Plot: What’s it about?
Hmmm…to create a synopsis, I need a real storyline and in this case, I am given very little to work with. I could summarize the plot with two words (rap music), but I will attempt to extend the summary and make this seem deeper than it really is. A young rapper named Denzel (Pras) wants to be a serious rap icon, but he would like to do it on the real, though. He wants to skip the underhanded side of the business, but with so much stress and pressure in his life, that won’t be as easy to do as he thinks. As he tries to push ahead as a rapper, he has to deal with less than honest record producers, his newly pregnant girlfriend (Tamala Jones), his father who has returned after many years, and his best friend, Gage (Ja Rule). Although he is tight with Gage, he knows his rock slinging habits only serve to hinder them both. Can Denzel manage to remain clean in this dirty business, or will he become another victim of the system? True.
Do you like rap videos, but wish they were as long as feature length films? If so, then you’re in luck, as New Line has released Turn It Up on our beloved format. So now, instead of seeing rappers with minimal talent for three and a half minutes, now you can see them for an hour and half, oh man. I’ve seen so many of these rapper laden flicks you wouldn’t believe it, but once again, I pushed myself into the screening room to check out another one. I will say that unlike most rapper fueled cinema, this one seems to have a decent budget, but that is about Turn It Up has on those other flicks. At least the other ones usually feature the ever scowling Ice-T, right? I do like some of the more humorous moments, like when the rappers call their girlfriends “bitches” and other ebonics laden antics, but on the whole, this is a lame extended music video. But if you’re a serious rap fan or a glutton for punishment, then by all means check this release out, but you have been warned.
Who is Pras? I’ve heard the name batted around at times, but since I don’t watch much MTV, I can’t say I know much about him. But since I have seen this movie and his comical acting skills, I can be certain that he needs to stick to music, no matter how bad he is. I suppose some rappers have made the transition into movies, but come on, not everyone with a gold chain should be cast in a movie. Now I know he seems like a good choice for this subject matter, but I have to think someone else could have filled this role much better. I found his segment in Da Hip Hop Witch to be very funny, but when he tries drama like here, he falls flat on his face. Word. Some of the other “actors” seen here include Tamala Jones (Booty Call, Blue Streak), Jason Statham (Snatch), Chris Messina (You’ve Got Mail, Rounders), Vondie Curtis-Hall (Drop Squad, Eve’s Bayou), Faith Evans, and Ja Rule (The Fast and The Furious, Backstage).
Video: How does it look?
Turn It Up is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, with a full frame version also included on this dual layered disc. As usual, New Line has delivered a solid transfer, but the film’s low budget roots still show at times. But aside from some grain at times, this one turns out very well and fans should be pleased. Although the colors have a natural scope in hues, some bright shades still emerge and flesh tones seem natural as well. I think the contrast is solid also, but some scenes are on the dark side, which obscures detail somewhat. But on the whole, this is a competent transfer that more than does this picture home video justice.
Audio: How does it sound?
As you would expect from a feature length rap music video, the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track booms and of course, the bass can be powerful. So the main audio focus is on the music, which sounds large and in charge here, a ton of bass use and a powerful overall experience. The surrounds also see some good use from the sound effects, but only in more tense scenes, which don’t come up too often here. The dialogue is clean also, very crisp at all times and no volume problems are present. This disc also includes a 2.0 surround track and English subtitles, in case you might need them.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Aside from some talent files and DVD ROM content, this release has no bonus materials. This comes a shock really, as New Line usually packs in some nice extras. But then again, you can polish some stones all you want, though they’ll never shine much.