I have to admit that my guilty pleasure are dance films. I love the choreography and music and the narratives, however majority of dance films I’ve seen have a similar narrative, which consists of being in a dance crew and competing in major dance competitions across the world.
This particular film specializes in street dance but what I like about this film is that it has that contrast with ballet and modern dance. Growing up as a keen dancer, I’ve both explored the freedom of Street and Ballet therefore this film and the sequel of all ‘Step Up’ films drew to my attention.
A brief synopsis of the film-
A young girl Andie (Briana Evigan) is part of a hip hop group 410 who are working towards competing at ‘The Streets’ (a major hip hop showdown competition) however Andie is lacking thoughts about her future and not working towards a career. Therefore she gets a last chance to join MSA (a dance school) as an opportunity to go further in her dance career. Because she is a street dancer, she has a hard time fitting in with others who do different dance styles to her. However, she befriends another outcast “Moose” played by Adam G. Sevani. Due to Andie spending most of her time at MSA, she misses rehearsals with 410, meaning she gets kicked out the team. Chase Collins played by (Robert Hoffman) tries to pick up the team spirit by suggesting they create their own MSA crew and get members who have crazy, unused talent. Therefore, a huge rivalry is created between 410 and MSA and they take it to the streets… that’s how the narrative continues, I won’t spoil it any further in case anyone wants to watch it!😛
What I enjoyed about the film-
I enjoyed the combination of dance styles throughout the film, street dance, ballet and modern and salsa dancing. It gives it more of an exciting thrill rather than it just being all about hip hop. Also the choice of non-diegetic music really captures the fun, fast pace of dance. I also enjoyed the funny prank MSA did on 410, I thought that was entertaining and different. My favourite scene from the film was the opening scene, where 410 did a flash mob dance on the subway. It was very capturing and unexpected, no dialogue, just imputed non-diegetic music and but diegetic sounds of the american subway. I liked the cinematography (done by Max Malkin) and editing (Nicholas Erasmus) particularly in this scene because the cuts were very sharp and fast to match the upbeat choreography and music. The particular proxemics I found intriguing was the use of a 180 degree pan, but it was filmed upside down as it tracked on of the crew members running from the police. I hadn’t seen that before so I found that very interesting. I also was very impressed with the ending- the choreography was amazing. It was different to end the final dance in the rain, I think from a spectator’s view that really emphasized the power of the dance along side the duration of it too. Another key scene that I was a fan of was when Chase selected the other members of the MSA crew. He mentioned a guy called “Hair” (played by Christopher Scott) who had a talent of tap dancing, and as Chase continued to mention the other members, in between each member, the camera would cut back to a close up shot of Hair tap dancing which I liked.
What I disliked about the film-
Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Briana’s acting, there were times where I felt like she was being too fake or obvious that she’s acting. It didn’t feel real. Also because she was cast to play the main female protagonist, there were times where she got pushed to the back quite a bit, wasn’t sure whether it was due to the choreography or because she couldn’t pull of particular moves, I’m not too sure. The scene that really cringed my out though was when they had to do improvisation in front of Dr.Collins and Andie’s performance cringed me out so bad I almost couldn’t watch. But who knows, that might’ve been the intended response the director wanted to get across. A hip hop dancer twerking and body popping to slow, romantic music… gross.
Overall, it is a good, chilled dance film with a straight-forward narrative that follows the cinematic arc in terms of having a problem that ends up being resolved and follows with a happy ending. The cinematic techniques were overall sound, and I am a big fan of the soundtrack. #noshamewithMissyElliot
I give this film 3/5*.