First, they brought it on. Then they brought it on, again. Next, it was all or nothing. Soon, they were in it to win it. Now, they're gonna fight to the finish!
In less than ten years, 'Bring it On' has morphed from a legit cheerleading film, to the catalyst for some of the worst video releases to hit stores since 'Ghost Dad.' While some actresses have found the series to be a springboard to career success, that doesn't change the fact that the series should have been finished after two tries: the original, and the spoof found in 'Not Another Teen Movie.'
This fifth time around, Lina (Christina Milian) is a cheer squad captain who moves from her east L.A. school to Malibu when her mother re-marries. In an effort to get her more involved with her new step-sister, Sky (Holland Roden), Lina's parents force her to join the inept Sea Lions cheer squad. Transforming these lovable losers won't be easy, as even the importation of her best cheer pals still can't get these girls to, ahem, 'Bring it On.' With the cocky Avery (Rachele Brooke Smith), the leader of the Jaguars cheer squad, on her back, Lina must embrace her new family, learn the true meaning of friendship, and, uhhh... 'Fight to the Finish.'
While I don't think it's fair to kick someone when they're down, thrashing this film doesn't count.
'Bring it On: Fight to the Finish' gets absolutely nothing right, and it's about as inspirational as a Jack Kevorkian hypnosis tape. Audiences aren't taught to overcome adversity to win; rather, they're told that if you can't win, give up and do something different. If the film had featured a Sea Lions vs Jaguars showdown it might have had some appeal, but that just isn't the case.
What's worse than the negative message being taught here is the way it's all handled. 'Bring it On: Fight to the Finish' is ridiculously offensive, with every character embodying an awful stereotype, and over the course of 102 minutes, it's safe to conclude that this film is flat out racist. I went to a high school that was predominantly Hispanic, yet in four years I never heard this co-mingling of English and Spanish. Not once did I hear a car horn play 'La Cucaracha.' Not one car had a custom paint job, or first name vanity plate, or hydraulics. The girls didn't have tramp stamps. White girls didn't call Hispanic girls "jalapeño," ever. I didn't know any girls whose rooms were decorated like Latin restaurants. Don't all those examples sound racist? That's right, because they are, and they're all in this film.
To be honest though, in real life, high school basketball stars didn't carry a ball around at all times as Evan (Cody Longo, as Lena's love interest and Avery's brother) does. Nor did cheerleading squads with no school affiliation cheer at school events, no matter how bad the school squad was. And despite any bias one might have about the intellect of cheerleaders, they would never be expected to say "cheergasm" or "cheermigrant," or any other word with cheer put in as a syllable. What a cheer-barassment.
The inherent and blatant racism and stereotyping issues aren't the only problems here. The chemistry between brother and sister with Evan and Avery is flat out creepy, to the point you'd expect them to be cast in the next 'Cruel Intentions' prequel. The entire point of the film -- winning a competition to see who is the greatest squad -- seems forgotten at times, until a rushed, borderline laughable climax involving a mock E! commentator discussing the team that has "captured the Nation's heart." The entire competition is reduced to an incoherent montage, due to the amount of time wasted lingering on less important issues.
Perhaps I'm not getting it. I never wanted a bracelet that designated me as a cheerleading "all star," nor did I ever move from the slums to a swanky high class mansion. I never danced to determine my self worth, nor did I ever try to turn a group of ragtag losers into a squadron of self confident winners. Or, perhaps, I'm not the problem here, maybe this sadsack excuse for a direct-to-video movie is.
No matter how badly this dog needed to be put down, rather than be released on Blu-ray, the video side of this abomination (featuring a 1080P VC-1 encode at 1.78:1) is at least respectable.
Colors jump off the screen regularly, though they feel a bit over exaggerated. Detail is sharp, with some nice edges (featuring gorgeous stray hair presence). The contrast level is a bit inconsistent, with numerous scenes being completely oversaturated, showing up scorching hot, then shifting back to a pleasant level, and back and forth constantly.
Establishing shots are pale and dull, with a sharp difference from the rest of the film, to the point that they looked recycled from a 1980's Los Angeles sitcom. Some movement in the film felt unnatural, with a bit of a motion blur, while backgrounds also got a very blurry treatment at times, showing off a very two dimensional feel. There were also moments with egregious color banding (mostly in sky shots), a few soft shots, and some very light aliasing in the gymnasium guard rails. There are no artifacts to be found, or any signs of real tinkering, but this transfer still feels a bit uneven.
Speaking of uneven, I'd like you all to meet the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that Universal provided for 'Bring it On: Fight to the Finish.' Feel free to point fingers and laugh at it.
Dialogue is front and center, literally, with very few lines ever coming from odd angles, and the Academy Award nominated script is also tragically drowned out at times by the soundtrack, bringing all the fantastic luster to a mumble at times. The soundtrack has an odd mix, with a very soft bass level that still manages to overwhelm the treble. The film seems stuck in the midrange at all times, with no real low or high presence to be accounted for. I caught an instance or two of spoken word popping (in the negative manner), with weird emphasis breaking up words. Crowded scenes just sound direct-to-video, with some random atmosphere, but nothing to convince anyone they're listening to a crowded school hallway or competition. Best of all, the entire film feels like it was ADR'ed, with lines not matching up to lip movements or emphasis.
Universal needs to wake up and 'Bring it On' when it comes to their release strategy for the Blu-ray format. So few catalog titles have hit the format that weren't HD DVD ports, while direct-to-video-to-dumpster fare like 'Bring it On: Fight to the Finish' hits the format, without coinciding with the original film that spawned so many films akin to cancer outbreaks. With good video, subpar audio, and abysmal extras, it's hard to give this release anything but an execution order. 'Bring it On: Fight to the Finish' will make you want to fight for this film series to finish for good.
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