Jump forward a few years, HSM's time has passed, leaving the doors wide open for Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam: Extended Edition to take center stage. But, along comes Glee, bringing in a slate of new comparisons.
It's a year later and Mitchie (Lovato) can't wait to come back to camp and finally get a chance to spend time with Shane Gray (Joe Jonas), whom she met at the end of the last movie. The first day isn't everything Mitchie hoped; a rival camp, Camp Star, has set up shop across the lake. They're bigger, flashier and seem to have it out for Camp Rock.
After Camp Star steals most of Camp Rock's staff and some of its campers, Mitche takes it upon herself to defend the camp's honor by challenging the rival camp to a Final Jam. As the date for the performance approaches, Mitchie begins to crack under the pressure. Not only is Camp Rock clearly outmatched, but also her relationship with Shane is in trouble.
The original Camp Rock was a movie stuck between worlds. Is it a musical, or is it a story about fitting in that happens to have music in it? When it went for the latter, it was a decent movie, but when it came to trying to capture the same lighting as HSM, it didn't work. Camp Rock 2 makes an even bigger push towards HSM's crown; the dance numbers are high energy and the songs play a bigger role in pushing the plot points. So, to this extent, Camp Rock 2 is a success. However, in making its push, Camp Rock loses its ability to tell a good story.
I place Camp Rock 2 in the same category as those old beach blanket movies starring Frankie and Annette. From a storytelling perspective, it's about as weak as you can get. It's easy to use this as an excuse, but if Glee (and HSM to some extent) have shown us anything, it's the story that will keep things going long after the music has gone out of style.
Plot-wise, Camp Rock 2 is trying to do too much. There's the overriding Camp vs. Camp story, which mainly serves as the glue for the three other plotlines; the Mitchie/ Shane story; Tess's (Meaghan Martin) defection to Camp Star; and a "Romeo & Juliet" tale between Nate Grey (Nick Jonas) and Dana (Chloe Bridges), the daughter of Camp Star's owner.
Although it gets the most screen time (and musical numbers), the Mitchie/ Shane story goes nowhere fast. It feels like a retread of the last movie. Tess's plot is a big deal early on, but dissipates about halfway through. It's a clichéd premise, but the Nate/ Dana story is the movie's most interesting plot and produces the soundtrack's best song, "Introducing Me." The set-up is silly, but it's a fun tune that has a bit of a Jack Johnson/ Jason Mraz sound. On a side note, it's good to see the other two Jonas Brothers get into the act a little more than the last movie.
Extras are light. "Rock Along" will likely get the most looks and is clearly intended for the movie's core audience. There's also a collection of Camp Rock-related videos from around the world and a short introduction to the new cast. Both a Digital and DVD version of the film are packed in as well.
Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam will entertain viewers who are just in it for the music. It has its fans, and they'll enjoy every minute of it. For others, the energy and music is here, but that's about it.