Stomp The Yard

I can say with most certainty, that two months ago, I definitely had no urge to watch Stomp The Yard in my life. Ever. I forgot it existed, and my life was fine with that. But then two things happened.

1) One of my students said it was their favorite movie. Out of 48, only 5 students picked a movie that I hadn’t seen before, and that was one of them. Grrr… Kind of have to watch it now.

2) I saw Battle of the Year, made a joke about this movie, and realized I should hurry up and watch it.

I am not expecting really anything, some sort of college dance movie. Let’s do it. I mean, shit, I liked Drumline.

Extreme Flips
Hey, at least we have people doing flips. Like a cheerleading movie!

DJ (Columbus Short) and his brother Duron (Chris Brown) used to be street battlers. They had a crew who would battle other crews in clubs for cash. They also used to be alive.

After the battle at the beginning, they go cocky and accept a double or nothing offer. They win, pissing off the local crew even more, who want revenge. In the fisticuffs, Duron is stabbed and killed (Yes, Chris Brown dies). Well, that kind of puts a damper on things, so DJ quits the crew, moves out of LA and into Atlanta to live with his Aunt and Uncle (Harry Lennix, Valarie Pettiford), who got him into Truth University.

He gets a roommate, Rich Brown (Ne-Yo), and a new group of friends, but he doesn’t care about anyone. He just misses his brother.

Anyways, long story short, Truth University has two fraternities who are on top and great at stepping, both making it to the nationals every year. Unfortunately, one of them has won seven years in a row, and the other always comes up short. Guess who DJ ends up choosing? Well, after he is convinced that stepping isn’t just some pussy dance stuff.

He picks the underdogs, lead by Sylvester (Brian White), mostly because the girl he wants, April (Meagan Good), is dating Grant (Darrin Dewitt Henson), second in command of the other frat, and a total douche.

Then dance movie stuff happens, predictable plot turns like his past coming back to haunt him. You know. Normal stuff. Jermaine Williams is also in this movie, with a face that looks like I have seen him everywhere, but basically just in Fat Albert.

Stomp Stepping?!

This movie is about step team dancing and colleges. Holy shit, why did no one tell me about this before?

I love watching step teams perform. Going to college in NC, I was actually able to see fraternities do this kind of stuff live. Probably not the high quality presented in this film, but it is still cool to see live. Honestly, only mainly black fraternities do this, so if you don’t live at a place with them, you won’t really know much about them. There are zero step teams in Iowa, for example. Just a guess.

As it is a dance movie, I must judge its dancing. Early on, when they were battling? That first part of the movie was horrible, a mess. The camera was all shaky, you couldn’t tell what was going on, just ugly. When they started stepping? Hell yeah. It got good then. But it could have been a lot better. The camera shouldn’t cut away as much, because part of it is watching the unison and everyone working together.

The plot was predictable, and some major drama moments just came up short. The overall story wasn’t too original. Pretty typical of a similar sports movie, about a kid getting off the streets. So there are no bonus points for the story. Only bonus points for the really fun dancing to watch and every once in awhile, a joke that actually made me laugh.

2 out of 4.

Battle of the Year 3D

There is a serious problem happening in America. Right now! All around us! Unfortunately, most of us have closed our eyes to this problem.

We are no longer the best country at breakdancing, or “b-boying” despite the fact that we invented it. Hip-hop is losing its appeal in America, and it is sad. Grr, I hate it when we don’t win everything!

Because of these true indisputable facts, the movie Battle of the Year 3D was created. Sure, their trailer had the wrong release date until a few weeks before coming out (listing January instead of September) and looked entirely like a parody, but the director hopes to bring light to this definitely real tournament through exciting dance sequences, flashing lights, and Chris Brown.

Basically, the exact same thing he did six years ago with his documentary Planet B-Boy. (Except that one didn’t feature the internet’s most hated man.)

Chris Brown
Step 1 to making a big movie? Cast this guy!

The movie starts off quite serious. A boardroom meeting lead by Dante Graham (Laz Alonso), a big hip-hop record executive who is worried about a decrease in sales. Why? Because no one in America cares about B-Boying anymore. Why? Because there is a big international tournament that we haven’t been able to win in 15 years (fact).

