Step Up

After doing a blog about the Divergent Series  I decided to do one about the Step Up series as was watching the third one at the time. There is currently 5 Films in the series.

Step Up

Starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan this is the original and probably the best film of the series. Tyler Gale (Channing) along with his friends break in and vandalise props at the Maryland School of Art and has to do 200 hours of community service at the school, whilst working he notices Nora Clark (Jenna) dancing and preparing an audition but her partner gets injured. When Tyler friends pay him a visit in the school grounds Tyler takes the mickey out of the students by dancing mixing street dancing and ballet up, Nora witness this. Tyler offers to help Nora prepare for the audition as has developed feelings for her, at first she refuses but after showing her he can help the routine she convinces the schools director to allow him to rehearse as part of his community service but as often the way things get in the way and Tyler splits from Nora leaving her again without a partner after her injured partner again quits leaving Nora to try and dance the audition solo, however at the last minute Tyler returns and manages to persuade Nora to give him a chance and the audition was a success.

Step Up 2 – The Streets

The second instalment saw new characters and role reversal as this time it was the boy who is at The Maryland School of Arts and the girl who is the rebellious dancer. Tyler Gale (Channing) makes a brief appearance as a friend to Andie West (Briana Evigan) and arranges her an audition with the Maryland School of Arts (MSA). Andie is a member a Street Dance Crew called the 410 and after they find out she is attending MSA and that’s why she’s being missing practice they kick her out of the crew. Andie and long with Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman) a dancer at MSA try to for a new crew at the MSA with some of the outsiders at the school and we meet Moose (Adam G Sevani) who appears in the later films too, Andie’s best friend Missy (Danielle Polanco) leaves the 410 crew and joins up with Andie’s new crew. The 410 crew after being the victims of the MSA Crew Audition prank for The Streets trash the MSA Dance Studio and assault Chase but Andie is expelled from MSA due to links with the 410 Crew and refusing to name others that are on the MSA Crew, the crew later get a Text message about the streets whilst they’re at a MSA fundraiser and ditch the fundraiser to attend the Streets and the Director also follows after Moose tells him that they’ve all gone. Andie’s guardian hears what Andie has done to protect her friends repents and tells Andie she needs to go to the Streets too, at the Streets MSA Crew are refused to dance but Andie stands up and leads them outside and says that The Streets are a place where everyone is allowed to dance and express themselves and then they start to perform their routine. The MSA Director watches and reinstates Andie back into MSA.

Step Up 3D

The third film was the first Step Up to be shot in 3D hence the title, it sees Adam Sevani return as Moose and also Alyson Stoner as Camille Gage (Tyler sister who briefly appeared in the first instalment) and follows them to New York where they’re about to start at New York University. Moose who decides to major in Electrical Engineering at University stumbles into a Dance Battle whilst watching a pair of Limited Edition Gunmetal pair of Nikes that were being worn by Luke (Rick Malambri), in the Dance Battle he beats a member of the House of Samurai dance crew, as the Dance battle is broken up by police and they start to chase Moose, Luke tells him to follow him and leads them to his warehouse which is a club he owes and the hangout for his Dance Crew the House of Pirates, whilst showing Moose around and trying to get him to join the house he notices Natalie (Sharni Vinson) dancing and leaves Moose to film her, he also gets her to join the House of Pirates though as the film goes on this was her aim. Moose having to split his time between the Dance Crew and University upsets Camille until he explains why he’s been neglating her and after Luke finds out about Natalie she tries to make amends as they battle out the World Jam. Natalie as part of making amends got Luke admitted to Film school in California and says she is leaving for California and hopes he joins her. Moose and Camille also finally hook up after being friends.

Step Up 4 – Revolution

The fourth film moves away from Maryland and The Gale’s though Moose and a few other of the House of Pirates appear again, and is set in Miami. A flashmob (MOB) stop traffic on Ocean Drive with their dancing and cars and creating a piece of art at the same time, the MOB are either loved or hated depending on the persons viewpoint, most of the MOB work at a Hotel where they sneak into the Beach Club claiming to be guests rather than employees. In the club Sean (Ryan Guzman) bumps into Emily (Kathryn McCormick) as she helps herself to a beer and Sean asks for one which she gives to him on the house as she’s helped herself to hers, they head down the beach and end up having a dance battle but Emily runs off after seeing one her Dad’s business partners. The following day Emily having breakfast with her Dad – Bill Anderson (Peter Gallagher) argue and Sean (now their waiter) recognising her and about to say something when Emily distracts him, she goes to the Hotel Dance Studio and Sean follows and watches her dance and Emily explains that she needs to get into the Winwood Dance Company or she’ll have to work for her father. Sean invites Emily to the MOB and they give her a test which she passes, the next Flash is at a meeting of her fathers regarding redeveloping the area where most of the MOB live, Eddy finds out who Emily really is and tells the rest of the MOB, Emily leaves the MOB and is forced to do the Winwood audition on her own as she had partnered with Sean. Sean manages to persuade the MOB to do one more Flash protest and gets Moose and the other House of Pirates dance crew to help and they perform at the ground breaking of the new development, Emily is persuaded to join in by Sean and they perform the audition dance and Bill changes his mind and says he will build up the community.

