Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

Aaliyah’s rise to stardom is chronicled but without the essential things needed for a decent biopic.

Review (with Spoilers)

With all the negative press about the movie, I was certainly not expecting a film like CrazySexyCool. However, I was hoping it would perhaps at least be like Jimi: All Is By My Side and be a neutered film which at least got the casting right. Though, with Zendaya leaving, and being replaced by the unknown Alexandra Shipp, that idea flew out the window. Leaving the question: Is this movie worth seeing at all?

Characters & Story

The movie covers the time period from Aaliyah (Alexandra Shipp) being on Star Search to before she went to shoot the “Rock The Boat” video. So in the film you will see her relationship with R. Kelly (Clé Bennett), her meeting Missy Elliott (Chattrisee Dolabaille) and Timbaland (Izaak Smith), to her becoming a film star, and then her meeting Damon Dash (Anthony Grant).

Praise

Despite the slew of issues the film has, I must admit it did leave me with a strong sense of nostalgia. For seeing Shipp dress up as Aaliyah really does lead you to want to watch one of her old videos, see one of her old movies, and just sort of imagine where she might have been if she were alive.

Those depressing thoughts aside, perhaps one of the best things about this film is that there wasn’t much romanticizing what happened between R. Kelly and Aaliyah. For, the way I see it anyway, he does come off as a predator in the film who is using his fame, and name, in order to woo a child who sees him as the man capable of making all her dreams come true. Outside of that, I was glad a handful of Aaliyah songs, which were covers, made it into the film. Such as “At Your Best.”

Criticism

I’m not going to go as far as most people did when it comes to this movie, if just because I knew from the get-go it wasn’t going to be a definitive biopic. With that said, perhaps the main issue I had with this film is that because the movie didn’t secure Aaliyah’s music rights, it meant more dialog. Of which, the more you hear Shipp talk, it takes away from her trying to emulate Aaliyah and makes it so she is just playing dress up. For Aaliyah has this sort of mystery to her, and swag, which Shipp doesn’t have. Shipp has the appeal and look of a girl next door who plays the love interest, not a star. So while she may have the clothes, and has her hair styled like Aaliyah, neither her acting, singing, nor persona, make you forget you are watching an actress imitate the Aaliyah they saw on TV.

Which is another issue for this film. It is like someone listened to a handful of Aaliyah interviews and then crafted a character based on how they perceived her. Meaning, nothing in the film makes you feel privy of what Aaliyah was like behind the scenes. If anything, it is like a groupie is telling you the story and embellishing when needed.

OverallSkip It

Honestly, the film was doomed from the start. Lifetime isn’t the type of station which seems to give a damn about anything but money and ratings. So without the family support or music, the film ends up focusing on too much dialog and thus makes the film tedious. Add on the casting choices and then it leads you to believe that Lifetime just didn’t want to waste whatever money they put into the production, hence this product. Though perhaps the main reason why this film is being labeled “Skip It” is that it neither provides the insight CrazySexyCool did nor, at the very least, have a talented lead who seems deserving of being the iconic figure which is Aaliyah.

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