Street Dance 3D (DVD)
Veteran music video directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini make the leap to feature films with this high-energy dance drama about a street dance crew a...
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Review of "Street Dance 3D (DVD)"
This is a review of the film only.
SummaryYear of Production: 2010
Director: Max Giwa & Dania Pasquini
Screen Writer: Adam Green
Total Running Time: 98 Minutes
UK Certificate: PG
Region 2 DVD Release Date: 27/09/2010
A street dance crew from London succeeds in making it through to the UK finals but victory is snatched away from them when the crew leader Jay announces that he needs a break from it all. Leaving girlfriend Carly in the lurch, it’s not long before the crew starts to disband, thanks to a lack of direction and places to rehearse. When Carly’s not practicing with her crew, she works in a local café but a chance encounter one lunchtime offers a new opportunity.Whilst delivering sandwiches to a local ballet school, Carly meets a ballet instructor named Helena, who shows an interest in what Carly’s crew does. In spite of a disastrous performance at a local shopping centre, Helena offers Carly the opportunity to use the ballet school facilities for practice. There’s only one catch. In order to use the school for free, Carly must include four of Helena’s students in the crew – even though they haven’t even got a clue what street dance is, let alone how to do it…
I Like To Move It, Move It
Whether they choose to admit it or not, one of the most hackneyed, cliché-ridden movie genres of all time must be the ‘dance movie’. It doesn’t matter whether they feature street dance, salsa, ballroom or any other kind of move, the principles remain the same. The writers of these movies simply can’t help themselves. It seems that dance is an all-powerful, all-encompassing medium that units people through grief, betrayal and adversity and audiences seem to love it. Street Dance is a UK production that plays to the same formula as countless US dance movies like Step Up and Save The Last Dance. Rather like those two movies, it yields very few surprises, scores very highly on the eye candy meter and passes by like a waft of sugary air. It’s really hard not to like films like this though. You can’t watch a movie like Street Dance and expect something deep and profound but given that there’s a budding dancer inside every one of us (go on, admit it) it’s hard not to enjoy it just a little.The Street Dance concept seems to work better in an English production that it does from the US. The English music scene is rather more experimental than its US counterpart and whilst the States continue to be dominated by rap music, the UK scene is far more willing and able to mix things up a bit. What that means is that, for the soundtrack alone, Street Dance leaves its counterparts standing. At times, it feels like an extended episode of Top of the Pops, with one rousing ‘choon’ after another, but when cranked up through a good surround system, it’s a pretty funky little number. Admittedly, it appeals more to fans of urban/dance/grime music but as a representation of the current music scene, it’s not bad at all.
The 3D helps enormously here, too. Whilst the film works perfectly well in a 2D format, the 3D element really brings some of the moves to life. The directors have very little flair when it comes to the visuals (the best they can stretch to is probably a few frozen mid-air shots) but viewed those three 3D spectacles, this film seems even more exciting and upbeat. It's not gratuitous either. many 3D films suffer from endless, gratuitous things flying towards the camera but here the 3D just enhances the production rather than dominating it.
See I Don’t Understand How You’re Number OneIt’s also a bit of a showcase for those acts that have risen to popularity through mainstream shows like Britain’s Got Talent and so there are appearances from George Sampson and Diversity (BGT winners) and Flawless (BGT runner-up). George Sampson is perfectly placed and Diversity maintain a superior distance from it all with one, adrenalin-charged appearance that forms the centrepiece of the narrative. Curiously, Flawless get a lot more coverage here, positioned as the ‘bad guys’ of the piece by playing our crew’s major rivals, Surge. It’s a logical way to integrate these popular names into the film, although most will question the decision to give Flawless a lot more screen time than the (vastly superior) Diversity.
The actual street dancing is, perhaps, less impressive than you might expect. The cast can all certainly throw down the moves, but there’s no escalation of their achievements as the narrative runs its course. The fact is that they seem as good when they first start as they do when they end, and there’s a disappointing lack of ‘wow!’ moments peppered throughout the proceedings. Certainly, the conclusion is suitably dramatic (and the outcome assured) but there’s not quite as much innovation here as you might expect. Indeed, the professionals (Flawless and Diversity) really show the main crew how it’s done.Of course, examined in anything other than a very superficial way, Street Dance leaves rather a lot to be desired.
Who Left The Edge Out?
The whole production is astoundingly tame. Despite the fact that the dancers are all young adults, there’s a bitingly sanitised feel to the whole thing, with the writers quite clearly avoiding anything even remotely controversial. There’s hardly any bad language, for starters, and conflict here is resolved via a food fight as opposed to something a little more serious. The production smells of the BBC from start to finish, which is hardly surprising as it was partly funded by BBC Films and the National Lottery. It seems that the makers have set about creating a family/children’s movie based on material that should, by rights, consider more mature themes. The National Lottery influence also seems to insist that the film does its best to look like a picture postcard of London, with countless, pointless shots of the skyline and famous landmarks, which add nothing to the story but, apparently, will appeal to foreign audiences.It’s all a bit of a cop out. The sexuality here is restricted to the absolute minimum. You could be forgiven for thinking that young adults in love simply hold hands and dance the night away for all that Street Dance would have you believe. Any of the cultural issues associated with the Street Dance movement are brushed conveniently to one side, assuming that it’s all just a bunch of kids having a laugh. Issues of knife crime, gun culture and drug abuse are all completely ignored here, which seems quite ridiculously unbelievable given the East London setting. Acknowledging these issues wouldn’t have necessarily made the film unsuitable for younger viewers but the reality is that ignoring them just seems to patronise everyone.
