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Set in the 1960s, three sisters form girl group and soon become Motown sensations, but fame becomes a challenge as the close-knit family begins to fall apart.
For more about Sparkle and the Sparkle Blu-ray release, see Sparkle Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 15, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Michael Beach
Director: Salim Akil
» See full cast & crew
Sparkle Blu-ray Review
'Sparkle' shines on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 15, 2012
There's no shortage of movies about the dreams of stardom, the costs of success, the allure of money and power, and both the fragility and strength of family. Few of them bring all those elements together as well as Sparkle, Director Salim Akil's (Jumping the Broom) heartfelt period Drama about a trio of sisters honing talents, battling the past, making choices, experiencing the ebbs and flows of life both on the big stage and in the intimate surroundings of family, and finding their destinies in Vietnam-era Detroit. It's a relatable story for anyone who's ever dreamed, been caught between encouragement and discouragement, and discovered that life isn't always what it seems, that those curveballs are very much real but that so too are those pings of hope and glimpses of success that sometimes ask only for a little effort to make them reality. Akil's film balances the ups and downs with the sort of artistic precision seen in the finest Dramas, and combined with beautiful music and great talent at the top of its game, it's easy to see why Sparkle is one of 2012's most dazzling movies.
Sisters Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) and Sister (Carmen Ejogo) perform at Detroit's Discovery Club in 1968. They catch the attention of Stix (Derek Luke) and his cousin Levi (Omari Hardwick), both of whom are impressed with what they see and hear. As Levi woos Sister and Stix keeps his eye on Sparkle, the cousins attempt to convince the sisters -- including aspiring medical student Dee (Tika Sumpter) -- to form a vocal group and head on out towards a career of musical fame and fortune. The girls' mother, Emma (Whitney Houston), disapproves of their singing beyond the church's walls, however. The girls go ahead with the idea behind their mother's back and begin to make it big. Things are complicated, however, when Sister falls for the big money and smooth talk of successful Comedian Satin (Mike Epps). When she announces her intention to marry him -- a man who humiliates the family at dinner -- Sister is forced from the house and the group's success hangs in the balance. Can a broken family, a questionable marriage, competing dreams, and various secrets keep the girls from finding success, or will they grow closer together as the biggest lights turn their way?
Sparkle is one of the finer remakes of a recent vintage. The story has the feel of timelessness to it; it's not a product of the original's era or the timeframe in which the films are set. Sparkle works because it paints a vivid picture of family and contrasts the wholesomeness of the classic churchgoing unit with the allure of fame and the realities of life outside the shelter of the home. It intermixes all of those elements beautifully; the crossing influences enhance the drama without confusing audiences. Salim Akil balances the story with sure-handed precision, allowing the interconnectivity of all the characters and elements to play smoothly together and integrate into the core story that's slowly assembled from the various pieces introduced throughout the first act. Never does the complexities of family, fame, fortune, talent, romance, marriage, hopes, fears, doubts, acceptance, spirituality, and worldly influence jumble together. Instead, the narrative flow proves quite engaging, dramatically honest and emotionally satisfying both. It's a pleasure to watch the characters develop and their stories unfold. It hurts when they hurt, it lifts the spirit when they succeed. The Drama never succumbs to shallowness, nor do the characters; the movie rouses the spirit through song and satisfies the soul with its touching family tale and the way the world and the music both distance the family and bring it closer together.
The other side of the equation is the people that make Sparkle sing, literally and figuratively both. The picture's strong narrative is shaped by equally strong performers inhabiting well-designed and thoughtful characters. The cast displays as much talent behind the microphone as they do in front of the camera, not only belting out the tunes with superior vocals but also finding the character nuance critical in shaping the movie's drama and enhancing its musical numbers. The trio of Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, and Tika Sumpter ignite the screen with a complete package of good looks, vocal talents, and a firm grasp of the film's dramatic narrative and purpose. They're superb in every frame, carrying the movie through its emotional highs and lows. They perform the catchy tunes with a natural feel and wholehearted effort that beams through in every scene, whether shared or individual. Mike Epps is more than impressive as the unlikable Satin. His command of the part and the nonchalance with which he goes about everything from wooing Sister to brushing off her mother's beliefs make for one of the best performances of a classic slick villain in some time. Derek Luke and Omari Hardwick are very good as the cousins and love interests who push the girls towards their dreams, but it's the late Whitney Houston who delivers perhaps the film's finest performance as the matriarchal rock, a scarred woman with a strong head on her shoulders, a devotions to faith and family, and a fear for her children, a fear that they will succumb to the same mistakes that at one time tore her down but only made her stronger, made her a better mother, made her a person with invaluable life experience to share. Houston slips into the part with a natural grace and a command of the character nuance that befits what would be her final screen role.
Sparkle Blu-ray, Video Quality
Sparkle's 1080p high definition transfer sparkles, of course. Sony's latest doesn't disappoint, replicating the picture's digital source photography with ease. Whether in hazy night clubs, colorful interiors, or bright exteriors, the transfer delivers superb clarity and demonstrates commendable stability. The image is a bit silky-smooth as digital shoots tend to sometimes be, but that doesn't lessen the handsome, sharp, and consistent details that help make this transfer a winner. The image yields the sort of dependable, natural textures viewers expect, whether complex facial and clothing lines or general background details that solidify the front-and-center elements and help recreate an authentic viewing canvas. Colors are excellent, presented with natural balance and accuracy, again whether in darkened interiors or well-lit locales, indoors and outdoors alike. Period hues shine; the palette is varied, rich, and astonishingly reproduced. Black levels are as expected, deep and accurate whether dark clothes or shadowy corners. Flesh tones are true across the many shades seen throughout the film. This is a top-notch transfer all around, hindered by a little bit of banding in a few spots but otherwise a handsome, consistently striking presentation that should satisfy all viewers.
Sparkle Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Sparkle's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack is everything a sound presentation accompanying a movie of this style should be. The track provides a consistently wonderful presence, from the opening musical acts forward. Listeners will enjoys superb vocal clarity, faultless musical accompaniment, quality bass, natural spacing, and just the right surround support. The track's musical reproduction practically places listeners in the audience, and even crowd ambience is delivered without fault; it's a very impressive, full-fledged, theatre-big surround experience. Lighter music elements inside the church, such as organ notes, play with equally impressive flavor. Light exterior ambience helps shape quieter scenes, while dialogue remains true to life, centered up front and clear as can be. This is a vastly impressive track that dazzles across every musical number and plays with a seamless natural flair elsewhere. In short, it's another A-list soundtrack from Sony.
Sparkle Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sparkle contains several quality supplements, including an audio commentary track and a tribute to Whitney Houston.
Sparkle Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Sparkle is as dramatically satisfying as it is audibly pleasing and visually stunning. The film is home to complex drama, plenty of heart, and strong performances, all of it brought together under Salim Akil's eye for detail and smooth direction. One of the finer remakes of recent years, Sparkle satisfies in every area and is a fitting final film for the late Whitney Houston. Sony's Blu-ray release of Sparkle contains dazzling video and audio. A nice array of extra content appears in support. Highly recommended.
Sparkle: Other Editions
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Sparkle Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Sparkle Blu-ray - January 8, 2013
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of director Sam O'Steen's Sparkle, starring Irene Cara, Lonette McKee, Dwan Smith and Philip Michael Thomas. The 1976 Supremes-inspired period drama makes its Blu-ray debut on May 7th.
• Sparkle Blu-ray - October 8, 2012
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release on Blu-ray director Salim Akil's Sparkle (2012), starring the late Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks and Carmen Ejogo. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the nation on November 30th ...
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