It can be hard for writers and directors to remake films.
They have to worry about staying true to the original work while giving it a new spin at the same time. Characters have to be researched and plots thoroughly developed. While it can be challenging to pull this off, the remake of the 1976 film, “Sparkle” did just that and did it well.
The latest production stars the late Whitney Houston, American Idol winner and recording artist Jordin Sparks, actor Derek Luke and actor-comedian Mike Epps. The film tells the story of three sisters, who have a protective mother, trying to make it as a singing trio. They do, but battle all that comes with fame, abuse and drug addiction along the way.
I know. It sounds a little too deep. The music more than makes up for it. It’s a real treat just as it was decades ago. Only this time, there’s a mix of new sounds. Moviegoers now and those who have seen the original, will leave the theater saying, “The music was great.” One might even leave eager to buy the soundtrack that promises new music from Houston and Sparks. I would fall within that category. I have already scoured the Internet to see where I can buy it.
The music is one of the most memorable parts of the film. The newer version includes the signature classics from the original and introduces some stellar anthems. When I went to see it recently, people actually clapped during musical performances. This is one film you can’t just sit through and be unattached.
One change from the original is the setting. The latest version takes place in Detroit rather than New York City. The Motown sound as its soundtrack is a welcome addition to the new look and feel. At least, it worked for me.
Houston’s performance was moving. She was believable as the overprotective mother hen. Though the legendary songstress will always be hailed for her voice, her final debut showed her acting range. She sings a rendition of “His Eye is on the Sparrow” that brought tears to my eyes. It was simply beautiful. It was simply “Whitney.” With the help of a church choir, she more than delivered.
Sparks also shines as a vocalist. The American Idol winner reminds us why she won that accolade. In the film, she plays Sparkle, a musical prodigy who doubts her talents. She writes beautiful songs but doesn’t have the courage to sing them. So, she gets her older sister to belt out the tunes. This changes by the end of the movie. I don’t want to spoil it for you. Let’s say, Sparkle finds her voice and proudly uses it.
With all new films, there will be those who either love it or hate it. From the few reviews I read during the film’s opening weekend, many reviewers are in the middle of the scale. Some say Whitney sparkles in her final performance. I agree. Other critics think Sparks doesn’t bring the same vulnerability as Irene Cara, the actress who played the original Sparkle character. I thought she was great as Sparkle.
Overall, it can’t be denied the latest Sparkle movie is entertaining. With a story riddled with the messages about the importance of believing in yourself no matter who is against you, following your dreams and the power of music, Sparkle offers something for everyone.
It was definitely worth my time and money. I’ve already made plans to see it again. I encourage all to see it at least once. Do it just for the sake of seeing how it maintains the essence of the original. If not for this reason then to merely tap your feet to the music influenced by the Motown era.