Step Up (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
June 29, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Step Up” may not be an original or even a great dance film, but I still enjoyed the dance choreography and the bad boy meets rich girl storyline. Back when this film came out, I had low expectations. But after watching it, I realized that “Step Up” is one of the better dancing films out there. And since the release of this film, compared to the other “Step Up” films that have been released, “Step Up” still has the better storyline. If you are a fan of the film or love dancing films, “Step Up” is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray!
TITLE: Step Up
FILM RELEASE: 2006
DURATION: 103 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French and Spanish, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles:English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment
RATED: PG-13 (For Thematic Elements, Brief Violence and Innuendo)
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Directed by Anne Fletcher
Screenplay by Duane Adler, Melissa Rosenberg
Story by Duane Adler
Produced by Erik Feig, Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman, Patrick Wachsberger
Co-Producer: Meredith Milton
Executive Producer: David Garrett, Bob Hayward, John H. Starke
Associate Producer: Andrew Matosich, Mimi Tseng
Music by Aaron Zigman
Cinematography by Michael Seresin
Edited by Nancy Richardson
Casting by Joanna Colbert, Richard Mento
Production Design by Shepherd Frankel
Art Direction by Laura Ballinger
Set Decoration by Susan Kessel
Costume Design by Alix Hester
Channing Tatum as Tyler Gage
Jenna Dewan-Tatum as Nora Clark
Damaine Radcliff as Mac Carter
De’Shawn Washington as Skinny Carter
Mario as Miles Darby
Drew Sidora as Lucy Avila
Rachel Griffiths as Director Gordon
Josh Henderson as Brett Dolan
Tim Lacatena as Andrew
Alyson Stoner as Camille
Heavy D as Omar
Deirdre Lovejy as Nora’s Mom
Jane Beard as Lena Freeman
Richard Pelzman as Bill Freeman
Experience the dynamic dancing and awesome music of Step Up – now on Blu-ray for the first time with an all-new digital restoration and enhanced picture and sound. Channing Tatum (21 Jump Street) sizzles as Tyler Gage, a streetwise hunk with a reckless streak, in this exhilarating movie about never giving up on your dreams. When Tyler is sentenced to do community service at a school for the performing arts, he wants nothing to do with their world…until he meets a beautiful dancer who gives him a chance and helps him discover his astonishing pure talent.
Featuring the incredible music of Yung Joc, Sean Paul, Chris Brown, Kelis, Mario and Ciara, Step Up explodes on Blu-ray High Definition. Relive every electrifying moment today!
Anne Fletcher appeared as a dancer on films such as “The Flinstones”, “The Mask” and “Tank Girl” but she also developed the choreography for “Boogie Nights” and “A Life Less Ordinary”.
Although best known as a choreographer, in 2006, Fletcher received the opportunity to direct her first film. That film would be “Step Up” (2006), a $12 million dance/romance film starring unknown talent at the time, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.
Suffice to say, “Step Up” was an amazing success despite critics panning it. “Step Up” earned over $119 million in the box office and since the release of the movie, there are now a total of four “Step Up” films, Anne Fletcher has gone to direct films such as “27 Dresses” and “The Proposal”, Channing Tatum became a big movie star (“Public Enemies”, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, “21 Jump Street”, “The Vow”, “Magic Mike”) and Jenna Dewan (“The Playboy Club”, “Melrose Place”, “The Grudge 2″) would go on to marry her co-star and is now known as Jenna Dewan-Tatum.
The film would star R&B singer Mario (“Freedom Writers”), a a young Alyson Stoner (“Camp Rock” films, “Step Up 3D”, “Cheaper by the Dozen”, voice actress for “Phineas and Ferb”), Rachel Griffiths (“Blow”, “Brothers & Sisters”, “Six Feet Under”), Drew Sidora (“Wild Hogs”, “Never Die Alone”, “White Chicks”), Damaine Radcliff (“Glory Road”, who does the visual effects now for “Supah Ninjas”), De’Shawn Washington and the late Heavy D.
