Stomp the Yard
R1 - America - Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Pat Pilon (28th May 2007).
The Film

The movie starts with a blisteringly energetic sequence setting the tone and stakes of the movie. The style - the editing, the camerawork - is usually reserved for gun fights. Like a shootout, the scene is intense and exciting. These guys are hardcore and two gangs face each other in a dance-off, to see who can throw down the best. It's a great sequence and starts the movie on a nice high note.

Because of the outcome of the first scene, DJ (Columbus Short) relocates from Los Angeles to Georgia and attends university, where he has to learn there's more to life than what he's been used to. Here, he must mature and question his own fašade to achieve something of himself. He sees that there are two rival stepping groups (dancing groups), both of which ask him to join. His decision is between Mu Gamma Xi, a popular, successful troop, or Theta Nu Theta, a smaller, decidedly underdog troop.

The movie takes on an underdog sports approach, though it's not obvious and the movie is more about DJ's maturing process. There are shots of training and dancing, for sure, but the core of the movie is DJ's story. The other part of the movie is a romance between DJ and a nice little shawtie he sees the first day at school, April (Meagan Good), which his not so good. DJ has his work cut out or him because the second in line at Mu Gamma Xi is April's (protective) boyfriend (played by Darrin Henson). This is treated rather simply, which is good because more screen time wouldn't have been the best. The dialogue and acting is a little bit stilted when DJ and April are exploring their relationship. It's necessary for the overall entertainment value of the movie, but avoiding the silly gimmick of the guy purposely being tutored to be with the girl would make for a more realistic story.

The movie, unfortunately hits some cliches. Some moments between DJ and April could easily be avoided if a) they were honest with each other and/or b) they were a bit smarter. A few moments between DJ and his fraternity are similarly pointless. However, these bits are quickly over with and the plot moves on. The one really annoying thing that I can't forgive, though, is that the past catches up to the present, and this leads to a really annoying arc in the movie. Everybody knows how things are going to finish (or at least how the last dance-off is going to be like), so why go through those 10 pointless minutes?

In any case, the movie is a very good piece. Columbus Short really can dance and it's amazing to see him move around. (Actually, DJ's brother played by Chris Brown, is even more impressive, and it's a shame he doesn't have more screen time.) There's a lot of energy in this movie and if the first scene starts the movie on a high note, the last sequence ends the movie on a high note. It's not the most original movie, and the plot has some elements that tread old ground, but the dancing and the dance sequences have a great intensity to them.

Video

1.33 full screen. For whatever reason, I was sent the full screen version for review, which is a real shame. From the first scene, the framing isn't right. The compositions lack information on both sides. It doesn't seem to be pan-and-scan, but the framing is definitely off. The original aspect ratio is 2.40:1 and I really don't understand why Sony would change the picture like that. The picture loses some marks for not being in its original aspect ratio. Other than that one big complaint, the picture is basically flawless. There's not one little hint of print damage. The colours are vibrant, accurate, considering the timing and filters used, and never flicker. The contrast is great and very natural, and the picture is very clear and crisp. The black level is very strong with the shadow detail being pretty good. The darker spaces don't really have any noise. There's no real edge enhancement, either. It's a very strong transfer and if it were the original aspect ratio, it would probably be perfect.

Audio

The movie comes in an English Dolby 5.1 track or a French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround dub, with helped out with English or French subtitles. This track is booming. In the quieter moments, there's not much going on, but the dialogue is still quite clear and audible. The little effects are also heard, and nothing blocks anything out. Just that would make the track adequate. The track, though, really comes alive during the dance sequences. The music is great and pumps out from all speakers. The performers rock your living room and shake your floor. The cheering crowds surround the dancers, putting you right in the middle of the action. It's a very vibrant and lively track and it really helps you get into the movie.

Extras

Sony has given this release a few nice extras. First up is an audio commentary by director Sylvain White, editor David Checel and director of photography Scott Kevan. This trio does a good job, but sometimes seems to be at a loss for words. They explain the scenes a lot, which is a note above narration, but can still be unnecessary. They do talk a lot about the dancing and how they shot and edited the different dance sequences. The photography is also touched upon on different scenes, like the golden hue outside the club near the start of the movie. Mr. White, for example, also talks about why he chose handheld, and talks about Columbus Short and the choreography. The track is interesting, but probably more so if you're a big fan of the movie. It's never boring but by the same token it's never completely fascinating. It is, however, a good listen.

Next is Battles. Rivals. Brothers. (17:32) a fairly standard making-of featurette. The performers, the dancing, the choreography, the actors and the style of shooting are discussed, in regular EPK fashion. What was most interesting for me was the amalgamation of all the styles of dancing that made up the movie. The training and mental preparation the performers/actors went through are also discussed. It was really interesting to see how the cast members mingled (or didn't mingle) on set during the shoot. There's nothing really revelatory here, but you do get some nice little bits of information.

Some Deleted/Extended Scenes are next. There are two extended scenes, 'Get Buck' (2:54) and 'Opening Battle' (1:53) and one cut scene, 'The Clean Up' (1:18). The extended scenes are more of the first battle and are definitely the best sequences of the movie. The cut scene is a Stomp-like sequence where the fraternity starts making music with barbeques and garbage bins. They're nice scenes but don't really add to the movie. A Gag Reel (1:54) rounds out the extras for the movie. It has some pretty funny moments and I'm glad to see that in the first battle sequence, the performers were still able to joke.

A bunch of pointless Previews are also here. 'Crossover' (2:28), 'Rocky Balboa' (2:27) and 'Surf's Up' (2:19) are start-up trailers, but can also be seen in the previews section along with 'Across the Universe' (2:33), 'Little Man' (2:28), 'Gridiron Gang' (2:32), 'You Got Served' (2:25), 'The Gospel' (1:48) and 'Are We Done Yet?' (2:31). The trailers are okay, but none of them will convince you of watching the movie if you're not interested in watching it.

Overall

The Film: B Video: C+ Audio: B+ Extras: B- Overall: B

 


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