Lifetime seems to be the platform for cheesy style biographies lately; remember the dreaded Saved By the Bell
one? Yeah, let’s definitely forget that one shall we?
Critics were not impressed
with the network's latest offering: the unauthorised story of 90s R&B sensation titled Aaliyah: Princess of R&B
. Aaliyah came to fame in 1994 with her titled album Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number,
which went platinum and released the two smash hits "Back and Forth" and "At Your Best". She was cut short at the young age of 22 with her tragic death in 2001.
According to VH1
the story was “bad", but that was just a primer to everything. The movie was insulting to the legacy of the singer, even going as far as to gloss over the major points in her life and giving the film a lighter touch rather than focusing on key moments that had an impact on her career.
One notable mention was her relationship with Singer/Producer R.Kelly whom she had a relationship with at just 15 while Kelly was 27. The film didn't seem to go any further into discussing how wrong this was in terms of statutory rape and the repercussions it could have. Yes, the scene showed her father being upset about the whole thing and even threatening to have Kelly arrested, but nothing was every mentioned afterwards. As we all are aware now of Kelly's trouble with underage relationships, the film showed the relationship as more of a "puppy love"scenario.
Courtesy of: Gawker
If fans were a bit miffed as to why a biography about a singer whose music was clearly absent from the film, it will come as no surprise that Aaliyah’s family had something to do with this. The family have been very focal about their dissatisfaction with the making of this film even before it went to production.
The singer’s cousin, Jomo Hankerson (who also happens to be the president of her record label) told TheWrap.com
, “Because we control the masters (to Aaliyah's recordings), the rights and some images of the musical elements that we put together like the videos, and photo shoots and things that we did, what we can do is just withhold those elements from the production, which we would do.”
Needless to say with the complexities of the song rights for the film, Aaliyah’s cousin stated that he has no problem with the young actress who portrays the singer, but rather with the story that is being told. He believed that Lifetime should have contacted the family to help with the filming process as well as possibly showcasing the film on a much larger scale, i.e. the cinema, rather then the small screen.
Courtesy of: Project Casting
“If this were 50 years from now and nobody was here, then OK, you can just use research, but people are here” Hankerson explained. “So why not have conversations with the people, because they're here, especially when you're saying the word biopic and you're telling her story… I helped create the story. I was there for the story. Me and my dad weren't just bystanders, we put out every record she ever recorded. It's strange to not have that conversation with us.”
But despite its negativity, the film did have a few good scenes going for it... okay, maybe one? Aaliyah's strong professionalism at a young age and the passion she showed for career were key highlights of the film, but sadly that was it. Actress Alexandra Shipp, whom fans were particularly vocal about with her casting, did a good job with the material that she was given, particularly the performances. Other than that though, the critics described her performance as melodramatic at times.
So the verdict by VH1?
“Lifetime was forced to deliver a half-cocked, shoddy portrayal of one of music’s most iconic young figures. It hurts Aaliyah’s legacy more than anything. And it might be too late to try again.”
What did you think of the Aaliyah Biopic?
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