Debra Martin Chase

Debra Martin Chase

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Sparkle Review


Good

An energetic cast and some terrific music make up for the rather hackneyed plot of this Dreamgirls-style drama. Remade from a 1976 film, the story is that familiar trajectory of musicians who achieve fame only to fall into a string of ugly problems. It's just about watchable, but what makes it notable is that it features Whitney Houston in her last film role.

It's set in 1968 Detroit, where Sister (Ejogo) is determined to become a star. Her singer-songwriter sister Sparkle (Sparks) is the one with real talent, but she's happy to stay in the background with their other sister Dee (Sumpter). As Sister and Her Sisters, they are managed by Stix (Luke), a fast-talking charmer who falls for Sparkle. But the girls' intensely religious mother (Houston) is under no illusions: she has been there, done that and continually warns her daughters that they shouldn't go the same way she did. But of course, they have to live their messy lives themselves.

Since it's such a familiar story, the film has a cheesy, soapy feel to it, playing on the sisters' rebellion against their religious upbringing. Of course, danger is represented in the men they fall for. While good-girl Sparkle tries to keep Stix at arms' length for awhile at least, Sister must choose between two men: the poor but nice Levi (Hardwick) and the flashy but drug-addled Satin (Epps). Since we know that she will choose the wrong guy, we know it's not going to be a happy journey for her. But this trawl through the dark side gives Ejogo a chance to steal the film with a much more emotionally charged performance.

Continue reading: Sparkle Review

Miracle Review


Excellent
You'd have to work extra hard to botch the feel-good story of the underdog U.S.A. hockey team that overcame adversity in the 1980 Olympics and earned an unexpected gold medal. Miracle, which recounts the team's remarkable Olympic run, receives a calculated, polished, and affectionate treatment courtesy of Disney's involvement, but benefits immensely from the casting of relative unknowns in the prime hockey player roles. These actors actually look a lot like kids from Minnesota and Boston. Think how distracting it would be to see Matt Damon as Mike Eruzione or Ashton Kutcher as unflappable goalie Jim Craig.

Miracle's focuses falls heavily on coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), both in how he chooses his players and how he re-trains them to play his way en route to the winter Olympic games in Lake Placid, N.Y. Brooks preaches team chemistry to his players, but it's the cast that catches on. Miracle isn't a movie of individuals, it's the perfect combination of unknown actors and veteran stars.

Continue reading: Miracle Review

Debra Martin Chase

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Debra Martin Chase Movies

Sparkle Movie Review

Sparkle Movie Review

An energetic cast and some terrific music make up for the rather hackneyed plot of...

Miracle Movie Review

Miracle Movie Review

You'd have to work extra hard to botch the feel-good story of the underdog U.S.A....

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