Saturday, March 15, 2008

Step Up 2 the Streets

Crowded Streets

The opening just might inspire the return of the flashmobbers, a fad which picked up for a short time in Singapore (of which I did participate in one), and then faded into oblivion. From the get go, it seemed like a unique idea, until you realize it's all staged to gain street cred in this Youtube age, performed by "crew" members of reigning street dance champions 410.

But Step Up 2 retains much of the superficial facade of the original movie, with the setting in the same elite school, only with a different cohort. From what we've seen in the first movie, those snobby arty farty dance kids no longer hog the spotlight, as it is firmly on a group of misfits who are here to replace the loss of the previous two leads Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum, although the latter did land a guest appearance to cement the excuse for a sequel, as well as to pass on the troubled teen mantle to Andie (Briana Evigan).

Whatever troubles these teens have, it's all secondary to the purpose of making the movie. Sure, you have the outcast who don't look right and get prejudiced against, a typical younger brother trying to step out of the shadows of his more illustrious brother who's now school principal, and some might even deem it condescending to have an Asian character who speaks in a funny accent. Too many characters here and all of them turn out to be one-dimensional and cardboard. But all that camaraderie building aside, which is what is formulaic glue, the main draw is undoubtedly the street dancing moves.

I'd bet everyone in the audience, who are mostly teenagers into free form dance, will lap up all the moves that the cast put on display. And there are plenty of set pieces for one to gawk at. However, in my own personal un-dance-like opinion, the dancing here pales in comparison to the first. What made the first interesting to watch, is the fusion of two different schools of thought, and having them come together for an explosive finale which was worth the wait. Here, it's more improvisation, and even then, you can't help but notice the very individualistic styles that stand out on its own, never for a minute trying to blend in with the rest of the crew.

Coming together for the expected finale was also very staged and forced, and in no way given the story development, can they pull off something like that. Even so, instead of one coherent act, you get many disjointed short sequences being force fit together. Not very effective, or interesting to sit through unfortunately. So I am going to state that Step Up 2 the Streets is strictly meant for street dance fans, otherwise this makes the first movie look like a class act of its own.

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