Queued Up: Comic Book Movie Edition – The LXD: The Uprising Begins

Looking for a movie to watch but there’s nothing good on television and you don’t want to drive to your local Redbox or video store? This column takes a peak at some of the curiosities to be found on Netflix Instant Streaming. Today: The LXD: The Uprising Begins.

It’s still early in the year but watching LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers may just be one of the biggest highlights of 2011 for me.

The first season of the popular web series, which is available to stream in its entirety as a full-length film on Netflix, reminds me in many ways of the arcade fighting games of the ‘90s. Sure there was a plot to be found somewhere in the game but it was loosely strung together in order to give players some sense of accomplishment when they realized they just spent ten dollars and the last hour beating Shang Tsung.

LXD also has a loosely strung together plot — a group of eclectic dancers are recruited from around the world by a mysterious organization intent on saving the world or something like that — but really, it’s all about the dancing. The LXD is like going to the zoo and seeing all kinds of animals safely locked in cages — but instead of seeing different types of animals, you’re watching various kinds of dancers from the safety of your home where you don’t have to worry about being caught in the crossfire of a stray serving.

From B-boying to tricking to krumping to popping — and many other names of dances that I did not know and had to look up — The LXD features a cornucopia of rhythm and funk. The dancers in the series are the pinnacle of physical artistic expression — showcasing the very limits of what the human body is capable of achieving if only it would stop playing video games and stuffing Funyuns down its throat. Seriously, if I could accomplish some of the dance movies the members of the Legion pull off, I’d prance around shirtless in abandoned factories too.

But really, I lied. The dancing is only half of the movie’s appeal. The plot, which I may have downplayed earlier, has a lot to do with how much I loved this series.

The LXD is like if Step Up and the X-Men had a baby and she grew up to be a dumb but pretty weather lady. You can’t stop starring at her as she reads the news and her looks are more than enough to help you forget and forgive every time she mispronounces the various kinds of weather phenomena. It’s not her fault lightening rolls of the tongue so weird.

The first season of the show, titled The Uprising, is a gathering of heroes. Over the course of ten chapters, viewers are introduced to the various members of the Legion as they discover their dancing prowess and are recruited. Some have natural agility and funk, others are thrust into their great power and subsequent responsibility through magic or technology. There’s one dancer in particular that is some kind of robot. Can you guess what his particular dance style is?

The series is filled with the same level of self-serious and dangerously cheesy over-importance of the best/worst episodes of Heroes. A nameless narrator gives the dancers and their stories the same amount of gravitas that would be bestowed to a documentary about 9/11.  Yet, despite all this faux-importance, there’s something charming about the show beyond the simple fact you’re watching extraordinary good dancers.

Maybe it’s the simplicity to the sets — all real locations repurposed for the art of getting jiggy wit it — or it could be the thumping music or the charming eagerness of the storyline. Director and writer John Chu has made a series that is at once reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s long form music videos, the best blue jeans commercials and a Julie Taymor film. The LXD is more than people dancing. It’s also a lot less, but you’ll be able to forgive that.

While the threat the Legion faces is never quite explained in the first season, hints are given some wicked plot concocted by evil dancers. These diabolical two-steppers come in many shapes — from masked doctors who perform nefarious procedures on ex-military or just your generic looking dance ninjas. Either way, the Legion’s threat seems to be just as great or greater than your average Brotherhoods of Evil Mutants or Legions of Doom. Plus, they have more rhythm than Solomon Grundy. Have you ever seen that guy do a rumba?

The LXD is a superhero movie but instead of throwing punches or fireballs at each other, the heroes and villains dance at one another. Wins and losses are tallied up by who’s been served the most. But, before you think this is a low-stakes kind of fight — there are actually examples of people being killed with the power of dance. Seriously. It’s messed up, yo!

The League of Extraordinary Dancers is a perfect blend of the hokeyness found in the worst of comic books with performances by the best of dancers. Somewhere in the middle of that weird entertainment smoothie is a lot of fun. Sometimes, after all, you just need to see a cheesy, self-important web series about superheroes and super villains tap dancing at each other.

Watch The LXD: The Uprising on Netflix in HD:

Buy The LXD: The Uprising at Amazon.com:

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