The first Streetdance was a homegrown hit, featuring assorted
graduates of Britain's Got Talent and also, improbably, quite a bit
of talent. While it stuck relatively close to the formula of the
Step Up films and their ilk, there was a
recognisably British feel to the whole endeavour - albeit partly in
the intense class conflict at its heart. This sequel attempts to
widen the focus to the whole of Europe, but between an American
lead, a multi-ethnic but entirely undefined crew and a confused
sense of geography, it ends up feeling like a bland imitation of
its Yankee cousins.
The story is played-to-death dull: muscly guy Ash (Falk Hentschel) assembles a mismatched dance crew in a title sequence montage that takes in the Continent's most identifiable landmarks. Then, searching for the edge to beat his rivals, Ash falls for a girl (Sofia Boutella) who dances Cuban salsa. She lives in Paris and she's French, we guess. At least, her uncle (Tom Conti) claims to be French, so we're extrapolating. Cue dance culture clashes, a growing sense of mutual respect (and love!) and a race to the "Final Clash", a contest that we're told will take place in Paris, but which actually occurs in a Roman arena nowhere near the Île-de-France (Nîmes, perhaps).
So far, so typical of the genre. But the execution here falls particularly flat: the 3D either grotesquely distorts the dancers for effect or uses an unnecessary blurred background behind crystal-clear figures, while the frenetic editing means that we barely glimpse two steps at a time of the impressive-looking salsa/street routines. Boutella's okay - and smokin' hot - but Hentschel, who looks like a beefier Will Young, lacks presence, and Tom Conti's supposed Frenchman is surely messing with us by translating a comforting "there, there" into a less-than-grammatical "voilà, voilà". The dance crew, meanwhile, barely get a line each and remain entirely indistinct, and no-one bothers explaining how they support themselves or can afford to stay in their grotty hostel with its fluffy feather pillows (cue a 3D pillow fight/dance!).
There's nothing to make this feel European rather than generically American bar the scenery. Perhaps this is a grab at the US market, but it would have done better to stick with some authentic local flavour to set itself apart.
Shoddy 3D and flashy editing distract from the admittedly great dancing, but little else offers a particular reason to watch it.