The weekend of June 1-3 was one that was rather filled with movies practically no one had heard of until very close to the weekend. This is rather unusual for a summer movie release slate but I suppose part of it had to to do with not over-spending when you’re heading up against Snow White and the Huntsman. That’s where Battlefield: America comes in. All of a sudden, on Thursday I see it plastered all over the IMDb and I had no idea it even existed previously, nor that it was likely playing anywhere near me.
After viewing the trailer it seemed to me to fall into the so bad I had to see it category, however, what was so surprising and disappointing after having seen it is that it’s being bad was really easily avoidable but there were myriad sloppy, lazy mistakes, which mostly had to do with story more so than any production value, that could’ve made it passable.
Many of the issues fall into the logical follow-through category, example: Sean Lewis (Marques Houston) is established in a series of walking shots as a boss so feared that his employees has someone on the street radio that he’s coming up, yet later on everyone’s all chummy with him, giving him love advice, telling him to quit the community center, etc.
The inciting incident here is that he’s ticketed for DUI and has to do community service and mainly that entails coaching a dance battle team (a team that in the opening credits is pretty good then suddenly become the Bad News Bears of dance). Here’s the next failing on a few levels: the film knows we know how this story goes so it gets a little too cocky making Sean a huge jerk, and yet as bad as he is he softens and we’re supposed to buy that completely, and also that the Sarah (Mekia Cox) falls for him, not once but twice and that the kids come to like him, also not once but twice.
As if Sean’s predictable regression to his former self isn’t enough, the film also chooses to shoehorn in additional extraneous conflicts, namely: one of the boys mothers suddenly comes in late and takes issue with him dancing and spouts a lot of circular logic about why her child can’t dance that even she can’t sound completely convinced of in the end. There’s also the obligatory rival dance crew and their leader who is the only person in the film playing it like it’s a parody.
Then you have a couple of issues with the dancing itself, which in a movie essentially about dancing is quite troublesome. They are twofold: First, a lot of the times the handheld cinematography combined with the overly-anxious editing style make it hard to absorb and appreciate the dancing itself. Proof: I went with two other people and we all had different interpretations of how well or poorly the two main squads did in the final. The second issue is that not quite enough is done, either in dancing or cinematically, to fully convince me of who won.
It kind of goes without saying that the acting is inconsistent at best, however, that is far from the biggest issue that faces this. In fact, there are many instances where that’s about all that makes it watchable.
The cardinal sin this film commits really is over-complicating things. It’s a case where simpler would’ve been better. Where smaller would’ve been better two as the two rival dance teams face off in several rounds leading up to a national final, where they’re the two finalists, really? The film runs about one hour and forty-six minutes and I think many of the films sins would’ve been expiated in excising 16 minutes or so and another couple could’ve been dealt with in reshoots. As it stands the film is well-intentioned but messy beyond repair.