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Film Review – Street Dance 2

With the recent rise in the popularity of dance – and especially street dance – continuing into 2012, the release of a sequel to Street Dance 3D (2010) was perhaps inevitable. We’re bound to see plenty of crews, groups and troupes try their luck in this year’s imminent Britain’s Got Talent and no doubt Street Dance 2 will capture the mood of the country and draw plenty of interest, especially with the appearance of Britain’s Got Talent and Street Dance 3D stars Flawless and George Sampson.

The premise of the film is simple: lots of intense, impressive dancing. It doesn’t really consist of much more than that; and nor does it need to, as the effects, soundtrack, set and skill of the cast deliver all that the film sets out to achieve.

The story follows street dancer, Ash (Falk Hentschel), as he embarks on a journey of self-discovery and learning, sparked by a humiliation in front of rival dance crew Invincible that sends him on a quest for revenge and dancing glory. Ash, inspired by manager Eddie (a character continued from Street Dance 3D played by George Sampson), travels across Europe in search of the hottest street dancers around, persuading them to come together and form the best crew in the world; except we don’t see much persuading, just lots of jaw-dropping moves to prove how good they are.

The newly formed crew moves together to Paris, where the finals of the ultimate global dance-off competition are taking place in just 6 weeks time. Paris is also the home of the crew’s secret weapon Eva (Sofia Boutella), a tango dancer whose heated dancing is bound to give their routine the spark it needs to see off Invincible forever.

The crew and Eva together must overcome their differences – both personal and dance-based – to see off the competition and prove their worth in front of the dancing world. The talent of the cast is undeniable, but will they be ready in time?

Crew leader Ash is the closest we get to a believable character in the film, as he is forced to conquer his demons and dance in a pair for the first time in his life. Ash enjoys showing off and takes pride in his solo street dance skills. To be forced to dance the tango, steeped in tradition, passion and connection with your partner, is not something he finds easy. He is helped though by Eva’s determination and training, taking no doubt some motivation from being able to get up close and personal with such an attractive girl. Ash is likeable and engaging enough though, and his character does at least provide some focus for the film, which would otherwise lose all sense of continuity.

The strength of the film lies unsurprisingly in its dancing, of which there is an unending array of moves, and street dance fans will surely be satisfied by the incredible skill of all those who get their chance to shine. From the point of view of someone without any specialist dance knowledge, the moves do tend to become a little repetitive, but as this is the second in the Street Dance franchise with various Step Up films to contend with too it’s perhaps understandable if the choreographers became a little short of ideas.

It wouldn’t be fair to examine the storyline or themes of the film in minute detail, as it makes no pretences of being a production based closely on real life. There are moments of cringe worthy crass however that no one could ignore as the film attempts to paint a picture of Paris and French living. Berets, stripy tops, braces, garlic, baguettes and red wine all make several appearances, overridden by the slightly confusing motif of Eva as the traditional passionate, Latin ‘Milonguero’. It’s slightly insulting to both these cultures that they’ve been so clumsily shoved together – it would surely have made more sense the base the film in Spain or Latin America – but this is perhaps reading too much into a production that has as its main goal to show lots of awesome street dancing, and it does just that.

If you go at it at face value Street Dance 2 is undeniably fun and upbeat, and you can’t help rooting for the crew by the end. The 3D adds an extra element too that keeps you on your toes as hats, clothes and even people fly out towards you. There is also some humour from Eva’s uncle Manu (Tom Conti) that viewers less impressed by the dancing can take heart from. Most definitely worth a watch if you enjoyed the first film, but perhaps one to steer clear of for those who have a dislike of whimsical, completely distorted portrayals of life on the continent.

[Rating: 2]

Street Dance 2 is out to watch in UK Cinemas Friday 30th March 

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