Step Up 5 – All In

After saving the community in Miami, Sean and the MOB crew are in Los Angeles trying to make it as dancers but without success and after losing another battle they decide to pack up and return to Miami but Sean stays and sees a dance competition called the Vortex taking place and calls Moose up, Moose gets Sean a job at Moose’s grandparents dance studio and lives in the Janitor Closet, Moose get Andie and a couple of others from the MSA crew to join and they make an audition video and as LMNTRIX are accepted into the competition. Despite some falling out the LMNTRIX and Moose leaving for a period they make there way to the final but find out that the competition is fixed as Alexxa (Izabella Miko) is in a relationship with Jasper the leader of Grim Knights the other finalist. Before the final Moose returns with Camilla and Andie also returns after Sean apologises for his behaviour to the crew. Before LMNTRIX dance Sean tells the crowd that Winner or losing doesn’t matter and to enjoy the show, at the end the producers call Alexxa and tell her that LMNTRIX have won.

There is a Web Series call High Water that’s being worked on but only found out about this when get information regarding this series. Channing and Jenna started a relationship whilst working on the original film and are now married with a daughter.

I really like this series of films and though not a dancer or normally a fan of dancing I found myself tapping away and getting into the movies, the soundtrack is really good and the casting and dancing is excellent. I don’t think you can go wrong watching these films though I expect the original reason for watching it for most wouldn’t have been for the films itself but for the likes of Channing and Jenna but hey why not have attractive stars to bring people in and end up watching the whole series of films.

 

Before I Fall

Another film I found on Netflix, not sure if this did come out in the Cinema’s especially in the UK, starring Zoey Deutch it’s based on the Novel of the same name by Lauren Oliver about a teenage girl Samantha (Zoey Deutch) who has to live her last day over and over until she eventually finds peace and manages to move on. It’s Cupid Day (12th February) and for Samantha it starts like most days but after school she and her friends go to a party, on there way home they crash but when Samantha wakes up it’s Cupid Day again and Samantha relives the day over again, again they go to a Party and again they crash (at a different point) and again she wakes up on Cupids Day and realises she’s in a time-loop she tries to avoid the party but again wakes up on Cupid Day and now starts feeling frustrated and down and starts to lash out at people but at the party after she has sex with Rob and breaks down in tears and lets Kent (an old friend) comfort her she starts to believe what she needs to do but it takes a couple more Cupid Days for Samantha to finally do this and ends up having to save Juliet and by doing so saves her and allows her to depart the world.

I felt this was a cross between Mean Girls and Groundhog day and think are similar films out there but this was actually pretty good and more up to date then previous films, Zoey played Samantha well and you honestly started to feel for her. I also started wondering what she has to do to get past the loop or to die peacefully and the twist about saving Juliet did take me by surprise as not something I considered unto the last couple of Cupid Days.

It’s a teenage film but that didn’t stop me enjoying it and was a nice film to watch and enjoy, as on Netflix and those who have it have already paid so why not watch it, it won’t be a wasted couple of hours and perfect for a rainy day.

DCI Ryan Books

At first I thought I review a book as want to start reading more again as I tend to go through spells of reading a lot then reading nothing for 6 months so looking at Amazon Prime Books I decided to give Holy Island by LJ Ross a go, not reading or knowing anything about LJ Ross it was a trip to the unknown but as I’ve now finished this book I’ve gone on to the second book in the series Sycamore Gap, there is 6 books in the series at present so this will be the first of 2 or 3 blogs about these books.

