Light It Up movie poster
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Light It Up movie poster

Light It Up Movie Review

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Another inner city school movie has hit town, but Light it Up has turned out to be a surprisingly tense and emotional movie.

In one fateful moment, a police officer is shot in the leg and another guy, trying to defend his friend, the shooter, takes the school hostage. Most of the students vacate, leaving only a couple left to hold the cop hostage and dictate their demands. Their demands aren't about money or selfishness; in fact, they are to fix the school up. And while the media makes up their own stories about the children inside, and the police surround the building ready to attack, the students decide that they need to get their point across anyway they can.

The cast includes Usher Raymond, Rosario Dawson, Vanessa L. Williams and Forest Whitaker. Usher Raymond is the main character, a guy who has the right idea in mind (stand up for his school) but also has some issues with the law. He seems a little too bent on killing the cop at times, which seem out of character for this otherwise "sweet" boy. Rosario Dawson serves as the school's smartest student and Usher's love interest, and it looks as if she might have a promising career in front of her. As for Forest Whitaker, Light It Up shows that he can pick movies wisely (of course, you look at Battlefield Earth and think again). While the script isn't great all around, Whitaker's character is memorable. As for the other characters, they fluctuate. There's one guy who thinks the best way out is to kill the cop, and another who likes doing drugs in school. There's yet another who's pregnant. Not exactly the best combination.

The movie has thought but the presentation needs some work in parts. Light it Up suffers from an inconsistent script - sometimes, it is really good, and sometimes, it looks like a teeny bopper movie. The acting is also inconsistent. The actors give it their best but they don't always pull the lines off as they are young and inexperienced. Vanessa L. William's character doesn't get a chance to do much of anything, and she's gone long before the movie's over.

I already expressed my concern about how Usher's character was handled, and it still continues to plague me. At some points he is a good person - and that is obviously the intent of the film - but sometimes he gets a little too testy with the gun. Also, the only other real big issue I have with Light it Up is how fast the movie wraps itself up. The ending is pretty shocking but after that, there is a quick minute or two where the narrator explains what happened to all of the characters, and even includes the trial in that time. What also confused me at one point is that Whitaker is beginning to side with the students but he then tries to escape by knocking one of the people out.

There's a few character inconsistencies and some script problems, but in the long run, Light it Up turns out to be a very exciting and rewarding film.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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