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4.1 out of 5 stars
Center Stage: Turn it Up
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2008
Format: DVD
I enjoy dance movies and have the first "Center Stage" on dvd. I wasn't sure what to expect from the sequel but decided to check it out when it premiered in Oxygen channel. I found myself hooked within the first 10 minutes. Kenny Wormald and Rachele Brooke Smith are attractive and talented young actors who do a great job of carrying this movie. Both actors are clearly cast for their dancing and athletic abilities, as well as their good looks, and for novice actors, they do a creditable job.

The story centers around Kate Parker (Smith) and Tommy Anderson (Wormald). Kate dreams of attending the American Ballet School in NYC but unfortunately doesn't make the cut at audition. Tommy - a former hockey player turned ballet dancer - gets in. When Tommy spots Kate at the audition, sparks fly. Dejected Kate takes a job at a bar/dance club that is owned by Tommy's friend and Tommy falls for Kate. Tommy offers to help Kate improve her ballet skills, while Kate helps Tommy improve his "hip/hop-street dance" skills. They hit it off and fall in love. Conflicts arise when Tommy's wealthy classmate Suzanne (Sarah Jensen) gets in the way and Kate is torn between her fear of rejection (as she plans to re-audition for ABS) and her dreams of being a ballerina.

If you love dance movies like "Center Stage," "Step Up" and "Save the Last Dance," then this movie is for you. The dancing is more of a blend of the first "Center Stage" and "Step Up" with ballet moves mixed in with hip-hop/street dance. Both leads are very talented and live up to the demands of the complex dance routines. Smith started out as a gymnast and it shows. She is also charming and lights up the screen with her big smile and gorgeous eyes. Wormald was a back-up dancer for Justin Timberlake and was in the reality series "Dancelife." With his brown eyes and intense stare, he is definitely swoon-worthy.

Back from the first "Center Stage" are Peter Gallagher (in the same role) and Ethan Stieffel (Cooper Nelson - now an instructor), but don't expect Amanda Schull and Sasha Radensky from the first film. In all honesty, the new leads are interesting enough to hold the story so I spent little time regretting their absence. The music blends well with the storyline and the dancing is superb.

If you're going in expecting to see a good made-for-tv movie with great dancing, attractive and talented leads and an engaging storyline, then you won't be disappointed. Think of it as "Center Stage" meets "Step Up" with a bit of "Flashdance" sprinkled in and you're all set. For my part, I enjoyed it and certainly plan to purchase the dvd when it comes out. And if they ever do release the soundtrack, then I'll be in line to buy that, too.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 28, 2009
Format: DVD
My favorite guilty pleasure movie obsession is dance films. I will watch pretty much any lousy movie featuring dancing in its main plot, no matter what kind of dancing it is. These movies all tend to be unimaginative and formulaic, but sometimes they manage to surprise you with decent acting performances and AMAZING dance performances. One of these surprisingly good flicks is the original "Center Stage" -- so when I heard that there was a direct to DVD sequel, I knew I had to rent it.

The plot of this movie is very different from the first one, which is a breath of fresh air. As fans of the first flick know, Jodi Sawyer made it into the American Ballet Academy by the skin of her teeth, then ultimately proved that by mixing passion and modern dance steps in with ballet, she had what it took to be a star in arrogant "ballerino" Cooper Nielson's new company. This time around, Cooper can't save the star, because his company has run out of funding, putting him right back at ABA as an instructor. And the girl we follow this time is, like Jodi was, a dancer who lacks technical skill but has lots of passion. This time, however, she doesn't make it. Perhaps that's because she auditions directly for (even more arrogant) company director Jonathan Reeves, instead of his representatives. That's a great scene, because it allows us to see the cold, stark reality of hiring dancers, and keeping a company alive.

This movie is filled with good dance scenes and decent acting, as it melds "street" dancing with ballet, and shows us Kate's journey after her devastating rejection. The director wanted to make the film seem less formal than the first one, so he uses a lot of hand-held camera moves that make the frames off-center, or shows us the dancers in reflection as they perform. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer that the camera be left alone during dance movies, so that I can follow the performance in full.

