Stomp The Yard - Blu-Ray Movie Review
|12/4/2007||19/9/2007||Sony Pictures||Sylvain White|
Before I get into this review I have to admit that I am probably not even close to the target demographic for this movie. I love action movies, I had never heard of 'stepping', and I don't generally enjoy music/dance based movies. It is also very heavily based in American culture and tradition, and this is probably evidenced with the movie making almost 82% of its $US75 million gross at the US Box Office. So not a good start, but a reviewers life is one of unexpected journeys and surprises. Sometimes we find gems where we don't expect them. Could this movie do that for me?
|Yes folks, it's a movie about dancing!|
DJ (Columbus Short), an amazing underground street dancer, hasn't been in college for a day before he's entranced by a lovely co-ed, April (Megan Good). Working as a gardener to pay the bills, DJ doesn't fir in with the wealthier students around campus, but one thing does catch his attention - the rival fraternity competitions known as 'stepping'. With April's help, DJ learns about the legacy and heritage behind the fraternities and decides to join up. Now part of an official step group, DJ must balance rehearsals, work and school, while at the same time winning the heart of the girl of his dreams. With the National Step Championship drawing closer, DJ must learn to stop dancing as an individual and to start stepping as a part of a team.
Put simply Stomp the Yard falls flat due to the sheer predictably of it all. I honestly don't know how the filmmakers could have made the few plot twists any more obvious if they tried. You know the story. Kid loses brother, kid moves home, kid goes to new school, kid meets bad guy, kid meets girl who is dating bad guy, kid joins opposite frat to bad guy, and the ending is a dance off. Guess what happens! Some of the dance/stepping routines are pretty impressive and for the most part the movie is artistically shot pretty well with some interesting locations from college campuses, to underground nightclubs. Certainly the choreography of the dance scenes is entertaining enough - but all this is ruined by the pedestrian plot and predictable twists.
|Another of the many dance numbers.|
Boring and predictable; this really is quite a shame for many of the actors who put in solid performances. In fact, there are a few people that need to be congratulated for their efforts. Columbus Short as DJ puts in a pretty respectable performance, and is someone you can associate with throughout the movie. The gorgeous Meagan Good as love interest April is someone that lights up the screen and, should she play her cards right, should certainly do much bigger, and better, things during her career.
While we can fault the movie we have a much harder time faulting the video presentation on this Blu-Ray disc. Sony Pictures have presented the movie in the original ratio of 2.35:1 and have encoded the feature movie using the AVC video codec. The bitrate is quite high too. At the 0:00:30 mark the bitrate topped out at a massive 50Mbps - we haven't seen that number in any other discs at all yet. For the most part though the video bitrates sits between a respectable 25 to 35Mbps. The print this transfer has come off is pristine as one would expect from such a recent movie - there are no blemishes to the film that we could see, and no compression artifacts either.
|Columbus Short and Megan Good.|
For a movie with so much dark and shadows, especially during the dance-offs, the level of detail, even in these area is impressive with even the smallest detail still present. I did feel though that the colours in the movie have been overly processed. Colours do, at times, look unnatural and too vivid. It's not a fault of the transfer, but I suspect of the original source material.
Audio in Stomp The Yard also manages to both impress and disappoint, depending on your sound equipment. Sadly unlike America the Australian disc does not contain the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround audio track. We do, however get the cracking PCM 5.1 audio track at 4.6Mbps and also a Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 640kbps. For a movie with so much music and crowd effects, especially during the opening street dancing scene I have to admit that I was quite disappointed with the audio - it seemed to lack any real punch and lacked the 'grittiness' one would expect from an underground club.
I must also applaud the inclusion of a English Audio Descriptive Service 5.1 at 640kbps, which is certain to be of assistance to people with visual impairments - if you've got the space why not included it I say. Also included is Czech, Hungarian and Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and from brief samples it seems on-par with the English track.
|I believe I can fly...|
The extras included on the Stomp the Yard disc are a little better then I was expecting actually. Certainly the highlight is an impressive audio commentary that provides quite a bit of detail on the production of the movie. Actually, I had more fun listening to this then the movie itself!
Audio Commentary with director Sylvain White, editor David Checel and cinematographer Scott Kevan:
This is actually quite an interesting commentary which goes into quite a bit of detail regarding the production of this movie. Not only do the three speakers look at what inspired the movie, including looking at sports movies for inspiration rather then dance movies, the technical challenges while filming the movie and some quite detailed technical info. Quite informative and certainly the most worthy extra on this disc.
Battle Rival, Brothers (17:33/HD):
An all-too-short documentary about the movie, how they found some of the best step teams in America, practicing the dance steps The documentary is presented with MPEG-2 encoding and 192kbps sound.
Deleted Scenes (6:06):
Three deleted scenes presented in Standard definition. The first two are longer dance battles from the opening of the movie, the third is a short clip showing the dancers cleaning up, and using brooms, bins and whatever else to make a musical piece.
Gag Reel (1:54):
|Practicing for the big finale.|
Bloopers from the filming of the movie, some funny stuff but too short to be of any real value. Presented in SD video with 192kbps audio.
Trailers for Casino Royale, Are We Done Yet?, Click and Ghost Rider. All are presented in 1.78:1 with MPEG-2 encoding and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio at 640kbps.
Stomp The Yard certainly isn't my cup of tea as a movie. But even if 'stepping' is your thing you really can't go beyond the fact that this movie is as predictable as they come from the outset. Fortunately the disc is technically quite superb and includes a couple of worthwhile extras. If you like Bring it On, Drumline or Save the Last Dance then you may get something from this movie, just don't expect too much. Expect the disc to hit shelves in September.
Review By: Dave Warner
Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Sony Pictures. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.