maandag 15 oktober 2012

Stepping it Up

I watch a lot of movies, and I really love musicals and dance movies. Especially when they are so good, that they make you want to dance. A couple of years ago I saw the trailer of Step Up and I knew right then and there that I wanted to see it in the movie theatre. I went with my sister and we loved it. So it was no discussion we should go to number two... and three. We eventually watched the fourth in the comfort of our own home. There are a lot of dance movies out there, but I wanted to take a closer look at the Step Up-series. So here's a short (sort of) review of them all, in relation to each other.

The First: Step Up (2006)
Combining dancing styles had been done before (see Save the Last Dance), but Step Up was loaded with dancing. There was hiphop, classical ballet, not to mention a very nice club dance. Everything about this movie suprised me. The way the characters clicked and how they all had a storyline. They weren't just the extra's. True, the dialogue wasn't the best. A lot of the time it was very cliché, especially the romantic stuff. But the backstory about Tyler and his friends was done beautifully. And the dancing more than made up for it. To be honest: That's the most important thing in a dance movie. And let me tell ya, they really had the skills. There wasn't a move they made that didn't make you wish you could do it too. It looked beautiful when it needed to be, was powerful at times and could be simply amazing, hot or funny. The movie was funny, full of energy - thanks to the amazing choreographies and rightly picked music - and had great emotional stuff as well. Besides, who wouldn't want to be in a lift by Channing Tatum??? *blush* In order to compare and contrast I give it: 
- Four stars.

Number two will have to do: Step Up 2 - The Streets (2008) 
Only two years later a sequel came to play. While Step Up tried to show both sides of the group (meaning rich and those with less money), The Streets focused mainly on Andie. A close friend of Tyler who has now made it and is touring with a company. Andie is having trouble with her substitute family and her only way to stay close to her gang/crew is by going to Maryland School of the Arts (where Tyler attended first). Because of her busy school schedule, she gets kicked out of the gang. But luckily she meets an amazing group of dancers at Maryland who also want to make it on the streets. Kind of a lame story, but dancing is the most important part. So, even though the story is worse than the first one and the music leaves much to be desired, they make up for it in several ways.
One: They bring back Tyler for a couple of minutes and he battles with Andie (dancing of course!). It's awesome and sets the tone for the movie.
Two: Moose! He may not be a high school hunk or jock, but he has some serious skills, talent, moves, you name it. He is one of the reasons to watch this movie.
Three: Andie's new crew. They are the most amazing dancers, each with their own style. It gives the movie something extra, because it gives you something new to watch (instead of a lot of combinations with classical ballet).
Four: In this crew Harry Shum Jr. makes his first appearance. Later to be very well known for his work in Glee.
Five: Water... There's a dance scene in water. It's awesome, but the downside is that it's in the dark. This makes it sometimes harder to see what the dancers are doing. 

All in all, it's a fun movie and some of the dances can really surprise you. They definitely brought something new to the game, but it wasn't as strong as the first one. Not entirely succesful, but I would give it - three and a half stars.

Three should be more: Step Up 3D (2010) 
Another two years pass and it's time for a three dimensional version. Why? That's a good question, because I still don't know. I'm gonna be really short about this one. The movie focusses on Luke who has his own studio, but would rather be a director, and the girl Natalie who happends to have a history with the crew they will be battling against. Luckily there's Moose, who should have been going to the university, but chooses dance instead. On that note: A dance movie about a guy who doesn't love dancing so much? Not a great idea. Sure Luke is eye candy, but it's supposed to be about dancing. The story is lame, so focus on the moves. I don't know... I just don't get the choices that were made in this movie. I haven't seen this movie, since I first watched in the theatre. But as I recall, the music had a lot of bad choices in them (my oppinion, but still) and the dancing wasn't as great. The other dance routines were inspiring, surprising and creative. These didn't have the same punch. Then there's the title, 3D. I though it could have been cool, but it was all for nothing. The movie shouldn't have been in 3D, because it added nothing. It's a nice trick to play with, but in this movie it felt totally lost. It still had a couple of good things going on as well:
One: Bringing Moose back. He's awesome, he should have had the leading role in this piece.
Two: Bringing the crew back from The Streets. They are awesome and I cannot argue with a movie that still remembers where it came from. It's partly hommage in a way, but mostly staying true to it's roots.
Three: Bringing the water back. It might have been lame, but Moose ownes it out there. Love the guy!
Four: Yep, there's always time for some Sinatra. Moose dancing with Camille - from movies one and two - was so cute. It's not just hiphop, but it also has style. That's why with all my negativity on this movie, it still gets - three stars.

We want some more: Step Up 4 - Miami Heat (2012)
After seeing three, I really didn't feel like some more. But the trailer was awesome. It showed that after six years you could still be creative and find a new, fresh way to make a dance movie.  Once again, the story is not that important (the lines are cheesy, just watch the trailer), but the dancing: Wow. If I remember correctly the stars in this movie aren't even actors, but winners from the show So You Think You Can Dance and a topmodel. And they made the right choice. Dancing is what matters. What made it fresh are the flash-mobs. The crew pops up somewhere, does an amazing performance and dissappears again. It breathes power, creativity and the performances are big. The music choice was good and the choreography was tight. Once again a movie that could inspire you to start dancing yourself. It's not the story, but the setting/location did help. Somehow this movie could make you think you are watching a completely new movie. In a certain way - though I'm not totally sure what way - it's like nothing the other movies were. Sure, there's the love story again. Not to mention the battle with which someone wants to win money... but in this version, the crisis is involved. Unlike the previous 3D movie, where the crew could loose their studio, in this movie it's about the possibility to loose their neighbourhood. Reasons to watch this movie?
One: Some familiar faces, like my beloved Moose. And the crew from the second movie. Even if it's only for seconds, it's still nice to see them again. 
Two: the amazing flash-mobs. They really went all out and even though I've never seen a real flash mob, they can make you believe in beautiful, wonderful things. Because you imagine things like this really happening.
Three: Pretty much all the dance routins, but also because of the final dance between the two lovers up on the roof. One reason these are so good, is because they're not simply over in a minute, but the dance routines last longer. Which means: more to enjoy.
Four: The refreshing way it tells it's story. If you only like the original, this movie is still a must see. So I'd say were back on track. A solid - four stars!

Here comes Buffy:
Nice side note/trivia is that the director and choreographer of Step Up, Anne Fletcher, was an assistant choreographer for Buffy's musical episode Once More, With Feeling. Sorry, couldn't help myself :P.

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