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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz


A Little Background     Openers     


    Modus Operandi     The Scorecard:     

Emotive Connection      Audio     Operations    Extras     The Movie     Equipment





Step Up 2 The Streets [Blu-ray]


(Jon M. Chu, 2008)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Touchstone Pictures & Summit Entertainment

Blu-ray: Touchstone Home Entertainment



Region: A

Runtime: 98 min.

Chapters: 12

Size: 50 GB

Case: locking Blu-ray case

Release date: July 15, 2008



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1


Video codec: VC-1 MPEG4



English Dolby True HD (48 kHz/24-bit); English, French & Spanish 5.1 DD Surround



English SDH, French, Spanish



• Music Video:

• Music Video:

• Music Video:

• Music Video:

• Music Video:

• Featurette: Outlaws of Hip-Hop – Meet the

• Featurette: Through Fresh Eyes: The Making Of Step Up 2

• Actor Robert Hoffman's Video Prank

• Outtake: Cassie Performs

• Deleted Scenes



The Film: 6.5
It was interesting watching Step Up 2 The Streets back to back with College Road Trip. They have nothing in common to speak of except that neither of them is, in any sense, a great movie. College Road Trip is the least problematic: it is professionally executed for its intended audience, yet for all its weaknesses, Step Up 2 The Streets is by far the more interesting, more exciting experience.Hell, I don't even like hip-hop, and I'm certainly not of a fan of rap music videos – much too angry for my taste. Worse, I have the distinct impression that the anger is manufactured, though it must have been honest at one time. The accompanying misogynist power trips are another point of concern for me. The art direction and choreography are usually slick enough, but the narratives and editing are, just as often, routine. So I approached Step Up 2 The Streets with a certain degree of "do I really have to watch an entire movie of this stuff?" Like your basic pornographic movie, I anticipated a lame story line interrupting the "real" action. As it happens Step Up 2 isn't rap, it's hip-hop, and void of abusive language.Indeed, there is a certain amateurish quality to just about everything about this movie – the basic story line, the dialog, the stereotypical characters. All the same, I was struck by a naïve, first time around quality that only a naïve first time around cast and director could muster. In fact, there were very few pros in front of the camera. Most of the actors have had next to no previous experience in feature films, likewise its director, Jon Chu. The lead male, Robert Hoffman (as "legendary" dancer and womanizer Chase Collins), has been seen here and there on TV and in bit parts in films, but the principle lead actor, a very winning Briana Evigan (who plays Andie, a young woman in search of a "family"), has been pretty much invisible until now. Adam Sevani who, as "Moose," steals every scene he's in, is a first-timer. The generally stiff Will Kemp who plays the uncomfortably stiff Blake Collins, has had only modest screen roles. I've never been entirely convinced by Sonja Sohn, who many will recognize from The Wire. She reprises that effect here as Andie's informal guardian.



While Step Up 2 The Streets unabashedly borrows from Fame, Flashdance, Streets of Fire, Dirty Dancing, and even Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix, I felt it made them all its own. Strange as it may seem, I even became aware of how much this movie owed to the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals of the early 1940s. (Speaking of the eclectic, this aside: the title wants to both capitalize on the hip-hop world of deliberate misspellings and suggest its heritage as a sequel to the 2006 Step Up. Both Amazon and the IMDB get it wrong, however: there is no ":" after the "2".) Anne Fletcher, who provided the choreography for Step Up, produced Step Up 2. Baltimore's elite, though fictional, Maryland School of the Arts (MSA) figures in both films, but none of the actors or characters except Channing Tatum reappears. Tatum confidently reprises his role as Tyler Gage, appearing near the beginning of Step Up 2 as the catalyst to help Andie get on the right track.

