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Step Up 2: The Streets(2008)
When rebellious street dancer Andie (Briana Evigan) lands at the elite Maryland School of the Arts, she finds herself fighting to fit in while also trying to hold onto her old dream of dancing with an underground Baltimore street crew. When she joins forces with the school's hottest dancer Chase (Robert Hoffman) to form a crew of classmate outcasts to compete in Baltimore's underground dance battle "The Streets," she ultimately finds a way to live her dream while building a bridge between her two separate worlds.
For more about Step Up 2: The Streets and the Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray release, see Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on June 24, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers: Karen Barna, Toni Ann Johnson
Starring: Briana Evigan, Robert Hoffman (I), Will Kemp, Sonja Sohn, Adam G. Sevani
» See full cast & crew
Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray Review
You can sit back down.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, June 24, 2010
Here's a thought for studios considering what to do for their next big dance film: Forget about trying to shoehorn a shopworn story into the thing. Drop the pretense of having a plot. Give the old "tough kid from the streets gets accepted into a prestigious fine arts high school" chestnut a rest. And cool it with the hokey attempts at edgy urban slang and the phony "We can do this guys!" motivational (faux-tivational?) speeches. Just make a big budget dance documentary. What the hell, film it in 3D so every pop, lock, flip and booty shake lunges out of the screen at us. Instead of hiring dancers to try to be actors—and to basically act like hyperbolized, fictionalized versions of themselves—follow real dance crews competing in real battles. (Or, whatever the kids are calling them. Is it battle? You could call the film Dance Wars.) The point is, the allure of this genre is the dancing. For film after film, in review after review, you read something like this: "The dance sequences are great, full of high-octane energy, but the intervening drama is a long, predictable, cliché-ridden slog." Why not cut out the filler? I'm looking at you, Step Up 2: The Streets.
An extremely loose sequel to 2006's Step Up—about a move-busting bad boy (Channing Tatum) falling for a good girl ballerina at the fictional Maryland School of the Arts—The Streets keeps the Baltimore setting but severs all narrative ties to the first film. Here, our fleet-footed protag is Andie West (Briana Evigan), an aspiring street dancer from the wrong side of town who belongs to the crunk-tastic 410 crew. (Yes, 410 is Baltimore's area code.) Andie has been avoiding her schoolwork to compete in The Streets, an illegal underground dance-off—no, we never learn what's so illegal about dancing in a club, as opposed to underground car racing—and her adopted mom (The Wire's Sonja Sohn) is threatening to send her to live with an aunt in Texas. ("No," Andie pleads, "the four-one-oh is the only family I have left." Just a quick taste of the fantastic dialogue to come.) To give the sequel some semblance of continuity, Channing Tatum drops in briefly to kick Andie's ass in a trampoline-assisted dance battle and hook her up with an audition at the MSA.
"She's just a street dancer," says Mr. Collins, the school's uptight director (Will Kemp), with palpable derision. Andie gets in anyway, though, mostly because the director's brother, hotshot senior student Chase (Robert Hoffman), has a thing for her. I will give Step Up 2 this: while most of these kinds of films have a rough-and-tumble ghetto urchin taking to the stage, combining hip-hop attitude with newfound ballet moves, this one reverses the formula by using Andie as a freestyling pied piper, luring fine art school-types out into the "real world" of the streets. (Rest assured, it's still very much formulaic otherwise.) When the 410 disowns her—for, you know, trying to better herself—Andie starts her own crew with Chase, comprised of MSA outcasts. (Each a tidy, easily sum-up-able stereotype: the dorky one with secret dance skills, the "kooky" Asian girl, etc. I feel no need to detail them further, as they have no bearing on the plot and just serve as window dressing for our lead, a bit like back-up dancers at a Britney Spears concert.) Much to the horror of Mr. Collins—who utters, flustered, "I can't just allow my students to participate in something illegal!"—Andie leads her new crew to The Streets, where they fight for credibility and face off against the four-one-oh.
Step Up 2 steals a few steps from Fame, pinches turns from How She Move, and pilfers from the playbook of several other dance flicks—like Take the Lead and Save the Last Dance—but none of these films are exactly original either. In this iteration, you'll find everything you expect. The unlikely romance. The scrappy street kid showing the stiffs at the elite private school what's what. The climactic, let's blow 'em out of the water dance finale. The triumph of heart over hardship. The classically trained teacher who eventually comes around to see the value in hip-hop culture. The racial and class divides. The blood, sweat, and tears. It's all here, and it's all contrived—pre-packaged plot, stockroom characters, assembly line emotion.
The dancers-cum-actors have little to do but go along, mouthing out-of-date dialogue and, when the film is at its best—to use a phrase nearly as old as the slang these characters spout—cutting the rug. Robert Hoffman is vaguely queasy as a backward ballcap-wearing, Abercrombie-esque prep and clean-cut Briana Evigan never passes for the gutter trollop she's supposed to be—despite a wardrobe made up almost entirely of mid-riff baring tank tops—but hot damn if these two can't dance. Evigan, in particular, is a transfixing screen presence, and if the film has anything even remotely close to a saving grace, it's her. (Or, at least, a combination of her and the Red Bull-fueled choreography by Jamal Sims, Dave Scott, and Hi-Hat.) For what they are—the highlights in an otherwise dim movie—the dance numbers are, as the characters would probably say, off the hook, especially the two sequences that bookend the film. The opener is a flash mob style dance party on a subway car—freaking out the elderly white passengers—and the big finish is set in a massive downpour as each character in Andie's new crew gets a chance to show off. Feel free to fast-forward through everything in between.
Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray, Video Quality
Step Up 2: The Streets foregoes much of the ultra-vivid, super-saturated, high contrast look of its fellow dance film compatriots, going instead for a look that's a bit more gritty and muted, something perhaps more appropriate for the crime-ridden city that gave us The Wire. (However, as a born and raised Marylander, I should say that although the film was shot there according to IMDB, Baltimore is almost entirely unrecognizable here.) Many, then, might find the film's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer to be somewhat underwhelming. There are some poppy colors in the club scenes, and clothing looks brighth—if only to visually separate the dancers from their surroundings—but most of the movie looks dull and drawn back. Black levels are deep—sometimes too deep—but contrast is a little flat. This is the film's intended look, though, so I can't really argue with it. The picture is, at least, fairly detailed and sharp. There are a few scenes that look slightly soft, but in general facial texture is well represented and lines look crisp (and unaided by halo-inducing edge enhancement). Grain is thin and looks entirely natural—no DNR abuses here—and I didn't spot any real compression-related troubles. Like the film itself, the picture quality is at its best during the big finale—the scene in the rain—which shows a commendable amount of depth and punch.
Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Disregard the back of the case, which claims this disc has a Dolby TrueHD mix, as what you'll actually find when you boot up the film is an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track. (Not that there would be too much difference between the two.) During the dance sequences and the club scenes, this track sounds fantastic. Obviously, hip-hop dominates the score, and the songs are represented with palpable, chest-thumping heft—bass response will definitely wake the neighbors if you crank this one up—and clean high-end clarity, allowing all the nuances of the music to be heard. These scenes are also the most immersive; chatter fills the soundfield, the songs are bled into the rears, and there's a nice sense of being there, right in the middle of the club. The sound design is noticeably—and understandably—less pronounced during the quieter parts of the film. You'll still hear occasional environmental ambience—street sounds, crickets, a bus moving between channels—but it's never as active or involving. Dialogue, both during the drama-driven scenes and the hectic club segments, is perfectly balanced, clean, and discernable. If you want some help catching all that hepcat street slang, though, English, French, and Spanish subtitles are available in easy-to-read white lettering.
Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Deleted Scenes (1080i, 22:33)
Includes eight deleted scenes—including a few extra dance numbers—with optional introductions by the director.
Music Videos (SD, 22:29)
Several music videos for songs featured in the film, including: "Low" - Flo Rida feat. T-Pain, "Ching- A-Ling" - Missy Elliott, "Killa" - Cherish feat. Yung Joc, "Hypnotized" - Plies feat. Akon, "Let It Go" - Brit & Alex, and an outtake of Cassie performing "Is It You."
Through Fresh Eyes: The Making of Step Up 2 (1080p, 12:23)
Here, we go behind-the-scenes with first-time director Jon M. Chu and the film's dancers and choreographers. Your average "making of" documentary.
Outlaws of Hip Hop: Meet the "410" (1080p, 4:54)
Brief interviews with the dancers in the 410—Black Thomas, Alex Welch, Ebone Johnson, Rynan Shawn, James Colter, Jeff Ogle, Alison Faulk, and famed choreographer Hi-Hat.
Robert Hoffman Video Prank (1080p, 1:59)
As if convenience store clerks don't have enough crap to put up with, here some poor guy has to deal with Robert Hoffman pulling a lame prank.
Post-Wrap Dancing (1080p, 1:38)
A not-so-cleverly hidden Easter egg, this short clip shows many of the film's dancers busting moves at the cast wrap party.
Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
You probably don't need my opinion of Step Up 2: The Streets. If you liked the first Step Up, or if you love dance films and don't mind sitting through a been-there-before plot for a few good bust-a-move sequences, then this is for you. And then are those for whom the very thought of a Disney-produced dance flick induces acid reflux, dry heaves, or worse. We all know who we are. At any rate, Step Up 2 makes a solid showing on Blu-ray, with a fairly strong transfer and a bass- heavy uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround track. Fans should also be on the lookout for Step Up 3D, coming to theaters this fall.
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Step Up 2: The Streets Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Chu: Blu-ray Looks Better than the Theaters - June 9, 2008
Director Jon M. Chu, whose film 'Step Up 2 The Streets' is coming to Blu-ray on July 15th, day-and-date with the DVD release commented about the release, "It's beautiful. The colors just pop. You get to see because we play a lot in the shadows. That's what we wanted ...
• Disney Brings Step Up 2 to Blu-ray - May 2, 2008
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the dance-inspired film 'Step Up 2 the Streets' to Blu-ray on July 15th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 1080p AVC and accompanied by a 5.1 PCM soundtrack. Both ...
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