Although director Christopher B. Stokes helped ignite the dance-film craze with You Got Served, the director sleepwalks through Battlefield America with one cliche after another in this uninspired underdog story about a group of inner-city dancers led by a selfish businessman who learns to care about his community. It’s also ironic that the character played by R&B singer Marques Houston is forced to perform community service, since it almost seems that Houston is doing the same simply by appearing in this low-budget rehash. Truth be told, dance films, while basically carbon copies of each other, can be quite energetic and fun. Pushing things in a kiddie direction is a natural progression, but since the movie doesn’t know if it wants to follow the teacher or the kids, its focus is muddled and the result has none of the pulse it should.
The teacher in question is Sean Lewis (Houston), an ambitious young businessman who tries to scheme his way out of doing community service by coaching a group of neighborhood kids in dance. It’s not as if Lewis is light on his feet, yet somehow the kids flourish under his tutelage. Admittedly, he has some help in the form of a substitute teacher he hires to take his place in a not-so-smart ruse that only proves to Sarah (Mekia Cox), the attractive community-ed supervisor, that this jerk is not dating material. Around this time, some heavy urban drama weaves its way into the picture, giving the unlikely teacher extra incentive (other than the possibility of some nookie) to help the youths make the big Battlefield America dance finals. As the genre dictates, there’s a rival squad, but both they and the crew Sean teaches hardly register as characters. Thin, dull, and drab to look at, Battlefield America doesn’t even wow with its dance sequences -- so really, what’s the point? leave a comment --Jeremy Wheeler