A late Summer entry that captured the attention of the teenage audience well enough to become a $65m sleeper hit, "Step Up" often can seem more like a music video than a movie. The picture stars Channing Tatum as Tyler, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who meets and falls for Nora (Jenna Dewan), a ballet dancer. In other words, she's just a small town girl, living in a lonely world and he's just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit. Oh wait, that's Journey.
After damaging property at a local arts school, the court sentences him to community service there and that's where he first spots Nora. Although they don't see eye-to-eye at first (you know, because they're from the wrong side of the tracks - he's hip-hop, while she's ballet), but once Nora's dance partner gets injured, Tyler volunteers to step in.
This same formula has been covered as recently as "Save the Last Dance" and its sequel, but "Step Up" at least manages to offer some reasonably solid dance sequences (director Anne Fletcher is a well-known choreographer making her directorial debut here). However, the picture runs into problems in the middle, where it starts to drag due to the fact that the film really doesn't offer any surprises. The pace never drags too terribly, but cutting the fat and taking the movie down from about 103 minutes to around 90 may have been helpful.
As for the performances, Dewan and Tatum aren't noteworthy in any way, but they do have chemistry with one another (they apparently became a couple while filming) and, while I'm certainly no expert on dance, both at least seem like solid dancers here and the film doesn't seem to have to frequently cut away to cover up their footwork.
Overall, I wasn't completely negative on "Step Up", but the picture doesn't make an impression either, as the acting is just adequate and the script takes the exact steps you're expecting it to.
VIDEO: "Step Up" is presented by Buena Vista in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality isn't without some minor concerns, but the transfer generally looked fine. Sharpness and detail usually looked fine, although some scenes in both darker interiors and bright exteriors could seem fuzzier in comparison.
The presentation does show a few moments of edge enhancement and artifacting, although these concerns are infrequent and don't take away from the viewing experience much. No print flaws were seen, either. Colors looked bright and nicely saturated, with no smearing or other problems.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation has the surrounds ramp up quite well to deliver the bassy beasts of the tunes on the soundtrack. Otherwise, the audio remained spread across the front speakers. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and punchy, dynamic-sounding music.
EXTRAS: Director Anne Fletcher and hip-hop choreographer Jamal Sims are joined by stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan on the DVD's audio commentary. Additionally, we get a funny (if pretty short) gag reel, a short 4-1/2 minute promotional featurette ("Making the Moves") and music videos (from Ciara, Sean Paul featuring Keyshia Cole, Chris Brown and Samantha Jade). Finally, there is a section devoted to the dance contest that was hosted on the film's My Space website, with a featurette on the judges watching some of the submissions, a montage of contestant submissions and dance videos from the winners.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I wasn't completely negative on "Step Up", but the picture doesn't make much of an impression either, as the acting is just adequate and the script takes the exact steps you're expecting it to. The DVD presentation offers very good audio/video quality and a nice selection of bonus features. Recommended for fans, although those interested who haven't seen the film should rent first.
The Film C