Eye For Film >> Movies >> Step Up 2 The Streets (2008) Film Review
Andie is an orphaned teenage girl hanging out with the wrong crowd. Her guardian threatens to send her to Texas. She sulks and pouts and tries emotional blackmail, but in vain. Then a persuasive older friends wins her one last chance - she must attend the Maryland College of the Arts and stick at a course in dance. Street dancing is what Andie loves, but the strict disciplines of ballet threaten to break both her body and her spirit. Will she stick at the course? Will she succeed in teaching her instructors that dance can be about self expression? And will she win over the guy of her dreams, the one she won't even admit she has an interest in?
Opening with a genuinely creepy sequence which raises questions about social exclusion and the latent expectation of violence in American society, Step Up 2 The Streets promptly ditches all serious social comment and descends into tepid teen romance - but that's okay, because its predictable pot isn't the real reason people will be going to see it anyway. It's adequately acted, better than many other dance films, and one can care enough about these kids to maintain an interest in what befalls them. Well paced and neatly put together, it successfully holds viewers' attention in between the bits that really matter: the dance sequences.
The production times necessary to making a feature film mean that dance like this will never seem completely fresh and new when it reaches the screen, so what matters is how well it's done. Fortunately, this film does it very well indeed. It's well integrated into the story and the variety of styles involved keep it interesting - it's also impressive simply as an athletic spectacle, regardless of one's own dance preferences. This enables the viewer to suspend disbelief as rival crews complete to demonstrate the latest, hottest thing. All the young dancers are eminently watchable and the final showdown contains some breathtaking set pieces.
If I have one criticism it's that the winning moves never seem quite as sharp as the ones which preceded them, but this may be due to the decision to go for realistic-looking lighting in the final scene, which doesn't provide sharp enough illumination - the camerawork isn't clever enough to compensate and one can't get a proper view of everything that's going on. This is, however, a minor issue with something which is generally well handled.
Many people simply loathe all dance films, and this one is unlikely to persuade them to change their minds. It's shallow and sometimes painfully twee. The message that we should all be accepted as equals even if we are from privileged white middle class backgrounds which give us lots of other advantages to begin with is sometimes a rather uncomfortable one, and one can't help but wonder if the underprivileged poor characters (other than the heroine) might make more interesting protagonists. But when it does its thing, Step Up 2 The Streets does it well, and it'll make you feel like dancing yourself.Reviewed on: 17 Mar 2008