Battlefield America: Review Roundup

The hip-hop dance movie Battlefield America opened June 1 to scathing reviews. The creative team is Chris B. Stokes (direction), Marques Houston (screenplay), Miko Dannels (cinematography), Sherril Schlesinger and Harvey White (editing), Tema L. Staig (production design), Keith Davidson (art direction), Marlena Campbell (costumes), and Michael J. Leslie (music). The cast includes Marques Houston, Mekia Cox, Lynn Whitfield, Tristen M. Carter, Chandler Kinney, Tracey Heggins, and Christopher Jones. Rated PG-13.

Ernest Hardy (Village Voice): C-list R&B singer Marques Houston jumps on the money train of the modern family film with Battlefield America. In the movie, which Houston co-wrote with its director, Chris Stokes (Houston’s manager), the singer plays arrogant businessman Sean Lewis, who’s sentenced to community service after a DUI lands him in front of a no-nonsense judge. … Although it’s grotesque to see pre-teens stomping in underground warehouse-battle settings, at least Battlefield America’s racial politics are interesting. … But don’t fear; that’s all subtextual. The film’s real lesson is more acceptable to the American palate: Believe in yourself, and you’ll win.

Joe Leydon (Variety): Yet another selfish and success-obsessed workaholic gets a shot at redemption by mentoring needy inner-city kids in Battlefield America, a pic so thoroughly generic as to suggest a contraption assembled from spare parts with the aid of a how-to manual. This latest dance-a-thon dramedy … is littered with energetic yet repetitious production numbers so frantically and confusingly edited that it’s difficult to tell whether the participants actually can dance. Worse, there are some similarly edited conversational sequences that raise the question of whether the actors really can act. Homevid beckons.

Frank Scheck (Hollywood Reporter): A more effective parody of the overworked genre than the Wayan brothers’ admittedly lamentable Dance Flick, Battlefield America manages to pack every cliché imaginable into its overstuffed and overlong 106 minutes. … The drama is strictly rote and so, unfortunately, are the copious hip-hop style dance sequences which mainly look like old Michael Jackson videos run amuck. … Audiences probably won’t spend much time worrying such things as whether Sean will eventually do the right thing. … They may, however, wonder why they simply didn’t save their money and wait for that next Step Up movie.

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