Entries in Sparkle (5)


"ParaNorman," "The Expendables 2," "Sparkle" Open Nationwide

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here's a look at the new movies opening nationwide Friday:

-- ParaNorman: A boy who can communicate with the dead is tasked with fighting off a zombie, ghost and witch attack against his town.  The animated flick features the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.  It was directed by Chris Butler and Sam Fell.  Rated PG.

-- The Expendables 2: In this sequel to Sylvester Stallone's 2010 action flick, the group of mercenaries known as the Expendables have revenge on their minds when one of them is killed during a job.  The film features a who's who of top-shelf action stars: Stallone, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, plus Liam Hemsworth.  Rated R.  [Click here to read a review]

-- Sparkle: The final film from the late Whitney Houston is a remake of the 1976 movie of the same name.  Set in the ‘60s, former American Idol champ Jordin Sparks plays the titular character, an up-and-coming singer from the Detroit area dealing with various struggles.  Houston co-stars as her mother.  Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Omari Hardwick and Cee Lo Green also star.  Rated PG-13. [Click here to read a review]

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Sparkle" Was Whitney Houston's 'Last Gift to Us'

TriStar Pictures(NEW YORK) -- To remake Sparkle, a film considered a cult classic, is a tough feat.  And the pressure is not lost on the cast of Sparkle, due in theaters Friday.

British actress Carmen Ejogo, who plays Sister, refused to see the original before diving into her role as a sexy singer looking for a way out of 1960s Detroit.

We tried "to make our own fresh classic," she told ABC News Radio Tuesday at the New York City premiere.  "And I feel like we've done that.  I really feel like we've made a modern classic...let's allow that cult classic to exist."

Still, for many moviegoers, it will be their very first time seeing the story of three sisters who try to make it in the music industry, but get derailed by drugs, heartbreak and their own insecurities. 

Jordin Sparks portrays the title character, Sparkle, who has a gift of songwriting despite her mother's discouragement, and ultimately finds her voice without her family as a crutch.  It's Sparks' film debut, and she didn't want to disappoint her cast mates.

"I memorized the script backwards and forwards.  I knew my lines.  I knew everybody else's lines.  I knew their exits and entrances and that's really what helped me as soon as I got there," Sparks told ABC News Radio.  "I’ve never done this before so...I was kind of just flying by the seat of my pants."

Sparks plays a naive wide-eyed teenager who eventually gets her heart broken, which only strengthens her own resolve to make it as a star.

"Because she was so 'green' she didn't even know when to ask for extra takes," recalled her co-star Omari Hardwick, lovingly.  "She basically just used her natural charm and natural ability."

But even as a new actress she wasn't the one scared of those tough kissing scenes.  It was her leading man, Derek Luke, who plays an ambitious manager, Stix, who discovers the girls, who got butterflies on set.

"I'm the one that was pretty nervous," Luke admitted.  "I'm the one that didn't want to do the scenes."

Still, it was prayer, led by the late Whitney Houston, who also produced the film, that calmed any nerves the actors might have felt.

"I definitely requested a couple of prayers be led," Hardwick said.  "It speaks to the tonality of how she dealt with everybody.  She was the momma hen, and the auntie, and the sister, and the friend."

"She treated us like her children," Tika Sumpter added.

And in Houston's last film, one she tried for 10 years to create, the message is to simply follow your dreams -- a mantra the singing diva lived to her last day.

"If she was here it'd be an even bigger party," Ejogo told ABC News Radio at the film's premiere.  "This was her last gift to all of us."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Movie Review: "Sparkle"

TriStar Pictures(NEW YORK) -- During a scene in Sparkle between the title character and her sister Dee, Sparkle says, “If you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.”
Ok, there are a few nice things -- a very few nice things --  to say about this movie, which I had hoped would be, and wanted to be, better than it is.  First, the story.
It’s the late 1960s in Detroit and Jordin Sparks is Sparkle, an immensely talented singer and songwriter who lives in the shadow of the her gorgeous eldest sister, Sister (Carmen Ejogo).  Unbeknownst to their Bible-thumping single mother, Emma -- played by Whitney Houston in her final acting role -- Sparkle, Sister and third sibling Dee (Tika Sumpter) have formed a girl group whose only chance of success seems to hinge on Sister’s sex appeal.  The three adult sisters still live with Emma, who insists that they devote an hour a day to Bible study and who doesn’t approve of their taste of music.
Enter Derek Luke’s Stix, a wannabe music impresario who falls for Sparkle even before he learns of her freakish songwriting ability.  Stix helps Sparkle articulate her dream of being a singer-songwriter but instead of nurturing her as solo act, he instead insists on managing Sparkle, Dee and Sister as a sister act. Disappointing for Sparkle -- and given the lack of emotional impact that moment has, it's disappointing for the audience as well.
Curiously, other than some dialogue invoking Martin Luther King Jr. and one scene in which we see him on TV, the racial tension that existed in 1960s America is largely absent from Sparkle.  The exception is comedian Mike Epps, who plays Satin, a famous comic who takes a liking to Sister and through whose character those racial tensions are played.  Even so, it all serves to highlight Sparkle’s major weakness, which is a near complete lack of dramatic tension.
The most emotional moments in Sparkle come from the fact that Whitney Houston is no longer with us, a reality that imbues her words and performance with a gravitas and meaning they might not have had if she was still with us. Unquestionably, it is moving, even rousing, to watch Houston performing the gospel hymn “His Eye Is On the Sparrow,” but the overall writing and character development in Sparkle is so poor that trying to connect emotionally to this film is like trying to connect to a WiFi signal with a rotary telephone.
Another of Sparkle's major weaknesses is star Jordin Sparks.  It has nothing to do with the former American Idol champ's singing, because she has an angelic voice and it’s always a pleasure to listen to and watch her perform.  It's her acting that needs work.  Sparks can emotionally connect to songs but she’s never believable when reciting dialogue -- and that’s a problem because you should never feel like an actor is “reciting” dialogue.  She may be able to pull off a Broadway musical, as she did with In the Heights, but Jordin Sparks wasn’t ready for the responsibility that comes with playing the title role in a major motion picture.
Two out of five stars.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Whitney Houston's Final Recording Released

Sony Pictures(LOS ANGELES) -- Whitney Houston may have died in February, but she's still putting out new music.

The song, called "Celebrate," is a duet with Jordin Sparks from the upcoming remake of the film Sparkle, and was recorded just days before Houston died. The new tune, released Monday on Ryan Seacrest's website, also includes a quiet message at the end of it.

The film was supposed to be a comeback vehicle of sorts for the troubled singer. Sparkle is set for release in August.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


"Sparkle" Trailer Debuts on "Today Show"

Kevin Mazur/AMA2009/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- One of the most anticipated films this summer features Whitney Houston's last onscreen performance.

Sparkle, starring the late music icon alongside Jordin Sparks and Cee Lo Green, is due in theaters on Aug. 17, but fans caught a glimpse of Houston's performance in a new trailer, released on NBC's Today Show Monday morning.  The full trailer premiered later on Monday.

A remake of the 1976 classic, Sparkle centers around an all-girl singing group that struggles with family, fame and drug addiction. Houston plays the mother of the three girls.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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