So he decides to bring in a coach this time to whip these young boys into shape. How about Jason Blake (Josh Holloway) who used to coach basketball successfully until he lost his family in an accident? Don’t worry, he isn’t some random scrub. He also used to B-Boy in the 80s with Dante.

Yeah. This will go well.

After hiring random office guy Franklyn (Josh Peck) as his assistant coach, he decides the only way to win is to get rid of the current team, and start from scratch. He wants to make a B-Boy Dream Team, the best dancers from the best crews across America. Then he will only have nine weeks to train them, make them a cohesive unit, and make very difficult cuts the entire time.

Of course during this time he has to go through almost every sports team problem in the history of sports movies. His two best dancers, Rooster (Chris Brown) and Do Knock (Jon ‘Do Knock’ Cruz) are at each others throat over a girl from years before. They have an openly gay dancer (Richard Maguire) and people who are pretty homophobic (Sawandi Wilson). They have players who sneak out at night consistently, last minute disqualifications, last minute injuries and a whole lot of ego that stands between them and the gold.

Let’s not forget the coach has a drinking problem! Crap, our hopes lie within a bunch of entitled young adults. At least they have a choreographer (Caity Lotz)? That will make a difference? Maybe?

How can sawyer teach theese keeds?
How do I reach these keeeeeds?

Battle of the Year 3D is an interesting movie, in that you know the director actually cares about the subject matter, given he made the documentary a few years back. He also uses a a real event and real details. Of course the idea of the dream team crew is completely fictional, so I almost think that it is his own personal idea for bringing the gold back home.

At the same time, I feel like he also is just trying to promote his own stuff. There are many scenes in this film of the characters watching his own documentary, which one refers to as “The Bible of our culture!” Whoa now, Benson Lee, calm yourself down.

I learned that Chris Brown is actually a great dancer. Sure, I knew he was in Stomp The Yard, but who actually watched that movie? The majority of the actors in this film are actual B-Boyers so you know the dancing you get will be quality. The problem with this film is that it tries too hard to be a generic sports film instead of a dance movie.

What do want and expect out of a dance movie? Lots of dancing, of course! Unfortunately, most of the film is spent in the training, so instead of great dancing, we just get working out and small dance moves. Most of the dancing doesn’t happen until the end, leaving us only with sport cliches, and that is unacceptable. Also, the actual format of the competition means that the coolest dancing we see happen well before the finale, in the preliminary round.

A dance movie without a lot of dancing? What a mistake.

The crowd at the Battle of the Year events must be pretty bored. I think there was five shots of them throughout the film just standing around doing the wave.

Wait. This is a hip-hop competition that takes place in France, with the audience constantly doing the wave? Damn, that country is literally living 20 years in the past.

1 out of 4.

Takers

When you see the cover for Takers, you probably go “Hey! I know some of these people! It must be good!” To be fair, some of the people are known for being in some decent, and some bad movies. We have Idris Elba, Hayden Christensen, and Matt Dillon, who at least classify as actors. Then Michael Ealy who would be a lot less know, along with Zoe Saldana who people are only starting to recognize.

But then you see Chris Brown and T.I. YES! If you love their music, you will love their acting! I guess that is the idea.

T.I. CHris Brown
I am probably just upset that 50 Cent didn’t get the call.

Lets see! It’s hard to really put a finger on what I didn’t like about this movie. Mostly because my finger isn’t big enough to hit everything at once.

Dillon and some other guy are investigating a very well done bank Robbery. Done by all the guys listed above, but not T.I. or Zoe. Why not T.I.?! (Boom, all 3 “endings in a row). Because he was in prison! From five years ago, he got caught while the rest got away. Thankfully he ain’t a snitch. But he does come back after that bank robbery, when everyone is happy, with a new mission right away. In five days.

Seems legit, if not rushed. Russians are involved, just an armored car thing. Some people don’t like it (so soon!) and what not. But it happens. And then. Betrayal. (WHO SAW THAT COMING?)

But yeah. A lot of movie happens before the heist, and then the heist actually takes some time. But after the heist, when backstabbing may occur, I think it is only in the last 20 minutes. I think a lot of the “pre-heist” stuff is just super slow, and not well done at all. The actual heist? It was kind of cool. I will give you that. Even with the fuckups. But I had so little interest in the rest of the story, it was crazy.

Takers
But not as crazy as the fear in his eyes there. Man up!

So uhh yeah. I would rather watch Armored again than this.

1 out of 4.