Step Up 2 The Streets introduces us to Andie, a teenage member of the elusive "410" – a street gang that appears out of nowhere and breaks into freestyle dancing, upsetting commuters and police alike. Andie has two passions: dancing and family. Her mother died the previous year and she now lives with her mom's best friend, Sarah, who is at the end of her rope with Andie's misdirected and, as she sees them, nefarious activities. Andie is on the verge of being sent to Texas (a fate worse than death, as you can imagine) to live with her grandmother, when Tyler Gage appears like a fairy godmother, having arranged an audition for the Maryland School of the Arts. Not only is entrance to such an elite school likely to be beyond Andie's reach (despite Tyler's introduction), but acceptance will almost certainly put her at odds with the leadership of the 410, who see themselves as the "one, true neighborhood street gang" – well, the one that doesn't do drugs, carry weapons, or even use much in the way of foul language, anyway. And, my how they dance! The crew of the 410, along with other unaffiliated street folk gather at "The Street" – a hip-hop club moderated by DJ Sand (J-Boog) to show off their talents. Needless to say, Andie does manage to get admitted to MSA, much to the displeasure of the 410, especially once they find out the real reason why she hasn't been showing up to rehearsals. Meantime Andie is courted by Chase Collins, a legend in his own time for both his dancing skills and his way with women. His brother, in a full court press of sibling rivalry, is the principle dance instructor at MSA and has been embarrassed as a sort of bet into accepting Andie as a student. Once shunned by the 410, and for other reasons, Andie and Chase form their own crew from the misfits of the MSA.

As I said, the story line is not original. A clichéd fairy tale would be more like it. Even though race doesn't figure into anyone's explicit concerns, it can't help but be noticed that the 410 is largely black, and the MSA largely white. Certainly the two leads are white. But one doesn't come to Step Up 2 The Streets for the writing or its insights into race relations, but for the dancing, the choreography, the music, and the production design of the various numbers – all of which entertain and energize, some of which are rather cunning. What goes on here is not, as one of the 410 members points out, High School Musical.

Image: 7/8
There are few frames of razor sharp, high-density resolution in Step Up 2 The Streets. Still, I felt the music video-like photography and indie production values call for a certain grit to the image – and this Blu-ray delivers. The film image varies from high contrast, overexposed segments to elegant portraits in shallow depth of field, to elegant cityscapes of Baltimore and candid shots of neighborhood children playing and people going about their business. The contrast often goes to black quickly, with little shadow detail. I've not seen the movie in the theatre, but this struck me as proper for the material. The photography was always interesting and intriguing, even when the storyline was less so. Seeing as how this movie is almost straight to video after its theatrical release only five months earlier, it is as pristine as one could hope for.













Audio & Music: 7/7
Sure enough, the Uncompressed Dolby True HD mix rocks when the dance numbers take center stage. There is plenty of clean, unrestricted bass to work out the nether regions of your audio system. I could have used more ambient crowd noise for the surrounds during the numbers at The Street, though the opening number on the subway had its share of discrete locators.


Operations: 7
I couldn't help notice here and for College Road Trip (released at the same time) that Buena Vista has reduced the number of compulsory previews and adverts by more than half. So don't leave home to go clubbing while things are loading this time. Except for it being a bit sluggish in permitting return to the menu from any bonus feature, things are clearly laid out with directions for how to navigate.



Extras: 4
I hoped for music videos in high def. No such luck. Two of the numbers were letterboxed and in barely acceptable image, but two others were full frame 4;3 and looked terrific in SD, especially " Hypnotized". There is one image authoring error, however: The Outtake: Cassie Performs "Is It You?" is incorrectly framed. You might be able to tell in the capture that it does not have the correct aspect ratio no matter what you choose (16x9, 4:3, whatever). The capture is 4:3, 16x9 is unwatchable. By the way, the choice to not include this scene is interesting, as it would have been the only singing number in the film; on the other hand it would have rounded out the talents of students at MSA. The two featurettes: Outlaws of Hip-Hop – Meet the "410" and "Through Fresh Eyes: The Making Of Step Up 2" are worth watching for the sake of background into casting, choreography, and an introduction to its director.



Bottom line: 7
Despite its obvious liabilities, I rather enjoyed this movie – a second viewing some day will sort out how much of that was simply due to the fact that it was so much better than I anticipated. The dancing and choreography, the photography and image, even the music (yes, the music) and certainly the clarity of the audio all add up to getting exactly what you should expect form this Blu-ray.

Leonard Norwitz
July 4, 2008








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