I wasn't the least surprised with the full house turnout at the preview of Stomp the Yard. Having held the number one spot at the American box office earlier this year for 2 weeks, and with dance competition programmes having ample screen time on local television, it's probably a no brainer for this movie to open here this week, in time for the school holidays, targeting its teenage audience who will more than likely turn up in droves to catch the latest dance movie offering.
As with the previous dance movies Step Up and Take the Lead, our lead dancer comes with plenty of emotional baggage, and a criminal record to boot. In essence, it's like an amalgamation of teen movies Step Up (for the dance genre) and a huge leaf out taken from the structure of Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift - just replace the race cars with provocative street dance moves, and you have Stomp the Yard.
If you're not convinced, DJ (Columbus Short) got his life messed up after his brother's death, and him being charged with assault. He moves away from home to stay with relatives, and enrols himself in a local college. There, he exposes himself to the stomp dance which the frat boys practice, hold competitions and get bragging rights to by being the champion. He falls in love with April (Meagan Good), the main squeeze of a prominent member of the opposite camp, bringing about plenty of issues as they square off on the dance floor.
Clocking close to 2 hours, you'll probably find it amusing as you sit through deja vu moments identified from the movies mentioned, and you'll be able to stay one step ahead of formula every step of the way. There are a number of characters in the story, but while most of them are fringe players, it was toward the end where they start to have personal histories intertwined does it start to get a little ridiculous, too conveniently established to move the story forward.
The romance portion between DJ and April also seem unconvincing, and the actors emote little chemistry with each other. Again, these romantic tangles have been told time and again, and you're more than likely to roll your eyes at the romantic moments which bog down the pace. Rather, you'll be rooting for DJ to do his thing, to show off some of those moves he has - the fluidity and free styled motions as compared to and in stark contrast with the strict rigidity of the stompers' routine. But who says genres can't be meshed together, as Step Up proved to great success.
Being a dance movie, expectations of the dance routine will be high, after all, this is what makes the movie, given the usual cardboard characters that populate the story. It has a couple of impressive ghetto street moves, and the stomp movements that will leave you glued to the steps on screen. However, the finale was a bit of a letdown, given no big face off, but rather a series of repetitive small ones which we've seen earlier in the movie, and a "killer move" which comes anticipated a mile away, bringing to mind The Karate Kid's cheesy one trick pony technique.
I've become a fan of the dance genre because of the earlier movies, but this one seemed to have taken my enthusiasm two steps backwards. Nonetheless it still makes an adequately entertaining movie for the most part, and the dances pretty standard free-styling affair, which should appeal to its intended audience.