We first meet DCI Ryan whilst he’s on a three month Sabbatical from the Police after his sister is murdered by a Serial Killer he eventually captures and is staying on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, whilst he’s on the island a young girl is found murdered by an islander who races to Ryan to report it, this is the first of 3 murders on the island and the end of the sabbatical for DCI Ryan, whilst working the case a Doctor and expert on religion practices and former Islander Anna Taylor is assigned to him and a bond starts to form and after her sister is one of the victims a closer relationship form that continues. The book also tells the back story of Ryan and the death of his sister and reason for his Sabbatical and the Author Louise Ross really describes the island extremely well so you can picture the scene as well. Not only does Ross give the background to Ryan she also does for Dr Taylor and also starts with the other police force that are key to the story and to Ryan.

In Sycamore Gap we find Ryan looking into a case of a body that’s been hidden in Hadrian’s Wall for 10 years so you fell the author is making use of the wondering ancient monuments and landmarks in her stories and makes me want to read them quicker so I can see what other landmarks are used. I’ve often started reading an hour before going to bed but end up reading for 2 hours instead and reading through my lunch break without touching my lunch and not many books make me do this. You also learn about Ryan’s sister’s death and more of his past, I expect the other books in the series will continue to do this and I look forward to following Ryan.

It’s not often I get hooked on a character in a series of books but after the Nathan McBride series this is filling in the time before the next release as has me hooked as well, there maybe a lot of Crime Thrillers out there and several that are based around a character (Morse, Rebus (think that spelt right) to name a couple) but never got into these as never got sold the character which is important to me. So if you’re a fan of Crime Drama and liked Morse then you won’t go wrong reading these. I’m often to read more now. Enjoy them.

New Music

I thought whilst decorating this week I’ll listen to some of Apple Music’s new music and selected 4 tracks to review, Sabrina Carpenter’s Why, Niall Horan’s Slow Hands, Shania Twain’s Life’s About to get Good and Rita Ora’s Your Song. I will try and review tracks every so often but might not be every week, though when new albums come out that I like I will review these. Here are my thoughts.

Sabrina Carpenter – Why – 18 Year old Sabrina is the latest Disney star that’s hitting the headlines with her singing, following on from her debut Evolution album comes Why her latest single. I think this is a much more grown up single through there is still a Disney hint to the vocals and reminds me a lot of Hillary Duff, I look forward to her next album and how she develops over the next few years.

Shania Twain – Life’s About To Get Good – After a break Shania is back with a typical Shania Twain song and Shania fans will not be disappointed, a certain top 10 hit.

Niall Horan – Slow Hands – I first heard this at the One Love Manchester concert and thought he can sing as I never listened to One Direction, and now listen to this quite often, this is a sure hit not only because he was in One Direction but he has a good voice.

Rita Ora – Your Song – Rita’s songs seem to fall in to either really good or rubbish in my opinion and this is the former and one that could get to number 1.

Divergent – Series

I’ve started watching the Divergent Series but thought rather than do a Blog about each film I’ll do one as a Series, therefore this blog will take a few days to write. Starring Shailene Woodley as Beatrice “Tris” Prior, Theo James as Tobias “Four” Eaton, Ansel Elgort as Caleb Prior and Kate Winslet as Jeanine Matthews with Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer appearing in second and third film of the series, it is a series of 4 films that are based on the Divergent Trilogy of Novels by Veronica Roth, however at the time of writing only 3 films have been done and the fourth may be done as a TV film or series but without the main actors. That’s start with the first film.

Divergent 

In a world that there is now just a city; the people are divided into factions based on their virtues that is tested with an aptitude test when they’re 16, Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) is one 16 year old and during her test she is warned that she is a Divergent, meaning that she has equal attributes of all which is seen as a risk to the social order and the government, when the time comes for Tris to choose her faction out of Abnegation (Selfless), Amity (Peaceful), Candor (Honest), Dauntless (Brave) and Erudite (Intellectual) she chooses Dauntless despite her upbringing in Abnegation, in Dauntless she meets Four and during her training she manages to build up a friendship that helps her manage to avoid being booted out of Dauntless after she struggled at first due to her lack of physical strength and willingness to fight, she is attacked by other Dauntless members after she returns from visiting her brother and is rescued by four and he takes her in to protect her, he also helps with the final part of the Dauntless test which is a psychological test and whilst Four helps Tris with preparing for these he notices that she is a Divergent and he lets her into his fear simulation and after she passes she finds out he’s also a Divergent from his Tattoo on his back, the Dauntless faction are then injected with a serum that controls their minds (but not Tris or Four but they pretend it has) and makes them execute Abnegation’s as they’re being controlled by the Erudite. Tris and Four are then found out as Divergents, Four is taken into Custody whilst Tris is ordered to be executed however her Mother appears and saves her but during there attempt to flee her mother is killed. Tris finds her father and other Abnegations and they then sneak into the Dauntless Headquarters and force Peter to take them to the Erudite control centre where Tris’s father is killed in a shot out but Tris finds Four under a powerful mind control but manages to break him out of it by using his fears to snap him out of it and she wounds Jeanie (Kate Winslet) and Four injects her with a Serum to force her to call off the account, as reinforcements arrive Tris, Four and the others flee on a train.

