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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Step Up 2 the Streets

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#1 of 10 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 08 2008 - 03:08 PM

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Step Up 2 the Streets (Blu-ray)
Directed by John M. Chu

Studio: Touchstone
Year: 2008
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 94 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Audio: PCM 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 34.99

Release Date: July 15, 2008
Review Date: July 8, 2008


The Film

2.5/5

Say what you will about the “let’s put on a show” musicals of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. They may be almost sixty years old, but they’re no less entertaining than today’s modern counterparts, most recently illustrated by John Chu’s Step Up 2 the Streets. The youthful energy, the music of the day, the unmistakable talent: it’s all there to see in those old MGM shows where swing was king or in today’s cinematic world where hip-hop reigns supreme. The music has changed, but the song remains stubbornly the same.

And the story here is as hackneyed as it was in Mickey and Judy’s day: troubled high school teen Andie (Briana Evigan) gets kicked out of school and is on the verge of being shipped off to relatives in Texas when she gets one more chance to make it in Baltimore by being allowed to audition for the prestigious MSA (Maryland School of the Arts). She’s a knockout street dancer, one of the stars of the reigning street crew “410.” Though hip-hop doesn’t quite jibe with ballet and jazz that is part of the school’s curriculum, head of the school Blake Collins (Will Kemp) decides there is enough raw talent there to give her a shot. Blake’s younger brother Chase (Robert Hoffman) is also into street dancing and longs to form an MSA crew and enter it in the annual street dance competition known (unsurprisingly) as “The Streets.” But Andie’s old crew members don’t like the freaks she’s hanging out with at her new school, and she’s summarily dismissed by their head dancer Tuck (Black Thomas). So, can Andie and Chase find enough talent at MSA to mount a challenge to the established kingpins of street dance?

The plot is wafer thin and completely predictable (script by Toni Ann Johnson and Karen Barna), but the obvious reason for the film’s existence is the plentiful array of street dances that fill the film’s 94 minutes. Yes, there’s a final dance-off between the two rival crews (was that ever in doubt?), but truth be told, John Chu’s direction of the dance sequences doesn’t quite have the galvanizing force and consistent wow moments that can be found in Ian Rashid’s similar themed hip-hop dance movie from 2008 How She Move. The routines here are more splintered in their construction, the moves are filmed too much from the waist up robbing us of much of the interesting footwork, and editing is herky-jerky in a distracting way. Chu does stage one dancing sequence of surprising elegance and lilt: an impromptu salsa number involving multiple couples at a backyard cookout. More expressive and more interesting than any of the break dancing, hip-hopping, stepping, and locking that make up the majority of the choreography, this moment is truly a special one in the film, beautifully showcasing the smooth moves of the actors and the blossoming love between the film’s two primary protagonists.

Both Briana Evigan and Robert Hoffman have plenty of slick moves to show and make for a lovely romantic couple even if they do appear to be a few years too old for high school. Adam G. Sevani’s Moose is the typically nerdy goof with hidden talents while Cassie Ventura’s Sarah is the closest thing the film has to a villainess. Fans of the original Step Up will be thrilled to see that movie’s breakout star Channing Tatum in a flashy number with trampolines. There’s also a winning romantic ballad “We All Want the Same Thing” which is particularly enjoyable.

Step Up 2 the Streets will entertain those folks who can’t get enough of step dancing, but if I were having to choose between which of the two hip-hop movies this year I’d want to see, I’d go with How She Move.


Video Quality

4/5

The film’s 1.85:1 aspect ratio is presented on this Blu-ray disc in 1080p using the AVC codec. The film’s desaturated look doesn’t aid the movie in looking as three dimensional as those Blu-rays whose colors pop with more fully saturated hues, but more problematic are the erratic black levels and some occasional edge ringing which sometimes draw attention to themselves. Sharpness is very good, however, and the dingy look is probably right for the gritty street feel the director is going for. The film has been divided into 12 chapters.

Audio Quality

4/5

Though the liner notes claim the disc contains a Dolby TrueHD track, the audio is actually PCM 5.1 (6.9 Mbps), and it’s strong with all the hip-hop music that punctuates the mix (especially the almost endlessly throbbing LFE channel). There isn’t much use made of the surrounds for ambient effects, however, which is a bit surprising and something of a letdown. Crowd noises and rain (the final number is done in the rain) might have been more interestingly compiled to give some life to the surround channels between dance breaks. There is also a tendency of some of the more inexperienced actors to mumble a bit which the music tends to overwhelm.

Special Features

3/5

The disc showcases 8 deleted scenes (including two complete step routines by Jabbawockeez and West Coast Riders that are only excerpted in the movie) which can be played with or without director John Chu’s introductions. They’re presented in 1080i and last a combined total of 22 ½ minutes.

