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Step Up 2 The Streets: Dance-Off Edition DVD Review

Step Up 2 The Streets movie poster Step Up 2 The Streets

Theatrical Release: February 14, 2008 / Running Time: 98 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jon M. Chu / Writers: Toni Ann Johnson, Karen Barna / Songs: see bottom of page

Cast: Briana Evigan (Andie West), Robert Hoffman (Chase Collins), Will Kemp (Director Blake Collins), Cassie Ventura (Sophie Donovan), Sonja Sohn (Sarah), Adam G. Sevani (Robert "Moose" Alexander III), Telisha Shaw (Felicia), Danielle Polanco (Missy), Christopher Scott (Hair), Mari Koda (Jenny Kidd), Janelle Cambridge (Fly), Luis Rosado (Monster), Harry Shum, Jr. (Cable), LaJon Dantzler (Smiles), Black Thomas (Tuck), Kejamel "K-Mel" Howell (K-Mel), Jeff "Rapid" Ogle (Rapid), Donnie "Crumbs" Counts (Crumbs), Ebone Johnson (Ebz), Rynan "Rainen" Paguio (Kid Rainen), Alison Faulk (Alstar), Shorty Welch (Shorty), Troy Kirby (Troy), Jeffery "Machine" McCann (Machine), Channing Tatum (Tyler Gage)

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Two summers ago, Touchstone Pictures made a contribution to the class of Bad Movies That Somehow Click With Audiences in Step Up.
This past February brought Step Up 2 The Streets, a hastily-produced follow-up unquestionably admissible to the league of Sequels For Whom Art Is a Non-Issue.

Without a direct return from any leading cast or crew member (Channing Tatum appears briefly), Step Up 2 is a sequel only in theme and design. Which is to say that it applies the "tough kid gone legit" storyline to a new troubled youth in the hoods of Baltimore.

That youth is Andie West (Briana Evigan), a teenaged girl with an endless supply of low-cut tops that also bare every inch of what can be considered midriff. Though not quite a full-blown delinquent, Andie has been missing school and running with a "crew" whose public disturbance antics -- like an extensive choreographed subway car dance -- make the local news and soar in Internet video views. At home, Andie is misunderstood by her mother's best friend (Sonja Sohn), who assumed custody when Mom died suddenly of cancer. One more incident and it's off to Texas to live with an aunt, the guardian threatens.

The lone holdover from "Step Up", Channing Tatum sticks around long enough for a dance-off that sets the sequel's plot in motion for Andie West (Briana Evigan). On the first day at her new arts school, Andie (Briana Evigan) gets some unrequested words of wisdom from bona fide BMOC Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman).

Facing such an undesirable fate, Andie agrees, as the result of a dance-off bet, to put in an audition at the Maryland School of the Arts (MSA), the site of the first movie's character-building transformation. Disregarded by some snooty classmates and the skeptical dance director (Will Kemp, a British villain of sorts), Andie and her street cred attract attention from Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman), a Big Man on Campus who is the director's brother.

When her school and afterschool responsibilities cause her to miss afternoon rehearsals, Andie gets bounced from her regimented longtime crew, the 410. Chase then encourages her to form a new crew out of underappreciated members of the MSA student body. An eclectic group that includes a heavily-accented Asian girl (Mari Koda), a video yearbook editor, a theatre stunt director, and a goofy geek (Adam G. Sevani), the MSA dance crew practices secretly after hours in hopes of making a splash in "The Streets", a fierce, impromptu underground competition.

There is no way for me to sugarcoat this: Step Up 2 The Streets is an atrocious movie. I'd quickly say the same about its predecessor, but that's about as far as one can or should go in comparing the two.

Seven art school outcasts are assembled for Andie and Chase's eclectic dance crew. Andie and Chase get about as close as possible in the inevitable rehearsal/bonding scenes that advance the inevitable romance.

There are certain flaws that are easy to point out: the inherent predictability, the broad familiarity (that's not a sequel gripe; it plagued the first Step Up also), the sheer unprofessionality of the acting and writing. But no individual shortcoming is remotely as bothersome as the whole awfulness of this filmic universe. The ghetto talk, the ceaseless fascination with gyration and contortion,
the depressingly narrow views of life and hard-living. It is all about as appealing to me as waterboarding.

