Review: STEP UP REVOLUTION

By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

With impressive choreography, hot dance moves, fun stunts and well utilized 3D, this movie actually has the makings of really cool IMAX movie on dancing.  That is, if only the producers had left out the tiresome, transparent, rehashed and unnecessary story.  Seriously, if the filmmakers had just tossed out the annoyingly bad script, then the obviously talented dancers could simply focus on their moves and not painfully try to act.  As I sat watching this 4th installment in the Step Up franchise, I often wished that I had a remote control to fast forward through the bad writing and acting so that I could get to the more entertaining and sometimes jaw dropping dance sequences.  Unfortunately, I had no such power and had to hang tight until the better scenes graced the big screen.

An obvious rehash of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Revolution’s story involves a group of flash mob dancers attempting to save their community before wealthy hotel developer (Peter Gallagher) takes it over for another fancy tourist resort.  The plot even has the rebellious daughter character Emily (Kathryn McCormick) who wishes to pursue a career in dance.  She, of course, joins “The Mob”, as the dance troupe calls itself, and champions their cause.  The Mob, who, at first, was simply trying to become rich and famous with their flash mob activity via the internet, has to (ahem) step up their game and dance their butts off to save their beloved neighborhood. 

There really is not a whole lot more to say about the script that I haven’t already noted.  It’s another shameless rehash of an old and tiresome “triumph over adversity” story with no surprises, lame conflicts, mostly unfunny humor and an uninteresting romance.  I am a bit confused about the writing credits for this movie.  The final credits in the film name Amanda Brody as the screenwriter of the film; however, IMDB.com and the Facebook page for the movie credit Jenny Mayer.  Either no one wants credit for the film, or the real writer hasn’t decided on a pseudonym to protect her identity and credibility. 

Music video director Scott Speer helms the movie and does so skillfully. Well, I mean that he, his cinematographer Karsten Gopinath and editors Matt Friedman and Avi Youabian produce a gorgeous looking piece which actually utilizes 3D wonderfully.  As a director of acting, Scott Speer clearly took a very hands-off approach.  Most of the cast offers performances which range from painfully bad to descent. 

 As a leading man and dancer, Ryan Guzman actually shows promise as a double threat.  He has a strong screen presence and a warm charisma that actually works well enough in this film.  Guzman portrays Sean, leader of The Mob and love interest of Emily.  Kathryn McCormick, however, offers a really weak and passionless performance as Emily.  She is a great dancer and easy on the eyes, but just did not show any real talent when it came to acting here.  Peter Gallagher, who has done some fine work in other movies, appears bored and simply there to collect a paycheck.  He does very little with his poorly written and developed character. The remainder of the cast features some tremendously talented dancers, but none really stood out as actors.

 Nothing about this movie really makes this movie stand out from its predecessors in the franchise or any other films in theaters.  I will very reluctantly recommend this movie as a 3D matinee for those who enjoy hip hop style dancing, or dancing in general.  The well choreographed sequences and the impressive three dimensional effects are the only reasons to see this movie.  In fact, I wouldn’t even recommend renting this film after it has left theaters.  I truly believe that if the producers of the franchise wish to continue, they should drop the idea of adding a fictional story and make a dancing documentary featuring incredible dance numbers in IMAX 3D.  That would be the best way to step up their game.

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