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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents
Stomp the Yard (2007)

"I already schooled you once tonight homeboy. How many lessons you wanna learn?"
- DJ (Columbus Short)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: June 27, 2007

Stars: Columbus Short, Meagan Good, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Brian J. White
Other Stars: Harry J. Lennix, Valarie Pettiford, Laz Alonso, Chris Brown, Jermaine Williams, Ne-Yo, Allan Louis, Oliver Ryan Best, Richmond Duain Martyn
Director: Sylvain White

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for a scene of violence, some sexual material and language
Run Time: 01h:54m:16s
Release Date: May 15, 2007
UPC: 043396160422
Genre: musical


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B- CB+B+ B

DVD Review

Opening with blaring music and the excited roar of the crowd, Stomp the Yard immediately thrusts you into the world of dance-offs at a popular Los Angeles club. While a group of mean-looking tough guys wows the crowd, D.J. (Columbus Short) and his brother Duron (Chris Brown) observe them and decide if it’s worth proving their superior skills. D.J. is highly confident, but his brash attitude leads to a tragic disaster. Moving to Atlanta to live with his Aunt Jackie (Valarie Pettiford) and Uncle Nate (Harry J. Lennix), D.J. tries to forget the past and enrolls at Truth University. The young man still has a huge chip on his shoulder, however, and it could lead to more trouble. Will D.J. be able to discover the “truth” and deal with his inner turmoil?

Thankfully, the grand tradition of African-American fraternities and the team-oriented benefits of stepping exist to help D.J. overcome his difficulties. This plot-heavy story includes love, fraternity conflicts, family history, and numerous dance sequences within nearly two hours of running time. While the excessive length gives us the chance to truly get to know D.J. and the other key figures, it also includes too many standard plot elements and predictable turns that lessen the overall impact. One of the main stories involves D.J.’s romantic interest in April (Meagan Good)—an attractive young girl who’s also the daughter of the dean. She currently dates fraternity step star Grant (Darrin Dewitt Henson), which complicates matters considerably. Short and Good create worthy characters and we want them to get together, but Henson's villain is so obvious that it lessens the excitement. Grant represents the typical affluent jock who doesn’t appreciate the great girl and shows arrogance at every turn. D.J.’s friendly, loose approach quickly draws April's attention, creating a serious conflict with the angry frat guys.

This description involves only a small portion of this overloaded story, which also presents an extremely positive depiction of African-American fraternities. I’m not denying they can play a very positive role in a young man’s life, but several scenes treat the institutions like hallowed sanctuaries. A key sequence involves D.J.’s visit to Heritage Hall, where he views pictures of major figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Michael Jordan and Rosa Parks while exploring the history of Truth’s Greek system. This event’s strong effect on him is completely understandable, but Director Sylvain White (I Always Know What You Did Last Summer) presents the subject with such reverence that any subtlety disappears. Even hazing is glossed over quickly and virtually ignored as a non-issue. I did not expect White and Writer Robert Adetuyi to explore this troubling issue; this is not that type of film. However, the lengthy speeches about “brotherhood for life” become a bit groan-inducing when presented from such a one-sided approach.

One area where the film excels is with the unique dance sequences involving complex moves and enjoyable face-offs. Chris Brown does impressive work in the opening scene, and Short delivers numerous worthy moments throughout the picture. The action culminates in the lengthy national championships, which grow a bit ridiculous near the end but contain some exciting material. Director of Photography Scott Kevan presents these sequences with a kinetic, music-video style that almost appears separate from the primary story. This approach helps to crank up the energy, but it also pulls us out of the other conflicts. They often feel like filler between the dance numbers, which creates an uneven tone. The non-dance scenes utilize a deliberate, emotional score that sometimes works but also is overplayed. I admire the intentions and Short keeps us engaged, but White’s directing style is a bit too blatant for my tastes.

I’m only mildly familiar with stepping due to the involvement of a college roommate in the mid-‘90s. The intricately choreographed dances have grown in popularity since that time, and Stomp the Yard will almost certainly cause more people to explore stepping. The film was a sleeper hit this past spring and does showcase talented young actors performing enjoyable dances. The downside is the subpar plot, which grows tedious and becomes especially mundane during the twists of its second hour. On its most basic level, D.J.’s story is inspiring, but it would have been even more effective if the obstacles had felt more grounded in reality instead of the standard movie conflicts.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.40:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Stomp the Yard contains many high-flying dance sequences, and the 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer presents these moments effectively. The best visual scenes involve the shots of the empty pool, which create a unique training environment. The presentation is a bit dark and grainy at times, but it fails to detract too much from the overall experience. The music-video style of the finale's step routines spring well from the screen and deliver the necessary energy.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: This release includes a condsiderable amount of music, particularly during the club scenes and dance routines, and the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer does a nice job presenting the audio. It's not a groundbreaking technical achievement that you'll be playing for friends, but the sounds are powerful enough to sell the story. The rear speakers also receive significant use and help to complement the primary audio. This disc also provides a solid 2.0-channel French transfer that should please any francophiles viewing this release.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu
Scene Access with 28 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
9 Other Trailer(s) featuring Crossover, Rocky Balboa, Surf's Up, Across the Universe, Little Man, Gridiron Gang, You Got Served, The Gospel, Are We Done Yet?
3 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Sylvain White, Editor David Checel, and Cinematographer Scott Kevan
Packaging: unknown keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Gag reel
Extras Review: Stomp the Yard includes several features that offer interesting background material about the production. The primary extra is a commentary from Director Sylvain White, Editor David Checel, and Cinematographer Scott Kevan. This engaging group discusses both the technical and creative aspects involved with creating the film. The details about the complex dance sequences are particularly interesting, and all three speakers maintain and enjoyable tone. There's also the 17-minute documentary Battles, Rivals, Brothers, which contains interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. White offers details on doing research on step competitions around the country, and the cast and crew members discuss the rigorous auditions process. They also discuss the strong bond among the teams, who were mostly separate throughout filming.

This release also provides three deleted/extended scenes and a gag reel, which add little worthy information. The extra footage last about six minutes and includes a longer version of the opening dance sequence, split into two segments. Both Chris Brown and the female dancers get a chance to shine during these moments. The other scene involves Columbus Short and his frat brothers making an impromptu song while cleaning up the yard. The gag reel falls just short of two minutes and has the standard clips of people laughing, falling down, and being silly during shooting.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

Stomp the Yard offers mild entertainment and a few interesting extras, but the overall effect is pretty underwhelming. If you're interested in step or just love dance movies, this release might be a good choice. However, the uneven tone and conventional plot twists lessen the drama and my enthusiasm.

 


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