Step Up didn’t front, but Step Up 2 the Streets is a poseur. The first film’s dance sequences were seductive and the poor-meets-rich and black-meets-white skirmishes felt precarious, the result of filmmakers advancing an art of dance and sweet but not illegitimate social purview without studio interference. But when a film like Step Up becomes a cash cow and a studio (here, Disney) takes a more vested interest in the making of its sequel, the result feels tamed. This basically goes against the purported message of Step Up 2 the Streets, which concerns Andie (Briana Evigan) falling out with her underground crew, known as 410, after Tyler (Channing Tatum, literally stepping it up by implementing a trampoline into a dance-off) facilitates her admission into the MSA academy. From the dregs of the school, she and the banal Chase (Robert Hoffman, sporting an apt Voltron tee in one scene) form a new crew that wants to take their freestyle to the streets. (Their moves are serviceable, but mostly they’re good at producing and editing a witty you-got-punk’d video that plays up their outsider status while secretly foregrounding the oblivious gaze of 410’s leader.) Oddly, most the film’s battles take place indoors, and when they do move to the streets, they operate not in the interest of confronting Baltimore’s social wails but to get everyone ass-soaking wet in order to (a) distract from the fact that Andie’s posse is really not as good as 410 and (b) prove to doubters that these freestylers are not trying to hide their skillz, or lack thereof, beneath baggy clothes. Okay, so the dancing is sick, as is much of the soundtrack, but the plot moves quicker than the geeky Adam G. Sevani’s limbs, and between the old-hat freestyle-is-just-as-serious-as-ballet agenda, god-awful power montages, and requisite why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along homilies, you begin to side with Andie when she says she feels as if she’s landed in an episode of The Hills.
Shadow delineation is sub-par but the image is otherwise spotless. On the audio front, the lows are a little too low, but the highs are immaculate, especially during the thundering dance-off that closes the film.
Jon M. Chu equates the film's first day of shooting to the first day of school on a making-of featurette that finds charming room for discussion about the director's fascination with movie-making and body movement from an early age. Also in the extras department: a series of deleted scenes with director introduction, a creepy prank actor Robert Hoffman pulls on a convenience store clerk, a focus on the 410 crew's mad skillz, an outtake of Cassie performing "Is It You?," a bunch of music videos both horrendous (Brit & Alex's "Let It Go") and great (the "Ching-A-Ling" and "Shake Your Pom Pom" medley by Missy Elliot), and a bunch of previews.
No disrespect to Channing Tatum, who does one better than J.T. by bringing both sexy and baggy back, but pencil-thin dweeb Adam G. Sevani is the star of this nonstop dance-a-thon.