Over the past year, 3D has become a major part of the moviegoing experience, with more and more films being released in three dimensions. Yet, thus far, 3D has been very much the perogative of Hollywood with only films coming out of America being released with that extra dimension. Now, with the release of StreetDance this is about to change. The first British film to be shot in 3D (and I mean shot in 3D, not converted in post production as is the trend in Hollywood right now), StreetDance is in a perfect position to potentially change the nature of British filmmaking forever for its pioneering of the 3D technology in its first non-Hollywood use. 3D aside, however (as will be the case for anyone who only gets to see the 2D version of the film), there is little revolutionary or pioneering about this film, as it is essentially a British take on the popular American Step Up film series (which itself is getting a 3D instalment later this year I might add) and the concept of combining the modern dance style of street dancing with the classic dance form of ballet is also not exactly a new idea, again essentially taking its cue from the aforementioned American film series. But, regardless of whether StreetDance brings much new to the table, dance movies are always popular in the UK and with the addition of a third dimension, StreetDance may well have what it takes to be one of the most popular dance movies yet, even if it may not be one of the best.
Jay 20 is a London dance crew training for the UK Street Dance Championships. When their leading member and choreographer Jay (Ukweli Roach) leaves them to focus on other aspects of his life, he leaves the feisty Carly (Nichola Burley) in charge. Things soon go badly when she forgets to book rehearsal space and struggles to find the money necessary to find somewhere new. An interesting opportunity arises, however, when Helena (Charlotte Rampling), an instructor at the prestigious Royal Dance School offers to let Carly’s crew use her dance studio – if Carly includes Helena’s ballet dancers in the crew’s routine. Led by Tomas (Richard Winsor), the ballet squad are perplexed and resentful. For the street dance mob it’s like entering a strange new world. Tensions ride high for these two teams with seemingly no common ground but soon they realise that if they truly work together they can achieve greatness and that they may just have what it takes to win.
The trailer for StreetDance promises heart stopping, eye popping 3D and this is exactly what the film delivers. If you are seeing the 2D version of the film what you will get is something extremely average and that offers nothing that is special. The 3D version, though, is a completely different story. While the extra dimension certainly doesn’t make up for the film’s many shortcomings, it does provide something that is visually spectacular and truly worth the added cost of a 3D cinema ticket. You really can tell that the film was shot in 3D and, aside from a couple of gimmicky uses of the added dimension, it really does heighten the viewing experience. London locations are so vividly captured that it seems as though you could reach out and touch them and the dance performances genuinely seem like they are happening right in front of you, it feeling as if you are watching them live rather than just watching a film. All of this, of course, is absent in the 2D version of the film. The 2D version, does still boast the same impressive and sometimes ingenious – the combination of street dancing and ballet is brilliantly executed – dance choreography which, accompanied by a fantastic pop music soundtrack, is superbly translated into stunning dance moves by the film’s performers, who clearly have a talent for dance (this being particularly true of the much touted appearances by ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ contestants George Sampson, Diversity and Flawless, who are much more than glorified cameos here, being secondary characters that serve a purpose in the plot). The same cannot be said, however, of the performers’ acting ability. The acting here is not quite awful but a lack of passion and charisma on the past of the cast members means that they are definitely not good either. Even the likes of Charlotte Rampling isn’t very good here although this is perhaps more due to poor writing than lack of ability on her part. The storyline is mediocre, obvious and predictable, copying countless other – and better – dance movies that have preceded it, the characters are undeveloped and two dimensional – which doesn’t exactly help the performances – and the dialogue is weak and unmemorable. Consequently, while the dancing scenes are undoubtedly impressive, the scenes that fit around them tend to be rather dull. Style over substance is definitely the order of the day here. So, overall, StreetDance is a film that has some entertainment value but fails to nearly as fun as the American films it is so obviously influenced by. A bit more attention into the non dancing aspects of the film could have made it stand out but, as it is, it is a film that the Britannia High generation will probably love but that may leave other viewers without their breath being taken away.
Review by Robert Mann BA (Hons)
© BRWC 2010.
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