|Available at Amazon.com|
Ever since Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, and Footloose in the 1980s, dance/romance movies have been a popular genre of film. But this genre has went through a resurgence of late in the 2000s with the focus being on urban dance. From You Got Served, Save the Last Dance, Feel the Noise, and Stomp the Yard to every other movie in between, the popularity of these types of movies has flourished. None of them have been Oscar-worthy or anything, but they target a certain demographic and that demographic keeps paying money to see these films. Do any of these films really deserve to have a sequel? Probably not, but that didn’t stop one urban dance movie, Step Up, from having just that.
In Step Up 2, Andie (Briana Evigan) belongs to the “410” dance crew in Baltimore. They’re composed of the greatest dancers on the street who disturb the peace with their talents. But then Sarah (Sonja Sahn), Andie’s late mom’s best friend and guardian, threatens to send her off to her aunt in Texas if she doesn’t start concentrating more on school. Worried and confused, Andie heads to the local dance club called “The Streets”, where she stumbles upon local legend Tyler (Channing Tatum reprising his role from the first Step Up film). Tyler passes the baton to Andie and persuades her to enroll in the Maryland School of the Arts. Andie feels this is her chance to stay with her own crew, but after a dispute Andie is left on her own. That is until she gathers up the MSA’s most talented misfits to create an impressive dance crew to gain respect, which include star pupil and hellraiser Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman), who is taken by her urban dance style. Meanwhile, Chase’s brother and director of the school, Blake (Will Kemp), absolutely hates the urban dance style. That’s all you really need for romance and conflict to occur in this film.
The acting and story can be talked about in the same breath, since both elements of this film are basic at best. The cast is likable enough, and Briana Evigan may have even earned herself future acting jobs as she is actually a more capable lead than Channing Tatum, but they aren’t given much to work with to showcase their acting skills. This film is filled with cliches and predictable from start to finish. But that should be expected since this genre of film is not known for having films that break the proven formula.
In the end, it’s all about the dancing here. This is why everyone in this film was cast in the first place. They all can dance, and Step Up 2 is not embarrassed about that. This is where the sequel actually supercedes the original film. It doesn’t take itself as seriously and doesn’t try to force the drama. The creative team behind this film knows that everyone wants to see dancing and they deliver for the most part, especially with the final dance battle in the pouring rain.
Step Up 2 didn’t really need to be made. It’s technically a sequel, but the only real connection to the first film is a brief appearance from Channing Tatum, and the same cookie-cutter plot. But you have to give Step Up 2 credit where it is due. This is a rare example of a sequel being better than the original in every way that counts. The dancing is fantastic and that is all you really need to know about this film. If you like the urban dance film genre, you will be entertained by Step Up 2. But what this film doesn’t do is bring anything new to this genre. It is just another film that looks and feels like every other film out there that doesn’t have the words “Step Up” in its title.
The video is given in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen color, which is enhanced for 16:9 TVs. The transfer is pretty good with strong colors and minimal graininess. No major problems at all.
The audio included is available in either English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, or French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French as well. The dialogue and music come out loud and clear, so no major problems here either.
“Through Fresh Eyes: The Making of Step Up 2” Featurette –
This runs for 12 minutes and it’s your basic “making of” featurette. We get “behind-the-scenes” interviews from various cast and crew members as they talk about making the film. Just a fluff piece that says what you expect it to say.
“Outlaws of Hip Hop” Featurette –
This runs for 5 minutes and it introduces you to the 4-1-0 dancers individually. We see them in the studio practicing their dance moves and talking on camera about the film. Short, but does what it’s supposed to do.
Lead Actor Robert Hoffman Video Prank –
Before this film, Rob Hoffman was most known by MTV fans from appearing on Nick Cannon’s Wild N’ Out comedy show. So it’s not hard to imagine him pulling a prank on a convenience store worker in classic “Candid Camera” style, where he puts his arm around his woman and points, asking for something, and on a single-word cue he and everyone else in the store freezes. Dancing and hilarity then occur and it is actually a funny 2 minute bit to watch once.
Deleted Scenes –
There are 7 scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the film and they total 14 minutes. There are some more dance scenes here including a couple that feature the professional dance crews “Jabbawockeez” and “West Coast Riders”, so unlike most deleted scenes for other movies, these are actually worth checking out because the more dancing the better when it comes to this film.
This is called an “outtake”, but it’s really just one more deleted scene. This is a slow-ballad performance of “Is It You?” by Cassie. Basically, a cross between a music video and a deleted scene.
Music Videos –
There are 5 music videos from various hip-hop songs from the film including “Low” by Flo-Rida f/ T-Pain, “Ching-a-Ling”/”Shake Your Pom Pom” by Missy Elliott, “Killa” by Cherish f/ Yung Joc, “Hypnotized” by Akon, and “Let It Go” by Brit & Alex.
Step Up 2 is not the best urban dance/romance movie out there. It is better than the original but if you don’t like this type of film, or its carbon-copies, then you won’t like this one. If you do like dancing, though, you won’t go wrong with renting this one. I can’t really recommend a purchase for this film unless you a hardcore urban dance fan. This film was made for a particular demographic, so it should be pretty clear to you already whether you fit into that demographic or not.
Touchstone Home Entertainment / Buena Vista Home Entertainment presents Step Up 2. Directed by Jon Chu. Written by Toni Ann Johnson and Karen Barna. Starring Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman, Adam G. Sevani, Will Kemp, Black Thomas, Cassie Ventura, Sonja Sohn, Danielle Polanco, Telisha Shaw, Christopher Scott, Mari Koda, and Channing Tatum. Running time: 98 minutes. Rated: PG-13. Released on DVD: July 15, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.