The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
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Thanks to smart direction and a powerhouse performance from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Beyond the Lights transcends its formulaic storyline to deliver thoroughly entertaining drama.
All Critics (87)
| Top Critics (32)
| Fresh (72)
| Rotten (15)
In every scene here, Prince-Bythewood calmly and sensitively melts our resistance to the outlandish, outsized quality of her plot and stays true to the message she wants to deliver without ever getting pious or preachy.
Has the elements of a classic backstage story, but they don't quite crystallize into an integral drama.
It's a movie about a rising superstar that features two of them-Mbatha-Raw and Parker, both enormously appealing, impossibly attractive performers with big futures ahead of them.
"Beyond the Lights" is a faint shadow of 1992's "The Bodyguard," without the star power of Whitney Houston or Kevin Costner.
Director Prince-Bythewood, who made the move from television to the big-screen in 2000 with the terrific romance Love and Basketball has a way with actors.
Unfortunately for a film about the importance of keeping it real, the drama here is largely formulaic, and the finish line crosses into the realm of artistic fantasy.
Beyond The Lights gives the audience many other simple pleasures and, at least for its duration, makes us wonder what else we could ever want from the movies.
...the film is a deeply effective and provocative look at the demands fame makes on women-but then Kaz shows up...and the whole thing turns into a rote love story.
This film's got all the elements to make it a wide-release hit, a stunning lead couple, some catchy-if-a-little-cringey tunes, a good bit of social commentary for good measure and an outlandish dream-like love story.
It is an interesting film but the romantic sub-plot detracted from what could have been an interesting independent film.
Although the intrigue and intensity waxes and wanes, it is a decent film about love, overbearing mothers, and the cost of fortune and fame.
It might be a broad stereotype, but that side of the pond tends to produce very well-trained, versatile thespians.
In the US this was released a few months after Belle also starring up-and-coming young actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Her indie cred seemed strong, so my wife and I caught this in mid-2015 on Netflix. Gina Prince-Bythewood writes and directs for a talented ensemble. The story is a pretty standard one about the pressures of fame and I was disappointed that it falls into an extremely traditional romance plot.
A cop saves the life of a suicidal rising star, and they begin a frowned-upon romance.
While the film's heart is in the right place and its depiction of the music world is a well-aimed barb, there is something off about the pace and plot of this film. It is essentially an emotional, over-wrought scene followed by a montage, followed by an emotional, over-wrought scene, and the plot points of the romance are awfully quick and - you guessed it - over-wrought. The characters jump to conclusions that no real, reasonable lovers would reach, and when the plot calls for a sincere moment, the film settles for a montage that doesn't reveal enough about their journey.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Nate Parker are acceptable in their roles, but in their tender scenes together, there's something insouciant about much of their acting, as though the characters they create aren't making real and vital decisions.
Overall, Beyond the Lights would have benefited from reworking its plot and stronger performances.
Striking just the right amount of emotion without being too sappy, "Beyond the Lights" tells the story of a pop-star submerged in stardom, with no freedom from her mother, as she tries to grasp the concept of true love and reality. Fame can be hard, and this film explores both that and the ideal of a happy life without it. I absolutely loved how this film as executed, and it;s smart script isolates itself from any cliched story that may be similar to it. It distances itself from the predictable story you think it will be and opens your mind. "Beyond the Lights" helms a breakout star performance, a great script, anice balance of terrible and good music, and I thoroughly believe that this is a fantastic film that could have failed miserably. Overall, I highly recommend this film, especially to those who are skeptical or have no idea what it is.
Beyond the lights is a tale that inhabits the contemporary R&B realm of artists like Rihanna. Noni feels pushed by her domineering mother into fronting a hyper-sexual image with which she doesn't feel comfortable. Her musical style sports vocals that are technologically enhanced by Auto-Tune and deep percussive bass. She wishes to retreat to a more simple style of her artistic idol Nina Simone. These portraits of the music industry often lambaste the pre-fabricated, highly choreographed pop star, but one look at the Top 40 will show that is what people want. As her momager's behavior widens the divide between them, Noni escapes to a island resort. Here the narrative takes on a poignancy I didn't expect. Lamenting the way people are marketed for a mass audience is old hat, but Gugu renders her sorrow with distinction. As she literally strips away the long colored strands of straight hair woven into her own, she symbolically reveals her true self. Her subsequent triumph of Nina Simone's "Blackbird" in a karaoke bar becomes a declaration. It's an affecting transformation and Gugu makes the metamorphosis seem fresh and new.
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