I have two words: Street Cheerleading
After his brother's death, DJ (Columbus Short) moves from LA to Atlanta to live with his aunt and uncle, in hopes of pursuing his brother's dream of getting an education. Attending Truth University, DJ just can't seem to fit in. While still facing some serious guilt and regret from his brother's death, he also has to deal with his work-study program, classes, grades, stepping (a type synchronized group routine with African foot dance origins), fitting in with a new crowd, and even rush for one of the fraternities. Oh, and of course DJ meets the girl of his dreams, who is currently dating Grant, (Darrin Henson) an arrogant member of the rival fraternity. If DJ can overcome his tendency of taking the spotlight and focus on teamwork instead, his unique street dancing background could help his fraternity win the National Step Show Competition for the first time in years.
As you can probably see from my overview above, "Stomp the Yard" doesn't have much going for it as far as plot goes. It is a basic by-the-book struggle for the bad boy to learn his lesson and win the big competition, all while staying in school and wooing the pretty girl. The "twists" and "turns" are very predictable, though still amusing. Director Sylvain White does a fairly good job of creating some real emotion. As we are drawn into DJ's story, we begin to root for him and his underdog fraternity, and truly want him to win April's (Meagan Good) heart. The overall acting is decent at best, but the dancing is phenomenal. This is truly where we become caught up in "Stomp the Yard," and the unique style of dancing keeps you entertained.
The Dancing: Wow, I honestly felt like I was watching "Rize" again. The cinematography is completely captivating--each move is fantastically unbelievable. When you listen to the commentary you will learn that they didn't speed up the film at any time during the editing process; they actually slowed some pieces down. Everything you see on screen is done by the actors, who themselves have astonishing dance backgrounds. If you are into dance, and would love to see other styles than just stepping, "Stomp the Yard" is definitely worth a look.
If you can get past the cheesy plot and okay acting, "Stomp the Yard" truly excels at entertaining us with some incredible dance moves and sequences. There are more scenes of dancing than dialogue, which really helps keep this movie enjoyable. On some level, I have to say that I could consider this a mild guilty pleasure--I really enjoy watching this style of dance because I have no experience with it (other than "Rize" that is).
Here we are given a really nice transfer, with excellent colors. The reds really are apparent here as they continually pop out at us. The skin tones are very much spot on with very good use of detail in the face. There is however a loss of detail in the darker scenes when too much black begins to carry onto the picture. There are also times of soft focus, but nothing that will really hinder your viewing pleasure.
I talked about it a little earlier on in the review, but I thought that it is worth mentioning again...the cinematography. The cinematography here is outstanding--the camera work is truly stunning and we are completely immersed into the world of street dancing and stepping. Each dance move pops at you through the range of several different cameras and is edited together perfectly. This is by far the best part about "Stomp the Yard," and is the only reason to give it a serious look.
Here we get a 5.1 Uncompressed PCM track and a 5.1 Dolby Digital Track. The surrounds here are used perfectly in several scenes. The beginning scene is fantastic as we see a street dance competition going on--each swirling dance move progresses through the speakers tremendously well. Mix that with a pretty good soundtrack that is fairly loud and you would think that we were going to get a good track all around. But unfortunately that is not the case, the dialogue is very quiet compared to the rest of the track and is lost during several scenes. After the first scene, things seem to go down hill, with fewer surrounds used and only a couple of scenes that stand out.
Commentary: With Director Sylvain White, Editor David Checel, and Cinematographer Scott Kevan. This is a solid commentary track in which White does most of the talking with some nice back up from Checel and Kevan. We get some good details about locations, shooting, editing, performances, and just about the film itself and what different scenes are supposed to mean and how they flow together. A lot of time is spent talking about the editing and even into detail about piecing the music together with the dancing sequences and struggles that they had. Overall a good commentary track that will fill you in on some details that you might not have known.
Battles, Rivals, Brothers: This is a good feature with cast and crew chatting about details of casting, choreography, and shooting. There are quite of few nice behind the scenes footage pieces that are mixed in, and we get some entertaining interviews from the cast and crew chatting about their involvement.
Deleted/Extended Scenes: 3 in total that are definitely nothing special.
Gag Real: Meh
"Stomp the Yard" is by no means good. The acting is okay, the plot is not good, but the dancing is exceptional. We get a pretty video transfer and an okay soundtrack with a couple good extras. "Stomp the Yard" is maybe worth a Rent it.