Insurgent 

Following on from Divergent we pick up the remains of the Abnegation including Tris and Four hiding from the Erudite forces that are hunting them, meanwhile other Erudite forces find a 5 sided box from Tris’s parents house that is said to contain a message from the Founders that Jeanie says will show that’s right to enforce Martial Law but only a Divergent can open the box.

Tris and Four along with Peter (Miles Teller) and Caleb are hiding with the Amity faction but troops arrive to test for Divergents to open the box, whilst they’re testing Peter shouts that they’re up here and Caleb, Four and Tris flee jumping on a train but are then sprung on by factionless and Four reveals that his real name is Tobias Eaton and they stop attacking them and led to the Factionless leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts) who turns out to be Tobias mother who he still resents for leaving him with his abusive father, she asks Four to get Dauntless to join with them to take on Erudite, but Four declines and they leave but Caleb says he needs to go in a different direction and leaves them, Four and Tris go to Candor to meet up with the other Dauntless but are arrested as outlaws, Four persuades the leader of Candor to trial them here with the truth serum rather than take them to Jeanie, which he does and they pass the trial. Candor is then attacked and Tris is captured but Four and the other dauntless manage to arrive in time and kill Eric, they return back to the factionless but Jeanie using the mind controlling implants that many of them have get 3 factionless to trial to commit suicide if Tris doesn’t give herself up, Tris and Tori managing to save 2 but Marlene jumps to her death, Tris that evening sneaks out and turns herself in and promises to open the box if the suicides stop, Jeanie agrees but only after the box is opened. Finding out Four has been captured Tris fails the last task and with the help of Peter fakes her death and when they show her body to Four the serum wears off and they account the guards and break back in to the trial room against Fours wishes as Tris says she has to open the box. She manages to do so and hears the message that say Divergents are the Saviours and that they’re living in a walled city as part of an experiment. Jeanie however is about to execute them when the factionless army breaks in and rescues them capturing Jeanie at the same time. Evelyn visits Jeanie in her cell and kills her.

Allegiant

The third and currently last made film sees Tris and Four along with Tina, Caleb and Peter escape past the wall after Four frees Caleb from the cell where he is being held along with other Erudites, and when passed the wall are rescued by a military force and are then taken to the Bureau of Genetic Welfare and are explained that in an attempt to make a better society peoples gene were erased but the experiment failed and to repair the mistake isolated cities were establish around the world to find Divergents, Tris and Four are test but only Tris is a “Pure” Divergent and Four isn’t. Four gets assigned to the military force with Tina whilst Caleb and Peter are assigned to watch Chicago (the city they were in). Tris works with the leader David to help Chicago but it turns out David is not who Tris believes and escapes with Tina and Caleb back to Chicago where Four has also returned and been arrested by the forces. Peter who has betrayed the others and working with David releases a Serum that will wipe everyone’s memory but finds out that this will include him and lets Tris into the chamber but can’t turn it off but Caleb has found a point to stop it, even though David tries to stop her Tris manages to complete this. Caleb and Tina manage to rig the spacecraft they arrived in with explosives and send it back out past the wall where it explodes and tears a hole in the cloak wall revealing each world to each other.

The Future

Though a fourth film has been written called Ascendant it was decided after poor ratings for Allegiant that it would possibly be a straight to TV film rather than theatrical released which led to Shailene she would not return but no final decision had been made though the producers have confirmed that it will be a TV project and new characters would be released. This now to me would be the end of the film series and a start of a new project.

Verdict

The series of films could’ve ended after either the second or third film (where it currently has) as these whilst do allow it to continue end a chapter well as many films do. The series of films do seem similar to the Hunger Games and a couple of other films but do work well. Shailene is a very good as Tris and links up with Theo James and Ansel Elgort well, Shailene also starred opposite Ansel in The Fault in our Stars. Kate Winslet is probably the big name in the first two with Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer appearing in the second and third film after Kate leaves the series. I’ve not read the books so can’t comment how the films compare to them but I feel the third film with the outside factor being worthless whilst maybe bringing them in but not as a controlling force of the city and forcing Tris and Four back to Chicago, this is maybe why the third film didn’t do well as seem to struggle with the story-line. I would say first two films are watchable but the third not so much and the story could’ve finished after the second film.

