Step Up 2 the Streets My Reviews 30 MAR 2008

Step Up 2It’s not where you’re from. It’s where you’re at.

Andie (Briana Evigan) is a misguided troublemaker who is passionate about street dancing and is part of the infamous 410 crew that lead the pack when it comes to the illegal street dancing competition scene. However, Andie’s foster mother is becoming increasingly tired of the crime and harassment of 410 and gives Andie the ultimatum of either cleaning up her act or being shipped off to Texas to go and live with her aunt.

Of course, this is more than a little upsetting to Andie who heads out to the streets, only to be turned back by friend and dance legend, Tyler Gage (Channing Tatum) who persuades her to audition for the upper class Maryland School of Arts. The only problem is, this move to try and keep her in the city is the move that is going to force her out of her crew and off of the street.

On the other side of the coin is Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman) who is a skilled dancer and popular with the ladies, but who lives in his older brother’s shadow at the Maryland School of Arts. He desperately wants to gain some street cred and sees Andie as his ticket into this not always so friendly world of dance.

Gathering a motley bunch of misfits and losers who only have one thing in common and that is the desire to street dance, Chase and Andie seek to create their own crew of note – and take up the challenge of the streets!

Step Up 2 the Streets is the 2008 sequel to the 2006 hit dance movie, Step Up. This time around though, Anne Fletcher takes a step back from the director’s chair and hands over the reins to Jon M. Chu who does a more than competent job in bringing this street dance-filled spectacular to the big screen. The movie is choreographed by Jamal Sims, Hi-Hat (Bring It On) and Dave Scott (Stomp the Yard).

Being a sequel Step Up 2 already has boots to fill and this is always a major problem for any movie that tries to follow on from the original. There are some nice touches to tie the two movies together, like including a sequence with Channing Tatum from the first movie and also keeping the Maryland School of Arts as the main location but from there on out, Step Up 2 has to stand on its own two feet. Unfortunately it never quite achieves this, ending up as almost a mirrored version of the original which is a slight pity because it would have been nice to see the new director try a little something different from the recipe that made the first movie such a success.

Step Up 2 the Streets is a very tried and tested formula about the underdog misfits banding together to try and do well in some or other “competition” and as such is riddled with clichés and tired story sequences. However, thanks to the skill with which the movie is directed, the likeable and good-looking cast and the brilliant dance choreography throughout, it ends up being greater than the sum of its parts and is actually quite a fun movie to watch, even if you know exactly where it is going to end at.

Honestly the level of acting certainly isn’t the most in depth that you will find on screen, but this young cast certainly weren’t assembled based on their acting skills alone. It is the dancing that matters and it is in the dancing that they all excel. Relatively unknown lead actress, 21 year-old Briana Evigan dances as good as she looks and manages to capture the screen with her charm and skills. She is instantly likeable and that helps because without her and the equally charming and good-looking Robert Hoffman the movie might not have been as an enjoyable experience as what it turned out to be. Robert himself is no stranger to dance-themed movies, having appeared in both You Got Served and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.

Adam G. Sevani plays the part of the likeable eccentric boy Moose (who desperately needs a haircut) while well-known R&B artist Cassie Ventura gets to play the part of the jealous ex-girlfriend. Black Thomas, an extremely well-build and fairly unknown actor gets to play the stereo-typical Tuck and unfortunately he turns out to be probably one of worst actors of the lot, turning out a very one-dimensional and frankly uninspired performance. The rest of the cast is a pretty motley bunch, not grabbing a lot of talking screen time apart from a couple of throwaway lines and jokes, but as I mentioned before, they weren’t hired for their acting abilities anyway.

The director makes a nice visual contrast between the scenes at school and on the streets, using clever lighting tricks to keep the two apart and give the street more of a rougher edge. Of course, you need a lot of non-action shots to drive the story along, but in a movie like this, it is the choreography and dance sequences that matter the most. And in that respect Step Up 2 certainly does not disappoint. The movie shows off a fairly broad spectrum of dancing, but naturally the most screen time gets dedicated to street dancing and one can only be left saying “Wow!”, particularly as the final sequence in the water gets underway.

All the dancers are particularly highly skilled in this art form and the movements, tricks and style is about the best you will see anywhere in the world and combined with the particularly striking choreographed routines, the dance sequences are guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat and your jaw on the floor. Acrobatic tricks abound and everything is captured in fluid cinematography that is reminiscent of a long music video.

Visually Step Up 2 oozes style and street cred and Jon Chu has managed to visually capture the spirit of today’s Inner City life amongst young people (which I will never get because I just don’t understand how wearing a heavy gold chain and your cap twisted to the side gives you street cred. Guess I am just getting old).

Of course, any movie with “the Street” in its name is bound to feature a hip-hop laden soundtrack and Step Up 2 certainly doesn’t disappoint. It brings some of the biggest songs and biggest guns of the hour to the stage, featuring Flo Rida, Missy Elliot, Akon and Cassie just to name a few. And even as a hater of this particular style of music, I have to admit that the music director has got it right, fusing the music to the movie perfectly in order to instil that energy required to make this type of movie work. Stylistically everything about the soundtrack just works and you will be hard-pressed not to enjoy the pounding beats they dish out throughout the experience.

Step Up 2 the Streets is not the most of original of movies and is jam-packed full of clichés, but with extremely good looking leads like these and absolutely fantastic dance sequences which will leave your jaw on the floor, means that this movie turns out to be a thoroughly enjoyable watch for both you and your partner when the two of you are just looking for some simplistic popcorn-chewing viewing.

And of course, to any fans of street dancing out there, you will definitely not be disappointed!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.