I was crazy excited for this movie to finally make it to the big screen, especially since I had mentioned that the Europeans had already had theirs out for months. Well, that and the fact that Adam Shankman was hyping it up on So You Think You Can Dance. So I went to the AMC Mercado and had two minutes to spare before previews began.
Here’s the plot: Dance crew (House of Pirates) needs money to save their home, and the only way to do it is to win a battle where the prize money is 100 grand. That’s all. There’s a few minor things that happen throughout but really the whole story is bleh.
The movie opens documentary style with dancers being asked why they dance. This opening sequence was fantastic and featured some SYTYCD greats, like Twitch and Legacy. I found those first four minutes of the film to be the most satisfying “acting” bits in the entire movie. But then again, when I think of the past ones, of course the acting isn’t great in those either, so at least you won’t be disappointed there. The emotional arc is less of a hill but more like a speed bump that no one would really slow down for. The acting throughout, while decent (use the term loosely) put a complete halt on the energy of the movie. So let’s get down to the dancing. I don’t want to give you all the details because I hate it when people do that to me for a movie that I want to see.
What I was hoping for was brief dialogue in between these epic dance numbers. What I got was a lot of typical story with a few dances thrown in to break up the acting. The first dance segment, which takes place on the NYU campus, is between one dancer (Kid Darkness played by Daniel ‘Cloud’ Campos) who represents the “House of Samurai” and the other is a freshman at the college. The Samurai dancer was actually one of Madonna’s tour dancers and the co-star in one of Shakira’s videos where she’s flipping and dancing around on a bed. But back to the movie. The student (Adam G. Sevani), nicknamed Moose, tries to follow a pair of rare Nike high tops (yeah, that’s exactly what happened. Lame.) when he gets caught up in the middle of this battle. I was put off right away, because the cameras were trying to get so close to the action that they cut the “picture” of the dancer. What I mean by this is that instead of seeing the entire body of the dancer, you see the torso and head. I want to know what he was doing with his feet, too, to get the whole picture. This happens only when it’s one dancer being focused on and it really bothered me. This particular scene was most bothersome because the “Samurai” was literally twisting 3 or 4 times in the air, but you only saw mostly torso, so the full effect wasn’t as incredible as it could have been. There were one or two tricks done that I’d never seen before, but in that whole 3 minute sequence I wanted to be blown away. I appreciate the effort to try and get the viewer as close as possible, but I wanted to see everything so it just frustrated me.
There’s a club scene that had so much potential. The leader of the Pirates, Luke (Rick Malambri) has a crush on this mystery girl, Natalie, (Sharni Vinson) who shows up at his club, but always runs away after a minute or two of playing cat and mouse. Luke also wants to be a filmmaker and tries to film her dancing which is only the same body rolling and hair flicking that you get from the Brittany wannabe dancers. Unimpressive. Meanwhile, because Moose defeated the “Samurai” dancer at the school, some of the Samurai crew lead by Joshua from SYTYCD tried to battle him in the bathroom at the club. This last for 30 seconds before the “House of Pirates” come to Moose’s aid and a brawl erupts.
This competition (World Jam) that the Pirates enter into requires them to get past 2 rounds of other crews to make it to the finals. Isn’t that the same as You Got Served? Maybe it’s just my bad memory. I’ll have to watch that again. Anyway…where was I? Oh, yes…So with only three major battles implied, I felt let down. Although just before the last battle, after some drama, Moose and his BFF, Camile (played very, very well by Alyson Stoner) have this little number that travels down the block to a fun little jazzy tune that is very Musical Theatre in style and is a lot of fun to watch. I was actually smiling at this number for being adorable and not overly cheesy.
As far as the battles themselves go, the dancing is great! My gripe is that if you are part of a crew dancing together to present an image and an impact, for crying out loud, you have to be in sync. I know there’s the whole idea of dancer individuality which is cool and wonderful when you are dancing as such, but when you are choreographed in unison… Just sayin’. I think there were only two times that I said “Cool” or was impressed by the execution of movement, and only once when I saw a brand new trick. There wasn’t really anything new being brought to the table by way of choreography. I was really hoping for something that I could flip my lid over, but the movie never truly seems to go for it. Almost as if they had to hold back because of the fact that this was being filmed in 3D.
Oh, I just remembered something else that struck me as weird with regard to the filming. Whenever they show the main members of the Pirate crew, they never show Legacy. Yet, in the battles you see him all the time. He is even in the documentary film that Luke was working on.
Speaking of the 3D: I don’t think this movie warrants moviegoers to have to spend the additional 8 bucks to enjoy this flick. There was only really one scene that the 3D was well executed with. At the midway point of the movie, Luke and Natalie have a type of Marilyn Monroe moment on top of a very large fan/vent and play with their ICEEs/Slurpies. With this massive fan blowing everything up in the air, they drip strawfuls of the flavored ice into the air and the overhead camera is in the direct path of that slushy goodness. That was the only thing in the movie that made me feel like there was possibly something that was heading toward my face. Skip the 3D. You’re welcome.
So there you have it folks, a decent dance film that isn’t really breaking new ground for the world of dance but capitalizing on technology to try and bring you something different. The music is fantastic and during the dances it fits every step and movement. So for you dance lovers, see the movie, but spend that 8 bucks on the snacks.