A new biopic came out this weekend telling the story of EYG Hall of Famer Aretha Franklin, from her early days of singing in her father’s church to the recording of her best selling gospel album and documentary that went with it.

Jennifer Hudson has one of the few voices able to pull off the songs of The Queen of Soul. The remainder of the cast all do an admirable job in the biopic.

I am mixed on this movie. There were some sections of this film that I really did not like while other parts that were just tremendous. Anything dealing with the music/songs, including how they were being constructed and recorded was fire. Jennifer Hudson is remarkable and the way the film outlines the way the songs were being put together is fascinating and, at times, thrilling.

The first act of the film felt like it was a bad Lifetime movie. Forest Whitaker played Aretha’s father, C.L. Franklin. The first part of the movie rushed through what seemed like significant moments in Aretha’s life and set up several important bits that is never quite ever paid off. Again, any of the music really helped save the first half of this movie, keeping it from completely falling apart.

The third act of the movie also seemed to be too packed. It feels as if the movie tried to cover too much of Aretha’s life and that it might have benefitted from picking one time to focus in on. However, the third act was stronger than the beginning, and that was mainly because of a really great performance from Jennifer Hudson. This was the moment where Aretha finally stood up and started being the Queen.

Then the emotional “Amazing Grace” cover during the recording of Aretha’s gospel album was stunning and a powerful way to end the film.

The film did feel long, but there is supposed to have been a 3-hour cut of the movie that had been shown last year and it already cut out 45 minutes of the film. That might be the reason why I felt as if there were some things missing.

Overall, I think that the film is more good than bad. The music is unbelievable and worth the time alone. I just wish the rest of the film matched the intensity of the music.

3.1 stars

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