And now “Step Up” will be released on Blu-ray in July 2012 courtesy of Touchstone Home Entertainment.
“Step Up” is set in Baltimore and Tyler Gage (as portrayed by Channing Tatum) hangs out with his best friend Mac (as portrayed by Damaine Radcliff) and his younger brother Skinny Carter (as portrayed by De’Shawn Washington). Tyler lives with foster parents with a foster mother who is busy working, a father who is always watching TV and getting drunk and a foster brother and sister.
Tyler is a great street dancer but also has a hot temper that typically lands him in trouble. After getting into a fight at a party, the three end up breaking into the Maryland School of Arts and destroying many of the props on stage. A security guard manages to catch Tyler and in the process, is sentenced by a judge to 200 hours of community service at the school. Director Gordon (as portrayed by Rachel Griffiths) tells Tyler that his actions has denied a student from receiving a scholarship because of the damage he had created. And now, he will be working as an intern for the janitor.
Working as a janitor, Tyler often watches the dance class, especially looking at dancer Nora Clark (as portrayed by Jenna Dewan). The two catch each other’s eyes but she is in a relationship with another guy. Meanwhile, when Tyler’s friends go visit the school, Tyler shows off his street dancing and Nora sees him dancing from afar.
Nora Clark is a student preparing for her “senior showcase” and the showcase is her final shot of getting into a dance company. But unfortunately her partner suffers an injury and with no partner, Nora stresses out that she will lose everything that she has worked hard for. She tries to interview other male partners but none can lift her or can match her dancing.
Feeling dejected, Tyler offers to be her partner. Feelings that she has nothing else to lose, she goes to test him by seeing if he can lift her. And sure enough, he does.
Nora goes to Director Gordon asking for permission for Tyler to use his community service hours towards being her dance partner for rehearsals and the reluctant director agrees.
And as Nora and Tyler being to practice with each other, both start becoming even closer and for Tyler, being part of the Maryland School of Arts and the dance program, makes him feel that he would like to be part of it as well. But his friend Mac is now getting into stealing vehicles for a chop shop and wanting Tyler to be involved. Meanwhile, Mac’s younger brother Skinny is also wanting to be part of the action.
But as Tyler becomes more dedicated to dancing with Nora and helping her with her “Senior Showcase”, he must choose to pursue his dreams as a dancer or to live a life in crime which may lead to tragedy.
“Step Up” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). Having watched this film several times, especially for the dance choreography, I can easily say that the film looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray. From the cinematography of the talented Michael Seresin (“Harry Potter and the Prison of Azkaban”, “Midnight Express”, “The Life of David Gale”, “Sleeping Dogs”), Seresin is known for capturing action and despair. For this film, he manages to capture inner-street culture, beautiful scenery as both Tyler and Nora are above a building top overlooking the harbor but most importantly capturing dance choreography and making things look smooth.
The video quality for this 2006 film looks good especially during the dance scenes which utilize a lot of different lights and coloring. If anything, Seresin uses lighting effectively throughout the film. Skin tones look natural, I was expecting to possibly see banding during the more intensive red lighting but everything looked great. Black levels were nice and deep and I detected no banding, DNR or artifacting during my viewing of the entire film.
The clarity of the Blu-ray release over the original DVD release is quite noticeable and fans of the film should be happy with this Blu-ray release.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Step Up” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. First and foremost, “Step Up” is a film that is primarily dialogue and music-driven. While there are some scenes such as broken glass or even a gun shot, dialogue is crystal clear as with the music which utilizes bass, cool beats and also scenes with crowd ambiance (especially during the final sequence). The lossless soundtrack is quite appropriate for this film and fans who enjoyed the film before, will enjoy the clarity of the music on Blu-ray!
Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“Step Up” comes with the following special features:
- Deleted Scenes – A total of seven deleted scenes including an optional deleted scenes commentary track by director Anne Fletcher.
