Saturday, August 18, 2012

Whitney And Her Sisters (Film Review: Sparkle)

"Sparkle," the remake of the 1976 movie of the same title, will probably always be known as Whitney Houston's last screen performance. Technically, she only plays a great support to Jordin Sparks here, but she has such great screen presence that whenever she i on screen, the movie lights up. When she sings her one number, a bravura performance of the gospel classic "His Eye Is On The Sparrow," she commands such attention that you are instantly reminded of how big a loss her death is. She may not have been in the best voice of her career at that point, but she makes up by injecting unmistakable soul in her rendition. Jordin Sparks has a big number at the end of the movie, but for me, the movie stopped after Whitney's number. I never saw the 1976 original (though now I am most curious) but this version is just a straight-up melodrama cliche. It's a mixture of "Dreamgirls" and "A Star Is Born," though I do understand that the original movie predates the Broadway Dreamgirls. The screenplay is sometimes eyeroll-inducing so we are left to just appreciate it based on performances. The standout for me (besides Whitney) is Carmen Ejogo in the "Diana Ross" role, and she is wonderful: magnetic presence (you aren't able to take your eyes off her) and a brave performance that goes dark when it needs to be. You ask yourself why she isn't the title character of the movie. Jordin Sparks, in her first starring role, is just barely adequate. She doesn't really have the screen presence, and is most times boring. The way the role was written didn't help her at all, and she isn't skilled enough to make more with it. Her definitive final number, destined to be epic, was bland and generic. I forgot about the song two seconds after she finished. Everyone else just coasts by. Sparkle has some sparked performances from Houston and Ejogo, but it doesn't have enough sequins to shine bright.

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