The film has as much edge as a furry ball. The competitions are far too polished and staged. The emergence of the Street Dance movement comes, of course, from the streets and to see it sanitised and glossed up in this way must come as an insult to some of the founders. The ballet dancers of Helena’s school comment that Carly’s crew seem pretty angry, but actually that’s just not true. They might break dance and body pop but they do so with big grins on their faces and a wholesome kind of attitude that actually makes them look more like professional backing dancers than real street dancers. There are clues of this when you examine the performances from Flawless (as Surge). Whilst they too are now quite polished, there’s a cheeky subversive edge to some of their moves and they simply feel more ‘real’.
It All Goes a Bit Billy ElliottThe marriage between the street dancers and the ballet dancers couldn’t be more typically British if it tried. British writers and directors love the triumph of culture clash and the marriage of styles here waters things down even more. In much the same way as horror directors struggle to persuade stunt dogs to look vicious, dance movie directors have a hard time persuading us that people who clearly can *really* dance struggle with the material. This cues some painfully silly confrontation between the ballet dancers, who are portrayed as uptight and stuck up and generally pretty foolish until the street dancers ‘unlock’ the hidden rebels within them. This is particularly tiresome with lead male and love interest Tomas, who is clearly an outstanding professional dancer who simply couldn’t pretend for one second that he can’t dance. It’s as though the rhythm is genetically locked into him and as much as he tries to pretend otherwise he just can’t ‘not dance’.
There are problems, too, with the casting here. Whilst many of the street dancers look and sound the part, Nichola Burley is a strange choice for the new leader of the crew. In a move that seems to be sating the need to avoid being accused of racial stereotyping, Burley takes up the mantle as Carly, the leader of our heroes. She can certainly move, but her northern roots seem to make no sense here. How did she come to be living and working in London and how did she get into the whole street dance thing? The characterisation here is really, really superficial. Burley simply doesn’t fit and is, ironically, exposed by the dominance of black dancers in all the other street dance crews. Indeed, as much as the writers have probably tried to avoid racial stereotyping, much of the film could be seen to work against them. Flawless (all black guys) are presented as the bad guys of the picture, with the wholesome middle-class white dancers saving the day. Perhaps it’s looking at the whole thing too deeply, but the contrast (right down to our crew’s brilliant-white costume) seems to stand out after a while.
Who’s WhoIt’s fortunate, then, that whilst the casting choices aren’t necessarily authentic, the film still boasts a strong cast of good dancers and plenty of eye candy. Nichola Burley (Carly) is a strange choice for the leader of the crew, but she’s a good movie and effectively passionate about what she’s doing. This isn’t the strongest of performances for the actress though. When she needs to be more emotional, she plays it all a bit ‘Grange Hill’ and after a rather more striking turn in Donkey Punch, this feels like a step down if truth were told.
Richard Winsor was recently voted by Elle magazine as the sexiest dancer in the world and when you’ve watched Street Dance, you’re unlikely to disagree. He’s a bit smarmy and certainly wooden when it comes to the dialogue, but he looks fantastic from start to finish. Sianad Gregory is equally stunning and fresh from her role in Lesbian Vampire Killers, she’s rather more watchable here as stuck-up Chloe. There’s a reasonably good turn from Charlotte Rampling as the ballet teacher that sees promise in Carly, although Rampling just seems to play herself most of the time, and this is no exception. Jeremy Sheffield (himself a former ballet dancer) pops up for a wasted cameo and Eleanor Bron desperately overacts as an uptight French ballet mistress.
Critical AcclaimAlthough based on just 21 reviews, the score on www.rottentomatoes.com is quite impressive, at 81%.
Alan Jones at Radio Times said:“The classical/hip-hop/rap soundtrack is smoking and the 3-D visuals add immeasurably to the all-action routines.”
Leslie Felperin at Variety said:“Deeply unoriginal yet utterly entrancing.”
What PlipPlop Says
There’s something very infectious about StreetDance that combines great moves with a great looking cast to produce a rousing slice of entertainment. By its very definition, StreetDance is rather clichéd and any attempt to look beyond the most superficial qualities of the film is to be avoided. The wholesome nature of this production won’t appeal to everyone though. This is a film aimed squarely at the very youngest of audiences, which makes the adult audience members feel all the more inappropriate when they struggle to control their desire to shout ‘phwoargh!’ at the unquestionably attractive cast members.Recommended nonetheless.
Product Information : Street Dance 3D (DVD)
Manufacturer's product descriptionVeteran music video directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini make the leap to feature films with this high-energy dance drama about a street dance crew and a group of Royal ballet dancers who strive to find a common ground while sharing the same rehearsal space. Before long, the two disparate groups have forged an unlikely alliance and created an exciting new form of modern dance.<BR><BR>Britain’s Got Talent stars Flawless, Diversity and George Sampson make their stunning debuts on film in this ground breaking 3D event. Prepare for some serious eye candy and inspiration in terms of dance, with some particularly stunning dance sequences from the beginning of the film, through the full 90 minutes plus. For dancers and fans alike, this is a must-own DVD!
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