I would argue that the movie severely overestimates the coolness of street dance in its many modern forms, but attendance levels dispute that. Not only did this sequel earn more than enough to offset a modest budget, it also grasped an audience considerably more global than the original. The first movie's draw could maybe have been a fluke; after two in a row, it's tough to blame Disney for promising their shareholders Step Up 3-D in 2010.

The earnings make me more apt to give a fist shake at Planet Earth than to try to appreciate the good that millions of people apparently see in the film. Those people may be glad to see Step Up 2 come to DVD and Blu-ray today in what the studio is, for some reason, calling a Dance-Off Edition.

Buy Step Up 2 The Streets on DVD from Amazon.com DVD Details

1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen,
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioned; Some Extras Subtitled
Release Date: July 15, 2008
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Reduced from $29.99)
Black Keepcase in Embossed Cardboard Slipcover
Also Available on Blu-ray Disc

VIDEO and AUDIO

Step Up 2 appears in its 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio, enhanced for 16x9 displays. There's not a great deal to say about the picture quality; it boasts the sharpness and clarity you'd want on something far more worthwhile. The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is filled to the brim with music (full song list at the bottom of this review), most of it none too friendly on the ears. (This somewhat explains why the DVD cover takes the unusual step of advertising music videos.) The mix remains largely limited to the front and center channels until the rain-soaked conclusion breathes atmosphere from all around while delivering aural peaks and jolts of bass.

Andie shares a bench with "endearing" geek/ropes-shower Moose (Adam G. Sevani) in this longest of the DVD's 8 deleted scenes. In "Ching-A-Ling / Shake Your Pom Pom", two of the movie's more tolerable songs and the disc's most inspired video, Missy Elliott reveals her power of shooting green laser beams from her fingers. Actress/singer Cassie Ventura may have had her big montage song performance deleted, but it's doubly preserved on this DVD. Plus she made the poster credits with fourth billing, no less.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS and PACKAGING

Eight deleted scenes (running 16:12 altogether) are offered. For dance, there is a solo performance and two much extended crew acts (one by the masked JabbaWockeeZ). More substantial are new character bits that add depth to "Moose" (Adam G. Sevani) and Sophie (Cassie Ventura) in their interactions with Andie and Chase.
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There is also an alternate version of an existing montage which uses Sophie/Cassie's performance of "Is It You" to tie the images together like a music video.

The menu claims the deletions are accompanied by optional commentary by director Jon M. Chu. His remarks are actually short video introductions, one for each scene and one for the whole group. Viewing the lot this way sheds light on the sequences and adds over 6 minutes to the section's runtime.

Under Music Videos, we find six items that run over 22 minutes with the "Play All" option. They are: Flo Rida featuring T. Pain - "Low" (3:48), Missy Elliott - "Ching-A-Ling / Shake Your Pom Pom" (4:00), girl group Cherish featuring Yung Joc - "Killa" (4:27), Plies featuring Akon - "Hypnotized" (3:11), twins Brit & Alex - "Let It Go" (3:20), and Cassie Ventura's "Is It You" (3:15).

Jon Chu keeps the top of his head warm while discussing his experiences as a first-time feature director in "Through Fresh Eyes." Blurred faces, loud shorts, and a Boston Red Sox cap are a few of the fun things you'll find as you "Meet the 410 - Outlaws of Hip Hop." Robert Hoffman's starting with the man in the mirror in this screencap of the colorful, pigeon-accented Step Up 2 DVD main menu.

The first four songs demonstrate some of the range in today's hip-hop/rap genre, while the latter two fall more into pop/R&B classification. None of the tunes are particularly memorable, nor are the videos that mostly blend footage of the artists in settings that resemble Step Up 2 locales with clips from the film.
Cassie's "video" is culled chiefly from her deleted song montage. All the videos are presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and either fullscreen or letterboxed widescreen.

"Through Fresh Eyes: The Making of Step Up 2" (12:22) stands out for enforcing the perspective of young first-time director Jon Chu, including childhood home movies and comments from his parents. It eventually settles into standard fare with choreography rehearsal clips and B-roll set footage.

