StreetDance 2 (3D)
Directors: Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Falk Hentschel, Tom Conti, George Sampson
Picking up on the resurgent boom in hip-hop dance troupes largely fuelled by TV talent shows, the British-made film StreetDance proved a surprise hit at the UK box office two years ago.
This glossy sequel aims for a more international flavour, with its sunny Parisian setting and pan-European cast. The young stars are mostly fresh faces, led by the French-Algerian beauty Boutella, a sometime backing dancer for Madonna. But the slender plot is essentially the same, a fast-moving parade of high-energy musical numbers climaxing in an epic battle between rival crews.
Looking unnervingly like a more muscular version of the Coldplay singer Chris Martin, the German-American star Hentschel plays Ash, the principle male dancer who assembles a crew from across Europe to do battle in the Paris showdown.
His big idea, to combine street dance with Latin salsa, leads him to the fiery Eva (Boutella) and some inevitable romantic friction. StreetDance 2 has all the flashy, colourful, zingy escapism of a super-slick shampoo commercial. Sadly, it is also full of wafer-thin characters and groaningly clichéd lines.
Beneath its shallow surface sheen of contemporary "urban" cool, the story also feels as anachronistically bland as a 1950s Hollywood teenage drama – which makes sense, given its target market, but it is a shame the filmmakers do not credit their young-adult viewers with a little more cheeky wit and grown-up intelligence.
And while there is clearly an audience for sanitised fairy tales such as this, does anybody really want to watch a film chiefly designed to please Simon Cowell?