- Bloopers – (1:36) Outtakes from “Step Up”.
- Making the Movie – (4:39) Director Ann Fletcher talks about being a choreographer and working with a talented team including the choreographers who helped prepapre the talent for the film. Interviews with cast and Benny the choreographer.
- Music Videos – Featuring the following music videos “Step Up” by Samantha Jade, “(When You Gonna) Give It Up to Me” by Sean Paul feat. Keyshia Cole, “Say Goodbye” by Chris Brown and “Get Up” Ciara feat. Chamillionaire.
Having watched the “Step Up” films evolve since the original, I felt that the films have become more of an emphasis on choreography than story. Which is not a bad thing if you tend to watch dance films wanting to see more choreography, but “Step Up” is one of those films that you look back and say to yourself, “Channing Tatum was pretty awesome in that movie”.
Sure, we are so used to seeing Channing Tatum as action hero or romantic lead but “Step Up” was an earlier work that did show some potential for the actor. To tell you the truth, he seemed so natural as a dancer and you just don’t see that happening with a lot of movie stars, who typically train for the role and have a body double.
But not for this film.
This is where Anne Fletcher’s strength as a choreographer is effective. She knows how fake dance films can be when the actual talents are not being used and in this case, she made sure that the cast was well-selected and most importantly, she envisioned how the choreography would be and have her staff prepare for the talent for those scenes. Both Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan look natural, feel natural and it made the film work. I actually liked the blending of ballet and hip-hop choreography.
But with that being said about the choreography, what about the film and the acting?
Haven’t we been there before with the 2001 film “Save the Last Dance”. Ballerina hooks up with a tough guy from the wrong side of the city. Granted, Channing Tatum is not Black but there is a banality of films about rich girl, poor guy/bad boy hooking up.
Also, I’ve described Channing Tatum’s acting as stiff, not recently but more of his past films. But I will say unlike “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”, Tatum is more in his element it seems for “Step Up” and by no means is his dancing stiff. The guy can pop, dance and still shows a little bit of that when I was reviewing the Blu-ray of “21 Jump Street” earlier in the week.
The thing is, he has grown as an actor since this film but the character role of Tyler, a troubled teen from a troubled home, Tatum made it work!
Aside from banality, there are some issues of pacing and for more serious viewers, some may feel the subplot involving Miles Darby (as portrayed by Mario) and Lucy Avila (as portrayed by Drew Sidora) as unnecessary. In a way, it was because these characters were not fleshed out all that well. They are more diversions, where at least Miles contributes to the music, Lucy Avila is more of the friend who keeps egging her friend Nora to go for Tyler. But when it comes to their friendship, the storyline falls apart and feels forced as if the film needed to increase the time of duration. In fact, there is a storyline that involves Nora’s boyfriend/ex-boyfriend Brett Dolan (as portrayed by Josh Henderson) and it seems as if he could be an intriguing rival to Tyler but his character disappears by the second half of the film.
If anything, I wish more was explored into the life of Tyler Gage at home or even with his friends, otherwise this film really needed fine tuning with its supporting characters.
But despite a few of the problems that the film had, I did enjoy it. And it did make a tremendous amount of money and definitely set made things brighter for both Channing Tatum and director Anne Fletcher and many more “Step Up” films to come.
As for the Blu-ray release, for those who own the previous DVD, the special features are the same but the difference is better clarity on video and better sound quality thanks to the lossless soundtrack. And if you love the film, the upgrade is definitely worth it.
Overall, “Step Up” may not be an original or even a great dance film, but I still enjoyed the dance choreography and the bad boy meets rich girl storyline. Back when this film came out, I had low expectations. But after watching it, I realized that “Step Up” is one of the better dancing films out there. And since the release of this film, compared to the other “Step Up” films that have been released, “Step Up” still has the better storyline.
If you are a fan of the film or love dancing films, “Step Up” is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray!
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