 

Despicable Me 3

Gru and the Girls return with another adventure along with Gru’s wife Lucy but this time for the most part without the Minions as they revolt and have their own adventure. Steve Carell returns with the voice of Gru (and also Dru), Kristen Wiig as Lucy, Miranda Cosgrove as Margo, Dana Gaier as Edith, Nev Scharrel as Agnes with Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud as the Minions. Below contains spoilers.


Following on from Despicable Me 2 Gru is now an agent with the AVL along with Lucy and stop former child star Balthazar Bratt from stealing a diamond but fails to capture him and therefore is fired from the AVL, Gru tells the girls that he been fired and Agnes sells her beloved Fluffy and most of the Minions revolt as Gru refuses to return to Villainy led by Mel. Gru is then approached by someone who claims works for his twin brother Dru, at first Gru doesn’t believe him but after seeing photos they all fly to Freedonia to meet him. Dru lives in a large mansion and has a lot of cars/helicopters, whilst Dru and Gru bond, Lucy takes the girls to the town to explore and to bond, meanwhile the Minions have broken into a Talent Show and are arrested and sent to Jail while Bratt has stolen the Diamond again.

Having found out that Bratt has stolen the Diamond again Gru tricks Dru, who has been trying to get him to return to Villainy again, in helping him to steal the Diamond from Bratt so he can return to the AVL, they manage to steal the diamond back but afterwards Dru finds out the Gru wants to return it to the AVL and they have an agruement and Gru leaves the mansion but as they leave Gru finds Lucy has been locked in a cupboard and Bratt has kidnapped the girls, Dru having watching Bratt’s TV show when he was younger recognises what he is going to do and along with Gru and Lucy they rescue the girls and also stop Bratt, along the way they bump into the Minions who have escaped from Jail and the Minions help save Hollywood.

After returning Home with Dru and the Minions, Lucy is called Mum by the girls and they’ve been reinstated by the AVL however Dru has now embraced the family tradition of villainy along with the Minions and I’m sure more adventures are too follow.

I enjoyed this film, however I don’t think it was as good as the previous ones but maybe as not as much with the Minions in (though I didn’t think the stand alone film for them worked), there was also no Minion shorts before the film which I’ve only now just realised and am disappointed with. I’m sure there will be a fourth film with Dru appearing.

If you’ve read this and not watched I hope I’ve not runied it and you go and watch. If you’re a Minion fan I’m sure you will be going to see. It’s a good film and well worth watching but I’m only going to give it a 7/10 – it could also be my frame of mind watching it too.

 

The Circle

Based on a novel of the same name and starring Emma Watson, John Boyega and Tom Hanks this has the makings of a decent cinema hit but it seems that it completely flop in the US and went straight to Netflix in the UK and this is where I noticed it and thought perhaps it’s one that was made for Netflix.

Mae Holland (Emma Watson) works at a call centre when her friend Annie (Karen Gillan) calls her and says she’s got Mae an interview with the firm she works for – The Circle. Mae gets the job and starts working for The Circle – an powerful internet company that is developing new technology (think cross between Google and Facebook) as she progress in the company she starts to take to the new technology and then agrees to become transparent by wearing a new camera all the time this soon starts to effect her relationship with both her parents and Annie. During one showing of new technology Eamon (Tom Hanks) and Tom (Patton Oswalt), the directors of the Circle, get Mae to track Mercer, one of her friends that she has lost contact with, Mercer seeing all the cameras and people chasing him flees in his car but after swerving to avoid a droid he crashes off a bridge and is killed. Mae blaming herself takes a break from the Circle and finds out from Ty (John Boyega) that he has found all Eamon and Tom’s accounts and emails, she also finds that Annie has left the Circle and is back in Scotland having a break. Mae then returns to the Circle and speaks in the company wide meeting invites Eamon and Tom to join her in full transparency and says she is publishing all of Eamon and Tom emails including their private accounts for full transparency, Mae states she believes Transparency is good and no-one should hide their secrets.

I can see why the film didn’t live up to it’s does offer a lot but fails to deliver and there is a lot of gaps in the film, however it’s still a decent film to watch. Out of the “stars” only Emma really had a major role as Tom’s character though important to the film I thought stayed in the background too much. I think Emma’s character changed too much in a short period of time too really make this believable though I know films are many fiction and you need to do things like this but for Mae to do a complete 180 on her views just seems a bit much.

If you have Netflix watch it, it’s not a bad film but just could be so much better.