recommend it. Thumbs way up!
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.
I thoroughly enjoyed this film!!! Jordin Sparks carried her own in the movie and when she sings "One Wing" is her ultimate shining moment in "Sparkle". Mike Epps as "Satin" is the best role of his career and kudos to the casting agent for giving him a chance w/ this role. I pray he receives a Oscar nomination.Carmen Ejogo as "Sister" was mesmerizing,radiant&stunning..A STAR IS BORN!!!! she also deserves a Oscar nomination..she was brilliant.Whitney Houston this woman can do no wrong.what an amazing woman!!.I LOVED her in this film,she played the role with such incredible poise & control..she was excellent!!! her scene singing "His Eyes Are On The Sparrow" was a tearjerker for sure everyone in the audience was crying and cheering at the same time.truly my favorite scene in the film!!!! I give this movie a solid A
What can I say about this movie besides the fact that it was the best that I have seen in a long time. Along with everyone else in my theater we all enjoyed the movie!Everyone did a fantastic job but the real screen stealers are Jordan,Tika, Mike, and of course Whitney! The only reason I seen this movie at first was for Whitney but after watching it I fell in love with it.You will be surprised in some scenes, some might make you want to cry, cheer the characters on , and the singing OMG is awesome. The movie might feel like it is starting off slow for some but after a few minutes the atmosphere changes and it's really enjoyable. It's just a great movie and Whitney definitely Sparkles in her last film.
Pop star Jordin Sparks stars alongside Whitney Houston (in her final
performance of what was supposed to be the second wind of her acting
career) in Sparkle, a remake of the 1976 cult hit among black
audiences. Conversely, the 2012 version, centred around a trio of
sisters who hit the big time in 1960s Motown before being crippled by
the lures of fame, is entirely devoid of any personality or soul,
playing out like every other African-American themed shambles this side
of Tyler Perry's repeated disasters.
Director Salim Akil (an apparent prodigy of Perry's stylings) breaths plastic life into the cardboard cut-outs he calls characters. Almost every stereotype conceivable in the dram-rom genre is on full display, including the preachy reverend, the tough girl, the abusive husband, the heavy-handed mother and her introverted daughter.
The performances across the board are sound, but a practically non-existent screenplay renders any interaction between characters essentially worthless. Even at a touch under two hours, Sparkle severely overstays its welcome. Given the similar plot frame and emphasis on glitz-and-glamour music, comparisons to Aussie crowd-pleaser The Sapphires are to be expected, but where the local production made its intentions clear from the outset, Sparkle rambles and labours, pleading with its audiences to maintain an unwarranted sliver of attention in the lead up to a drab and bitterly predictable conclusion.
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I have to say that I liked this version of Sparkle better than the original and I am definitely glad that they changed the story up a bit. This film is very predictable, but I did not care. I think that the cast that was assembled for this film did an excellent job. I have to admit that my main reason for going to see this film was because I wanted to see Whitney Houston in her swan song performance. Whitney (Emma) did an outstanding job in this film and I have to admit that when she sang I got a little (okay, a lot) choked up. Not just because she was singing but because I realized how much I missed her. Jordan Sparks (Sparkle) was made for this role. With this being her film debut, I am sure that we will be seeing a lot more of Jordan on screen. Carmen Ejogo (Sister) almost stole the show along with Mike Epps (Satin). Both were captivating and although you knew from the start where this relationship was heading, it did not matter because you wanted to see it play out. When Michael Beach (Rev. Bryce) hit the screen, I was looking at him and I knew that I had seen him on screen before, but I just could not place him. Whoever did his make-up did a darn good job. Tika Sumpter (Dolores) has come a long way since her days on the television soap One Life to Live. She is the "grounded" sister of the bunch and demonstrates that by having clear goals set and a strong sense of self. Derek Luke (Stix) is the group's manager and Sparkle's love interest who is just trying to do the right thing. I do have to say that there were some faux pas in the film. There were times that the group was singing without mikes and the half-naked dress would have never been acceptable during that time (I don't think). By the way, there was a women sitting in my row that was singing along with all the songs that she remembered (I was cracking up). Do I think that this will be the film of the year? No, but I do think that Director Salim Akil did a good enough job to warrant the price of a ticket. One last thing, I also got choked up again when Jordan sang at the conclusion of the film. I will be downloading that one. I give this film green light.
I get skeptic on watching movies that revolve around singing groups in the 50s-80s because I feel like they are all the same. However, I absolutely enjoyed and would love to see this movie again. Let me just say Carmen Ejogo is an absolutely AMAZING actress. She practically had me in tears throughout the whole movie because she betrayed her character so well! Im not familiar with Carmens work but she sold it. Shes stunningly beautiful, and I cant wait to see her in other upcoming films. Jordan Sparks off course is an amazing singer, and for being her first film she did a good job. I think with time shell be better actress. I think this movie was a great last goodbye for Whitney Houston. Im glad I was able to hear her sing one last time. (: This is definitely a must see, and I will for surely be recommending this movie to everyone I see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a HUGE fan of the original "Sparkle" from my childhood, it took some
getting used to all the changes that were made to the new version, but
somehow it worked. Mara Brock Akil is a talented Hollywood Showrunner
and I've been a longtime fan of hers.
