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Movie Reviews

Light It Up  

Cast
Lester (Usher Raymond)
Stephanie (Rosario Dawson)
Audrey McDonald (Vanessa L. Williams)
Rivers (Clifton Collins, Jr.)
Dante Jackson (Forrest Whitaker)
Lynn (Sara Gilbert)
Ziggy (Robert Richard)
Mr. Knowles (Judd Nelson)
Rodney (Fredro Starr)

Directed and Written by Craig Bolotin Rated R for language and violence Running Time: 98 minutes Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Light It Up is a dull thriller film that tries to be very dramatic. The story is centered around six high school students in Queens, New York. Lester (Raymond), Ziggy (Richard), Stephanie (Dawson), Lynn (Gilbert), Rivers (Collins, Jr.), and Rodney (Starr) are six students that stand up to their principal for an answer of why their best teacher, Mr. Knowles (Nelson), was fired. The students' protest turns into a police standoff when security guard Dante Jackson (Whitaker) is accidentally shot and taken hostage. Audrey McDonald (Williams), a police hostage negotiator, then begins working with the students on their demands. The students decide to use the huge media frenzy to voice their concerns about the state of education and underachievers.

Light It Up is a film that brings in so many circumstances and characters that the story ends up getting lost. The film tries to be a combination of The Breakfast Club and The Negotiator.

Craig Bolotin wrote and directed Light It Up. Bolotin's strength in his script is character development, but everything else is pretty shabby. Like I said before, there is absolutely too many circumstances and obstacles for these characters to handle. The whole hostage situation should have been enough for them to handle, but Bolotin elects to bring in more consequences for each student. Also, Bolotin's film ends up being very predictable. Within the last half-hour of the film, I pretty much had the climax and ending figured out.

Rapper Usher Raymond does a more established acting job in Light It Up as Lester, than his previous films. Raymond was previously seen in The Faculty and She's All That. It was also nice to see Sara Gilbert back in acting, as Lynn. Gilbert, who became known on television's "Roseanne", has been out of acting for awhile because she has been concentrating on college. The downside of the cast is Fredo Starr and Vanessa L. Williams. Starr plays Rodney, who is the hot-tempered gang member of the rebellious students. Starr is also a rapper like Raymond, but the guy shows he should stick to rapping with his awful performance in Light It Up. Vanessa L. Williams is terrible as the hostage negotiator Audrey McDonald. In my opinion, Williams is a very good singer, but not that good of an actress.

Light It Up is a film about freedom of speech and beliefs. However, I didn't think the film was presented well. It just came with too many aspects and obstacles for the film too handle.

Report Card Grade: D

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