Directed by Max Giwa, Dania Pasquini. Starring George Sampson, Sofia Boutella, Tom Conti, Falk Hentschel, Stephanie Nguyen, Elisabetta Di Carlo, Delphine Nguyen, Samuel Revell, Ali Ramdani, Akai Osei-Mansfield, Kaito Masai. Written by Jane English.
The original StreetDance sticks out in memory as one of the worst 3D experiences I’ve had. Because our eyes need more time to adjust to 3D images than 2D ones, there’s two simple rules 3D films really ought to follow: steady camerawork, and longer shots. StreetDance, which was an unwatchable frenzy of quick cut editing, induced a real headache. There might have been some good dancing going on, but I didn’t catch it.
Even in 2D, I don’t get it: they hire all these talented dancers, and then edit their performances to the point that we can no longer follow the moves or appreciate the craft. It’s like creating an intricate Rube Goldberg device, and then trying to impress us by splicing together a variety of shots and angles; the effect is lost – we need to see it in a single take.
I don’t know what I expected from StreetDance 2, but I can dig these flicks if they’re done right; Step Up 3D was a treat, especially with that unbroken shot riffing on Astaire & Rogers’ I Won’t Dance. They knew what they were doing. Maybe the filmmakers here, directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini (who simply go by Max & Dania), learned from that film and their past mistakes on the first StreetDance, and tidied up the presentation.
Wrong! There are a few – a few – shots during the dance sequences here that last longer than a second, where we can actually, y’know, follow the dancing. Otherwise, this is more of the same: we catch glimpses of flying arms and legs and torsos but can never follow a dancer for more than a few cuts. From the precious few shots that we can discern, it appears that they have some good talent to display here. Alas, their performances were killed in the editing room.
It’s funny, because in the non-dance sequences, the directors seem to understand the concept of shooting and editing for 3D: these shots are typically long and calm, and make good use of screen composition. But when the characters start to dance, the film immediately switches gears into utter incoherency.
During the assaultive dance sequences, I found myself pining for them to be over, to get back to the slow, watchable stuff, which offends on entirely different levels. The story here involves aspiring street dancer Ash (Falk Hentschel, who could be Ben Affleck’s beefy kid brother) and new friend & manager Eddie (George Sampson) travelling across Europe to recruit the finest street dancin’ talent to get revenge on dance group Invincible at the big danceoff in Paris. (Watch for a brief Prague-set sequence during the opening credits).
A romantic angle is introduced when Ash decides to infuse the group’s style with a Latin rhythm, and recruits the beautiful Eva (Sofia Boutella). Tom Conti (a long, long way from Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and Rueben, Reuben), dons a French accent for his role as Eva’s uncle. Hey, Charlotte Rampling (!) was in the first film. Sampson, the young dancer who turned some heads with his appearances on Britain’s Got Talent, is the only returning member of the original’s cast; he has next-to-nothing to do here, despite top billing.
At least StreetDance 2 is mercifully short; under 80 minutes, minus credits. It’s also entirely insufficient. I skipped the press screening (assuming it would be dubbed, like the first film – which it isn’t), and at 224 CZK with the 3D surcharge, I cannot say I got my money’s worth. I will say this: the 3D, or at least my tolerance of it, improved as the film went on, and this was overall a significantly better experience than the original film. But that ain’t sayin’ much.
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