Whitney Houston played her part well as the over protective, bible toting, stern, and bitter single mom of three young women with a troublesome past of her own, who eventually comes around to showing support for her daughter Sparkle's dream of achieving secular music stardom.
The ads portray Cee-Lo Green as if he is a main character, but he simply has a short cameo role. Carmen Ejogo plays the part of "Sister" with a little less UMPH and sassiness than the original, vivacious Lonette McKee, but I loved the fact that Akil was able to give us a little more depth to most of the characters, especially Mike Epps as "Satin." He did an outstanding job, although he played the part of a famous comedian (go-figure), as opposed to a drug dealer like the original. Nonetheless, the guy has acting chops for sure! The oh so gorgeous Jordin Sparks and talented Derek Luke played the roles of Sparkle and Stix wonderfully.
What I would have liked to see was a bit more of the Levi/ Sister relationship before Satin wooed her away, as in the original film. The breathtaking Tika Sumpter played the part of Delores to a Tee, and there was a stronger bond of sisterhood the remake was able to explore.
There are just some unforgettable highlights in the original story that needed to stay, like the Stix & Satin alley fight, Levi working his way up the hustlers food chain. In the new film, he's on the bottom, and the next thing we know he's on top and giving Satin a dose of his own medicine, but we never learn how he got there. There was brutality with Satin and Sister, but the original "crawl" scene would have worked just as well in the remake. Also, there's never any discord between Sparkle and Stix. He says he's leaving, but never does, and she just takes him back with open arms. Delores desire to leave and become a doctor came from watching her mother struggle as a maid her entire life, but in the new film, they came from a middle class family, so there was no struggle.
Overall, it was a good movie that worked with all the changes, but if I had my wish, I would have wanted to see just a little bit more PAIN and STRUGGLE that sparked the original "Sparkle."
There's an indisputable star of this synthetically watchable 2012
melodrama, and it's neither the late Whitney Houston in her last role
nor Season 6 "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks. It's relatively
unknown British actress Carmen Ejogo (Maya Rudolph's sister in "Away We
Go") who explodes off the screen in the meaty, scene-stealing role of
Sister, the hell-raising eldest of a trio of daughters to Emma
Anderson, an uptight, church-going woman who raised them on her own.
Emma is Houston's supporting role, and while she proves she had the
makings of a solid character actress, there is an unfortunate shroud of
irony in her presence given her own tragic, tabloid-saturated life was
itself a cautionary tale about the lure of drugs in show business. This
time in the part Lonette McKee played superbly in the 1976 original,
Ejogo inhabits the character living out the nightmare of drug addiction
and spousal abuse.
The rest of the movie is mostly by the numbers. It opens in 1968, a decade later than the original movie's story, with Sister and her little sister Sparkle sneaking out to a nightclub headlined by a period- costumed Cee Lo Green in a cameo appearance. Sister vamps her way through an original song by Sparkle, which attracts the attention of an aspiring record producer named Stix. He encourages them to shoot for the big time, so they convince level-headed sister Dee to make it a trio decked out sequins, wigs and false eyelashes in order to become the next Supremes. What struck me is how eerily the three women look like the original Supremes line-up with Sparks resembling Florence Ballard and Ejogo looking like a sultry cross between Diana Ross and Beyoncé. Of course, their newfound success comes with heartache, as Sister takes up with a smooth albeit vicious stand-up comic named Satin, and Sparkle struggles between family devotion and her burgeoning love for Stix.
Naturally Emma is constantly worried that her girls will repeat the same mistakes she made when she tried to make it as a singer only to be spit out by the music industry. That means Houston spends most of her limited screen time either fretting about her family or being self-righteous about her religious convictions. The dinner table scene between her and Ejogo is the movie's best scene laying bare the deep-seeded resentment Sister has for her mother and providing a flash of grief over a line that reminds you how Houston died. The melodrama is laid on pretty thick, especially during Sister's downward spiral, but director Salim Akil ("Jumping the Broom") and his wife, screenwriter Mara Brock Akil, balance it with just enough lighter moments. The songs, of course, are what matters the most, and smartly, Curtis Mayfield's original compositions have been retained with the standouts being "Hooked on Your Love", "Look into Your Heart" and especially "Something He Can Feel" which Ejogo performs with sultry conviction.
The new songs by R. Kelly are not nearly as memorable since they sound too contemporary for the period. Sadly, Houston sings only once in character, the spiritual stand-by, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow", and limited to her lower register, her coarsened voice, while emotionally impactful, is vocally a mere shadow of her once-beautiful pipes. Sparks gets to sing a lot more with a predictably booming voice, and she delivers an unaffected turn in the title role. Mike Epps gives a strong performance as Satin, and his scenes with Ejogo echo similarly volatile scenes in "What's Love Got to Do with It?" As Stix, Derek Luke does much better work than Philip-Michael Thomas in the original. Tika Sumpter provides some memorably defiant moments as Dee, the one sister who could take or leave the music. The movie runs too long at 116 minutes, but between Houston's death and Ejogo's star-making turn, it takes on a greater depth than the musical nostalgic trip it was originally designed to be.
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