Speaking of performances -- that is where this movie really falls short compared to the last one. Despite the fact that its only major improvement over the last one is that they hired a full cast of dancers (meaning that unlike the first movie, there's never a need to cut away from an actor who clearly cannot do his or her own dancing) this movie has no GREAT dance performances. Just good ones. The finale is especially disappointing compared to finale of the original. That was a ten-minute, all out, full-on dance spectacular, with great pop music, great costumes, a great story -- and even greater dance moves. This one is just . . . okay. Nothing special. It seems like such a sad waste of such an obviously talented cast. Perhaps part of the reason is that, according to one of the extras, they only had four days to learn ALL the choreography for the entire movie. That elevates the dancing in this sequel from good to impressive, but it's still disappointing that they couldn't get enough rehearsal time to really live up to the original.

The extras consist of two making-of featurettes, and an ungodly amount of trailers. Seriously, I have *NEVER* seen so many trailers included in one movie before. It's absurd. Overall, this DVD is worth a rental, and is a must-see for fans of the original, if only because you get to watch Cooper Nielson dance hip-hop! But I wouldn't recommend that anyone purchase it, because it just isn't the kind of movie you can watch over and over again, noticing new things about the dance performances every time. Instead, go ahead and pop in the first one. THAT one never gets old.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2008
Format: DVD
I was a huge fan of Kenny's when I watched the TV show on MTV "Dancelife". He is an excellent dancer and when I saw him on TV in a movie I had to stop and see what it was about. When I realized it was a sequel to the movie "Center Stage" I was excited, but not hopeful for a good movie, because I had seen his talent and had loved the previous movie. However, I was completely surprised by the quality of the pot and the great choreography and the dancers. I loved this movie for the excellent dancing, not to mention the acting was better then that of the first movie. I felt that Tommy's character was intriguing and talented, also believable in his struggle. I also liked the idea of a ballerina without rich parents, Kate, is inspiring and although you want to slap her into giving more of herself to her dream, she is totally relatable. Everyone has had self doubt and in that you relate to Kate in her goals and dreams. This movie is worth a watch if you enjoy movies about dance, there are some great ballet scenes as well as excellent hip hop routines. I am going to buy this movie as soon as it is available. Two Thumbs Up.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2009
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Unlike most sequels, this was just as good as the first. All the stories are simiilar - boy meets girl from different backgrounds. There are a couple of cast memberes from Center Stage with lots of new talented members. If you like dance as the background, you will enjoy this dvd.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This move is great! I loved the chemistry between the two dancers. The girl they picked brings a great energy and is always smiling. Kenny lights up the screen and I love the way he talks! Great movie for dancing and music. You will like it so give it a chance and check it out!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Although I enjoyed the film's storyline(or re-hashed story line?)I found
some of the casting decision a bit, no, very insulting. Rachele Brooke
Smith may be a good actress on the rise(I hope)but has zero ballet body
requisites: her feet barely arch while on toe shoes, her knees don't straightem and lacks a decent natural line doing arabesques. The blond
actress playing her rival (good performance!)doesn't have the long legged
perfect body for ballet that we see on stages today(even in the chorus, or
corp de ballet members)My question is: Could they not find perfect or close to perfect real ballet dancers(or even advanced students)to play
those parts?. Don't they realize that a lot of the viewers of the film may
have some basic ballet knowledge?. As for the hip hop dance sequences I've
seen better in the local tv channels amateur competitions. Is that why
the scenes in the club were so poorly lighted?.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I bought this movie because I loved Center Stage. I've watched the first one so many times, I was excited to see there was a sequel. However, they missed the boat with this movie. Very boring - weak storyline and no heat. Even the music is uninspiring. Don't bother with this one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I loved this movie! I know part of it (her ballet training) may not be completely realistic but the movie is so good. It's different in a good way from the first Center Stage.
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on June 23, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I was hoping to like this much more. My attention span is small, but I love music and dance, so I was hoping this would motivate me to want to get moving. It didn't.
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on May 6, 2014
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
a bit expensive, but nephew wanted this for a gift and this was the cheapest I found, good movie, thanks
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