"Outlaws of Hip Hop - Meet the 410" (4:52) profiles Andie's original dance crew, with plenty of dance footage and interview comments from the dancer-actors who portray them, choreographers, and crew.

Last but perhaps not least is "Robert Hoffman Video Prank", a 2-minute clip in which the lead actor and unidentified companions play a joke on a convenience store clerk by freezing and dancing. It's not funny but intrusive sound effects and editing are partly to blame for that.

A couple of Easter Eggs also turn up around the bonus features menus. The better one is a video (2:15) capturing director Jon Chu's call to Briana Evigan telling her she's got the part. There is also, from the deleted scenes menu, a Robert Hoffman-introduced, 75-second montage of background dancers during filming breaks.

The disc opens with promos for action movie Blu-rays and Miramax Films plus trailers for Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Extended DVD and Camp Rock DVD. These are joined on the Sneak Peeks menu by previews of "Samantha Who?": The Complete First Season, "Ugly Betty": The Complete Second Season, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Nightmare Before Christmas: Collector's Edition.

The busy animated main menu spices up its montage with graffiti, paint splatters, and a beat. The other colorful menus offer varying instrumental music and still imagery.

Inside the case, which slides into an embossed but repetitive cardboard slipcover, there's a booklet of Blu-ray propaganda, a chapters/extras insert that doubles as ads, and a $3 coupon for College Road Trip.

Much to the delight of everyone around her, Andie (Briana Evigan) does a crotch grab and air guitar move outside in the pouring rain. Chase and Andie give off a Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights vibe with their center stage moves at a Hispanic friend's barbeque party.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Calling Step Up 2 The Streets the worst movie I've seen this year doesn't feel right. Oh, it truly is the most horrible 2008 work I've yet to encounter and may well hold onto that title indefinitely. But this degree of wretchedness needs greater context than a few dozen films and six and a half months are able to provide. Of course, if you liked the first Step Up (presumably because of the dancing showcased), perhaps you'll enjoy this for the same reasons. In that case, though, we probably shouldn't turn to one another for movie advice. Still, you should be satisfied with the feature presentation and bonus features on Buena Vista's DVD.

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Kickin' It Old Skool • Flashdance • Saturday Night Fever • Shall We Dance? (2004) • Jumper • Step Up • G-Force

Step Up 2 the Streets Songs List: Busta Rhymes featuring Timbaland - "Get Down", Pitbull - "Midnight", T-Pain featuring Teddy Versetti - "Church", Enrique Iglesias - "Push", Plies featuring Akon - "Hypnotized", Cherish featuring Young Joc - "Killa", Brit & Alex - "Let It Go", Kevin Michael featuring Akil Dasan - "We All Want the Same Thing (Acoustic Version)", Koop - "Whenever There Is You", Breaking Benjamin - "Diary of Jane", Hope - "Bring Me Flowers", Montana Tucker, Sikora, Denial - "Ain't No Stressin'", Timbaland - "The Way I Are", Scarface featuring Trey Songz - "Girl You Know", Cupid featuring B.O.B. - "3-6-9", Missy Elliott - "Shake Your Pom Pom", Trick Daddy featuring International Jones - "Lights Off", Missy Elliott - "Ching-a-Ling", Webbie - "Independent", Sophia Fresh - "Lives in Da Club", Digital Underground - "The Humpty Dance", Timbaland - "Bounce", Casa De Leones - "No Te Veo (Remix)", Trey Songz featuring Plies - "Can't Help But Wait", B.O.B. featuring Wes Fif - "Haterz Everywhere", Laura Izibor - "Mmm...", Robin Thicke - "Everything I Can't Have", Yung Joc - "I'm a G", Flo Rida featuring T-Pain - "Low", KC - "Say Cheese", Ludacris - "The Potion", Kwamé - "Let's Go", Kwamé - "Slide N Crank", Pretty Ricky featuring Ckravin - "Work It", Swizz Beatz - "Money in the Bank", Cassie - "Is It You", Bayje - "Impossible"

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Reviewed July 15, 2008.



Text copyright 2008 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2008 Touchstone Pictures, Summit Entertainment, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
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