Sylvain White, USA, 2007, 114 mins
Cast: Columbus Short, Meagan Good,
Review by Becky Day
Story wise this film has been done a thousand
times over; it's been jumbled, stuck back together and covered
in a different cellophane, but as with most dancing movies
who is really there for plot?
DJ (Short) is from a rough neighbourhood,
he is part of a dancing crew all of whom street dance:
popping, krumping and breaking. They step on a rival crew's
turf and, forced by DJ who feels the need to show off,
take them on in a battle (dance off) and win. The other
crew do not appreciate being shown up and jump DJ and his
friends in the street and in all the chaos DJ’s brother
is shot dead.
After this DJ is sent to Atlanta to study at Truth University
where he is introduced to a whole other world of Dance:
stepping. He falls for a girl, April (Good), as soon as
he sets foot on the campus and consequently joins a fraternity
(a group associated for a common purpose or interest) to
impress her. There are two main fraternities: “Theta
nu Theta” v. “Mu Gamma”(the seven-year
running champions). DJ has to learn to work as a team or
risk losing everything.
With writers who seem to have got
the classic cliché formula
to a tee and a cast from all those cliché dance movies
then you can't really expect too much. However, if you want
to see some dancing then you are in for a treat. Flips, freezes,
hip-hop competitions this film is packed with phenomenal
and innovative performances that will have you in awe.
Unfortunately director White decided to over use special
effects such as: excessively changing the shot, speeding
up or slow motion to make the moves more impressive which
were not necessary, even annoying at times and take the focus
away from the reality of stepping. White obviously wanted
to make the sequences impressive and coming from a background
in music videos he obviously got carried away and lost the
point of the film.
White, though not a stranger to film
having directed the rehashed/spin off I’ll Always know what you did last
summer says: “The single most important part of making
any film is the casting.” Maybe if he thought an original
script were as important we would be watching a better film.
Short who plays DJ faired OK in this film. The script being
what it is does not do wonders for him, but he did get to
show off his dancing skills; there were no doubles used in
the film. Short has dabbled in all areas and has a long history
in dance; beginning his career in the great Broadway show
Stomp, choreographing stars such as Britney Spears and acting
in TV and film including, not surprisingly, You got served.
One person in this production who you can’t fault
is Dave Scott, the choreographer. His sequences and combinations
of stomping, krumping, breaking, popping, hip-hop, street
style and new moves all make for great screen time.
Half the time you are amazed and the other half you are
One memorable moment sticks out as the rival teams shout
and stomp at each other. DJ makes a memorable come back leading
his crew putting on gay voice: “Gamma Mu? One word:
It was a little disappointing that
you don’t learn
much about the stepping history and as the film was based
around this type of dance, it would have been nice to know
a bit more about it.
People continually ask why movies
such as this are made again and again. The answer is because
people like easy to watch happy movies, it’s entertaining, fun and it doesn’t