Saturday, September 21, 2013

Battle of the Year Review

September has been a real slow month like always with lots of football and few attractive new movies. This weekend Prisoners is dominating the box office and while I'll most likely get to that one later, the new September movie that I went to see this weekend was Battle of the Year. Now I'm not usually into dance competition movies, but this one I was actually somewhat excited for. No, I actually wasn't excited about it because of the dance, I was excited to see lead actor Josh Holloway, who plays Sawyer in the TV series Lost, in his first major role since Lost ended. I went in with low expectations due to the poor reviews, but I walked out surprisingly entertained by what I saw.

Battle of the Year is based on the actual b-boy world competition called Battle of the Year. This I actually didn't know until after the competition, I initially thought this was a fictional premise. After some quick research, b-boying has been around since the 70's and is commonly known by general audiences as breakdancing, although b-boying is the preferred name by those who actually do it. Just like in the movie, Battle of the Year takes place in France every year and is typically dominated by South Korea, France, Japan, Russia, and Germany, with the USA and Taiwan showing up competitively on occasion (USA actually came in second place to France back in 2011).

On to the movie itself, the fictional premise of the movie takes place three months before Battle of the Year. The US team hasn't won the competition in 15 years (which actually is true in real life -- US hasn't won the competition since 1998). The guy sponsoring the team is named Dante (Laz Alonzo) and he turns to former b-boy Jason Blake (Josh Holloway) to coach this year's team. Blake agrees to coaching despite his life being in shambles and when he does, he decides to completely scrap the team and assemble a dream team of b-boys that will compete for the title.

Yes, the b-boying performances were entertaining to watch, but what I was really impressed with as far as this movie goes is that it didn't rely solely on the competition aspect. Some dance movies or competition movies in general throw together a story and a cast that are both really weak and spend the majority of the movie entertaining the audience with the dance or competition. In Battle of the Year, the movie was actually really emotional and the focus of the movie was on the team assembled learning to work together as a team. We didn't even get to the main competition until well over an hour into the movie. The cast is what made this work. Specifically Josh Holloway. I loved him in Lost and I loved him in this. He did a great job acting as a fantastic coach who has been through a lot in his life and the progression of his character through the movie is done rather well. I didn't care for Laz Alonso's character, but the other supporting cast members, which included Josh Peck as the assistant coach and Caity Lotz as the team choreographer, did fine jobs. The other big name that the movie included was singer Chris Brown as one of the b-boys and I thought him and the other b-boys were great dancers that went through a lot of progression as a team.

Overall, this movie may not be the best movie you'll ever see, but in the year's quietest movie month, if you are itching for a new movie to go see, I'd recommend you give Battle of the Year a shot because despite the poor reviews you'll see by critics, it did pull off an A- cinemascore, so you might find yourself enjoying it. But catch it in 2D if you can. I actually saw it in 3D (which wasn't the plan intitially) and the 3D didn't add much. But overall, I would give the movie a solid 8 out of 10 score.

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