When executed properly, the current trend of the 3D dance movie can actually end up being more than a little entertaining. However, the latest entry into the canon, "Battle of the Year" is such a lifeless and uninspired film particularly because it is from the same source as one of the more seminal documentaries on hip-hop and the B-Boy culture.
"Battle of the Year" is the Olympics of break dancing, a tournament held every year that attracts all the best teams from around the world, but the Americans haven't won in fifteen years. Los Angeles Hip Hop mogul and former B-Boy Dante (Laz Alonso) wants to put the country that started it all back on top. He enlists his hard-luck friend Blake (Josh Holloway), who was a championship basketball coach, to coach his team. Armed with the theory that the right coach can make any team champions, they assemble a Dream Team of all the best b-boys across the country. With only three months until Battle of the Year, Blake has to use every tactic he knows to get twelve talented individuals to come together as a team if they're going to bring the trophy back to America.
Ultimately, this film is such a banal, bland and weak storytelling effort that it simply transplanted the most basic of sports movie set ups and stapled it to a dance movie. Inspired by the documentary "Planet B-Boy" that was also directed by Benson Lee, every single element of this narrative just feels entirely forced and ugly. No one would ever accuse a film about B-Boy culture to be high art, but this film couldn't even successfully execute entertaining as it's thread bare structure and dramatic set ups were even worse than bad, they are incredibly lazy and the entire film unfolded as such alongside some rather uninspired performances that weren't given any help like well defined characters or passable dialogue.
Poor Josh Holloway who had such a memorable turn on the hit TV show "Lost", slides into the role of the emotionally broken alcoholic coach shockingly well, but only because he can relate to despair and loss that he sees in his own career and a string of terrible roles. For his sake I hope the flask that he drank out of actually had alcohol in it, I know I needed it while watching the film. Josh Peck mumbled through the better part of his dialogue and Laz Alonzo was just rigid throughout. Cathy Lotz as choreographer Stacey had nothing to do, and R&B star Chris Brown as the cocky lead dancer "Rooster" was actually the best performance of the film, if only because he was probably just playing some degree of himself not that we actually cared about him in any way shape or form.
Granted this is a film that is mostly cast with dancers, but it all came off so uninspired and rigid that "Battle of the Year" actually lowers a quality bar for these films that wasn't super high in the first place. Movies like this can be fun, but no one involved in this one had their heart in it and it just fell flat.
1 out of 5 stars.
"Battle of the Year" is now playing in theatres across the country. Check with your local listings for show times.