Dance-Dance Deconstruction: Why FP2: Beats of Rage Is So Awesome

Review of FP2: Beats of Rage at the Grand Illusion Cinema.

Written by Teen Editor Joshua Fernandes, and edited by Teen Editor Lily Williamson!


FP2: Beats of Rage at Grand Illusion Cinema reminded me why I love movies. So much character has been put into every shot—at one point I thought I could see the reflection of the filmmakers in the cinema screen. The screen, by the way, was tiny, but it was balanced out by the small size of the room. In fact, the whole theater had a sense of closeness, partially because the will call and concessions had to be managed by the same person, but also because the room was packed. The crowd was lively—they laughed at all the jokes, pointed out all the green screen flubs, and made me feel as though I’d stepped into a tight knit group of friends. Everyone seemed to know someone there; even the person introducing the movie called out a few regulars and had conversations with them.

The story revolves around a tournament for a video game called Beat-Beat Revelation, typically abbreviated to just Beat-Beat, which is absolutely not just Dance-Dance Revolution. That would be silly. This game is the primary way in which conflicts are resolved in this post-apocalyptic society, and the tournament serves as a way to determine who will rule over the FP (Frazier Park), which is filled with this world’s hottest commodity: booze. When the Beat-Beat player known as AK-47 threatens the freedom of all those who just want to have a good time, the legendary Beat-Beat ninja JTRO is forced to come out of hiding in order to secure alcohol for his people.

Film still from FP2: Beats of Rage.

The film opened with a warning, stating that the movie is best enjoyed on a three-drink minimum, and immediately transitioned into a flashback scene with horrible visual effects. Bad effects wouldn’t normally be a problem for me with a film this low-budget, but the issue is the inconsistency: not all effects are bad. For example, a few of the lightning effects are done pretty well, but then there are moments like when a background image flickering because of a crappy keying job. This first scene was supposed to be set on a mountain, but the lighting of the green screen led me to think it was set in a middle school. I initially thought this was supposed to be a “so bad it’s good” movie, given the low quality introduction. This set me off a little, as I don’t think any product should strive to be enjoyed only ironically. However, these fears quickly subsided when the film transitioned out of the flashback and into the present day.

This is actually a sequel to the 2011 movie The FP, which was spearheaded by Jason and Brandon Trost, two brothers and experienced filmmakers. Brandon has experience primarily as a cinematographer while Jason likes to direct, produce, and write his own films, even playing the role of JTRO in both FPs. The first movie saw JTRO as a gang member, warring with a rival faction over control of FP. Unfortunately, the film only managed to recoup $40,557 of it’s roughly $45,000 budget, making it very hard for the brothers to find funding for a sequel. Thankfully, they found another way in the form of the indie miracle maker: crowdfunding.

Film still from FP2: Beats of Rage.

FP2’s Indiegogo surpassed its goal of $20,000 by 174%, raising $34,870, and it’s apparent that they spent every penny making this film the best looking it can be. Aside from the janky visual effects, almost every other aspect of this film’s production has been meticulously crafted to look flawlessly hacked together and junky. So many little details have been put into the set design and costumes: mechanical crap hangs out of every crevice, tubes run through every piece of equally useless machinery, and gears, nuts, and screws can be spotted everywhere except attached to something. The sets may be noticeably small, but are so densely packed that you realize that fact only when you’re not looking at the screen. In only the first few scenes of the movie, the time investment is apparent in the frankly stupid number of tiny lights and trinkets. This isn’t even to mention all the nerdy technical details nailed with the camera. This is the movie I wish I had the knowledge and patience to make, and it’s really encouraging to see this movie succeed with such a low budget.

The overall plot is reminiscent of too many movies to name, but rather than being a collection of movie references and motifs, it’s more like a collection of movie cliches. Some examples include the protagonist coming out of hiding for what is essentially “one last job,” the 2nd Act low point in which the sidekick leaves the hero’s side, or the protagonist having (spoiler!) a familial connection to the antagonist. These serve the tone of the film well, but audiences shouldn’t expect a thriller with lots of twists and turns. The acting and writing also follows this overdone theme excellently. The writing may be goofy and cliche, but the actors deliver it all with true commitment to their characters and world. However, one place where the acting, as well as editing and cinematography, could’ve been better was in the actual games of Beat-Beat Revelation.

Film still from FP2: Beats of Rage.

No matter the scene, it always just looks like people bouncing on brightly colored arrows. The dancing never really escalates as the film progresses: the songs don’t ever get faster, and no one employs any mental or physical tricks to gain an advantage on their opponent. The only time people change their playstyle is when they mess up (which is always super obvious) and die. No one has any individual style or unique way they play the game. I also feel there was a missed opportunity in how JTRO trains to beat AK-47—maybe there could’ve been a section in the song he just couldn’t beat, causing him to need to train in a specific way to creatively work around it. But the final fight against AK-47 is pretty much the same as the rest, and AK-47 just loses because of his nerves. It’s really obvious that the Beat-Beat games are just a plot device that could have been replaced with anything.

Although I’ve ragged on this movie quite a bit, I still find it to be spectacular. It looks fantastic, consistently produces laughs, and even has a stellar soundtrack. But the big takeaway from this film is passion. It wasn’t made to turn a huge profit or rake in big money. It wasn’t made to please the largest audience possible or fulfill the demands of a focus group. It was made by a guy who just wanted to make a movie and was brought to life by a niche group of film-loving fans. While it may not be the film medium’s best work, FP2: Beats of Rage truly represents what’s great about film.

The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 5 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog and manage the TeenTix Newsroom. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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