Posts Tagged ‘Naomi Ackie’

The Voice of a Generation

I Wanna Dance With Somebody

Director: Kasi Lemmons

Cast: Naomi Ackie, Stanley Tucci, Ashton Sanders (Moonlight), Tamara Tunie, Clarke Peters, Daniel Washington

Running time: 2 hours and 26 minutes

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

In an effort to paint the celebrated musician Whitney Houston in a constantly positive light, Harriet director Kasi Lemmons choses to focus on all the high points of Whitney’s celebrated and controversial life in the new musical biopic I Wanna Dance with Somebody starring British breakout star Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston and Oscar nominee Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones) as her smart and efficient manager Clive Davis.

The Multi-Grammy winning American singer, was the first woman of colour to attract a completely multiracial American audience in the late 1980’s and in the 1990’s and was often accused that her music was not black enough. Whitney Houston’s brief excursion into acting landed her the lead role in the iconic 1992 film The Bodyguard opposite the hot young star of the 1990’s Kevin Costner.

I Wanna Dance Somebody covers all the tumultuous years of Whitney’s career from her incredible highs including the singing of the Star Spangled Banner at the 1991 Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida at the outbreak of the Gulf War to her passionate commitment to the anti-apartheid movement including her concerts in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, South Africa in November 1994 after the first democratic elections were held.

However, the Bohemian Rhapsody screenwriter Anthony McCarten fails to contextualize certain key moments of Whitney Houston’s life and director Kasi Lemmons handles Whitney’s drug addiction and her terrible relation with R & B singer husband Bobby Brown played by Moonlight’s Ashton Sanders with kid gloves, without really giving the audience enough subtext and specific details.

Which means by the time the two and a half hour biopic ends, the death of Whitney Houston in a plush bathtub at the Beverly Hilton during Clive Davis’s pre-Grammy party in Los Angeles on the 11th February 2012 is completely glossed over and hardly mentioned. This was one of the most dramatic deaths of a famous celebrity since River Phoenix and Marilyn Monroe. The media frenzy and consequent fallout of Whitney Houston’s death in 2012 should have been in this film 10 years later.

British new comer Naomi Ackie (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker) does a relatively good job of playing Whitney Houston however she does struggle to keep the emotional pace of a playing a music legend for two and a half hours. Maybe Austin Butler and Rami Malek need to give her some advice.

Stanley Tucci is entertaining as Clive Davis, but again Tucci does not get enough screen time and McCarten does not give the talented star enough interesting dialogue.

The best part about I Wanna Dance with Somebody is the fantastic music of Whitney Houston in which Naomi Ackie does a good job of delivering the voice of the late 1980’s.

Unfortunately as a musical biopic, there is a lot of excellent content out there already and I Wanna Dance with Somebody just falls short of becoming a brilliant film although it is entertaining and will satisfy the fans of Whitney Houston.

I Wanna Dance with Somebody gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is recommended viewing for the music but less for the incoherent storyline.

The Destiny of a Jedi

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Director: J. J. Abrams

Cast: Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Richard E. Grant, Domnhall Gleeson, Keri Russell, Lupita Nyong’o, Ian McDiarmid, Billy Dee Williams, Billie Lourd, Dominic Monaghan, Naomi Ackie

Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens director J. J. Abrams returns to the director’s chair to head up the final instalment of the new Star Wars film, Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker and astutely pays homage to the original Star Wars trilogy which made the franchise so famous and utterly unique: Star Wars released in 1977, The Empire Strikes Back released in 1980 and The Return of the Jedi released in 1983.

Along with the full complement of cast from the recent Star Wars films including Oscar nominee Adam Driver (BlackKklansman) as the conflicted Kylo Ren, along with Daisy Ridley as Rey and John Boyega as Finn, there are also brief glimpses of the original cast members including the late Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia, Harrison Ford as Han Solo and Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker.

In a genius stroke of casting, Billy Dee Williams reprises his role as General Lando Calrissian in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as he was last seen in The Return of the Jedi and had a key role in the betrayal of Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt in The Empire Strikes Back.  

The Dark side or in this case the First Order is represented by the ghoulish Emperor Palpatine played by Ian McDiarmid (The Phantom Menace, Revenge of the Sith) who is naturally revealed as the arch villain along with General Pride played by Oscar nominee Richard E. Grant (Can You Ever Forgive Me?).

The Rebels struggling to fight the First Order include Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron played by Oscar Isaac along with a gang of droids lead by R2-D2, C-3PO and BB-8 and of course the roaring Wookie Chewbacca who is insanely missing Han Solo.

If viewers are not a fan of the Star Wars franchise then don’t bother seeing The Rise of Skywalker as this film is strictly for Star Wars fans and those very familiar with the original trilogy which director J. J. Abrams deftly gives a nostalgic nod to.

With as many plot twists as the galaxy, The Rise of Skywalker will keep audiences guessing while they are absolutely dazzled by the superb visual effects especially the final battle and of course the Jedi versus Sith showdown with blazing lightsabres.

Star Wars Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker gets a film rating of 7.5 out of 10  is strictly recommended for Star Wars followers.

Let’s hope once parent company Disney starts turning a profit on its international streaming services that the gigantic studio will decide to roll out another three films to answer all the questions regarding the destiny of the remaining Jedi and her mysterious identity.

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April 2024
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