“Thru Fresh Eyes: The Making of Step Up 2is a 12 ½ minute overview of the preparations for filming by first time feature director John Chu. There are also interviews with the principal cast members who express how important dancing is to their lives. The featurette is presented in 1080p.

“Outlaws of Hip Hop - Meet the ‘410’ ” is a 5-minute introduction to the members of the 410 street crew and their choreographer Hi-Hat. The featurette is also in 1080p.

6 music videos, five of which feature music from the film and one music outtake, are offered in 480i. The viewer may watch all six in one 22 ½ minute chunk, or watch each one separately. They are “Low” (3:50), “Ching-a-ling” (4:06), “Killa” (4:31), “Hypnotized” (3:12), “Let It Go” (3:27), and the outtake “Is It You?
Star Robert Hoffman and selected cast members play a video prank on an unsuspecting convenience store clerk in a 2-minute vignette.

I found 3 Easter Eggs by not even looking hard: background dancers on the set (1 ¼ minutes), Adam kisses Cassie (1 ½ minutes), and some post wrap dancing (1 ½ minutes). All are in 1080p.

There are previews on the disc for a series of Miramax Blu-ray releases, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.

In Conclusion

2.5/5 (not an average)

Step Up 2 the Streets is another hip-hop dance extravaganza. If teen angst combined with slick street dancing is your thing, by all means give this Blu-ray a spin.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted July 09 2008 - 04:58 AM

No offense intended whatsoever to MattH. but, um, least wanted Blu-ray review ever.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
--Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker

#3 of 10 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted July 09 2008 - 09:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Brashear
No offense intended whatsoever to MattH. but, um, least wanted Blu-ray review ever.

None taken. I'm just doing my job. And coming up on Friday will be COLLEGE ROAD TRIP on Blu-ray. You may feel similarly about that.

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Jonathon M

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Posted July 09 2008 - 09:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travis Brashear
No offense intended whatsoever to MattH. but, um, least wanted Blu-ray review ever.

Travis,

That comment was completely uncalled for. MattH clearly mentioned the most important aspect of the disc; the Nightmare Before Christmas trailer.

Although I must say, I'm curious about the resolution of said trailer. 1080p? Posted Image

In all seriousness, this film will be forever burned in my memory as the first and only session I've ever ran at my work where the print broke (I had only just started). The schedule was killer that week (3 screens with individual booths), and I'd already darted off to one of the other booths. No-one came out and mentioned it. I go to check it after about 10 mins or so, and no-one had really given a toss.

#5 of 10 OFFLINE   Paul Anthony

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Posted July 09 2008 - 04:53 PM

Thanks for the review, I'm ordering 10 copies. Posted Image

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted July 10 2008 - 03:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathon M
Travis,

That comment was completely uncalled for.

Really? Completely? Again, I made it clear, and fully meant it, that no offense was intended to Matt--he's just doing his job. My criticism is directed at Buena Vista for even sending out review copies of this, since I can't imagine there is enough of a target audience for this, ahem, film here at HTF that would justify Matt's efforts. I also can't imagine said target audience, here or anywhere else, is all that interested in investigating the quality of the technical presentation for this (*shudder*) film before purchasing it either. Maybe I'm wrong...but I doubt it.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
--Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker

#7 of 10 OFFLINE   stephen^wilson

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Posted July 10 2008 - 11:02 PM

lol well I like all kinds of films and actually bought this,so I for one am very interested to find out what other people think about the technical presentation of this *film*,so thanks for the review matt Posted Image

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted July 11 2008 - 03:55 AM

Wow. Um. 'Kay. There's one...
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
--Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Matt Butler

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Posted July 14 2008 - 04:40 PM

Travis,
Step Up 2 may not be fine art but there is no need for thread crapping. Some people have guilty pleasures and this may be one of them. Youve made it clear that you have no interest so why keep coming back?
My Blu Rays
http://www.blu-ray.c...ol...=Dj Matt B

Favorite films of all time in no order
1. Zodiac 2. Dawn of the Dead (1978) 3. The Good The Bad and The Ugly 4. Blade Runner 5. The Warriors 6. Dark Knight 7. The Godfather  8. Bullitt 9. Experiment in Terror 10. Raiders of the Lost...

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   Travis Brashear

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Posted July 15 2008 - 08:37 AM

Oh no, don't mistake this for threadcrapping--I'm taking issue with the studio offering this as a review title and basically making MattH. feel a responsibility to review a title very few viewers (especially at the HTF) will be interested in. MattH.'s efforts, in other words, aren't justified by the product. Disagree all you want, but I'm not simply saying "this movie sucks". On the other hand, I don't really have anything more to say on the subject so (assuming you don't desire to practice verbal combat with me) you can take heart that I won't be opining further...
Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "The world is a fine place and worth fighting for." I agree with the second part...
--Det. William Somerset, SE7EN

http://www.dvdanthol...-movielist.html), http://LDDb.com/coll....user=Filmmaker





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