Director Scott Speer is the man in charge in this fourth go-around in the Step Up franchise. He picks up where Jon Chu’s third installment left off in 2010…sort of. What was arguably the best film in the series, Step Up 3, or Step Up 3D as it was originally called, is a tough one to top. Sure the acting is rather unnoticeable and the story was cliche, but here comes Speer’s version!
…which is pretty much the same thing as Chu’s version, just with less personality. What does that mean? Well, let’s take a look. In Step Up 3, there was a conflict over loss of home and property, betrayal by the lead female dancer whose specialty was ballet, followed by the good guy hip-hop dancer who’s just trying to be himself. However, in Step Up Revolution, it involves loss of home and property, betrayal by the lead female dancer whose specialty is ballet, and then there’s the good guy hip-hop dancer who’s just trying to be himself. The End. Roll credits!
Okay, I promise I’ll give you more than two paragraphs of negative dialogue. After all, there are some high points here. Those, however, cannot be found in the abyssmal acting that comprises this film. The biggest offender of which is the very cute Kathryn McCormick. McCormick plays Emily, the daughter of a billionaire developer whose plans involve bulldozing a Hispanic community’s gathering spots, watering holes and neighborhood. Peter Gallagher assumes the role of her dad and protagonist developer who wants to put a luxury resort where the aforementioned community currently resides. His primary focus rests on his multi-million dollar plans, far removed at times from his daughter’s dream of making her big break into a top tier ballet academy.
Enter Sean (Ryan Guzman) who is part of a mystery dance group simply known as The Mob. Guzman is an awesome dancer. I am envious. Guzman is not an awesome actor. I shudder. When both he and McCormick are the mainstays of a scene that involves anything other than dancing (and no there’s no sex here), it can be painful to watch. And I repeat, McCormick’s lack of ability in the thespian arena stands out like a sore thumb, even amongst other performers in the film whose claims to fame are not acting. Oh, so Ryan and his crew are the opposition trying to save the community, but you most likely came to that conclusion already because this film is about as predictable as your fifteenth reading of The Little Engine That Could.
Awww S#&%, that’s me breaking the Why So Blu rules and going past a five-dog limit. Alright, now let’s get to the actual meat of this picture. Believe it or not, Step Up Revolution does not aim to pride itself on tremendous acting talent (imagine that!). You are in the theater to see this movie because of the dancing. You do not watch Dancing with the Stars to see the guest music act. You do not see Cats on Broadway to hang out with the venue’s ushers. You are watching this film for one reason above all else; to make out with your girlfriend in the darkness amidst complete strangers…I mean the dancing. You’re here for the dancing. This movie delivers hard core on hip-hop, including some absolutely wicked pop-locking, robot work and breakdancing. Ballet is the secondary art form here, but certainly gets its day in the sun accumulating admirable screen time during the film.
A regular in Revolution who was also a major player in the third film is Stephen ‘Twitch’ Boss. He’s presence is a welcomed addition to the very capable cast of dancers here whose numbers tally more than what some action films employ in stuntmen. The dance numbers are rock solid and provided several ooh’s and ah’s among the theater patrons at the showing I attended. The choreography, and I cannot deliver this in any other literary eloquence than to say…was simply bad ass. It was original. It was inspiring. It was a furious current of adrenaline abruptly dismantling the damn that attempted to hold it back.
The museum scene cannot be missed and was nothing short of artistry in motion. The office number was mind-blowing. Even the practice sessions The Mob went through were solidly entertaining. The one number that stole the show was appropriately enough the mass dancer finale. Yes, I’m very cognizent of the fact that I’ve spent a good deal of this review comparing the two films, but if there’s one area where Revolution surpassed its predecessor, the nod goes to the group dance at the end. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the competition at the end of 3, but what’s in store here had stellar production value and even brought back some familiar faces. ‘Enthralling’ comes to mind.
Before I wrap this up, let it be known that as much as I complain about the anemic use of 3D in 3D movies, I made it a point to see this movie in 3D. Why? Because I knew they’d utilize the technology properly and I wasn’t disappointed. If I’m going to don those ridiculous and uncomfortable clown glasses for 90 minutes or more, I want stuff flying at my face. I want rockin’ three-dimensional scene work, not this crap that John Carter 3D portrayed. If you thought that movie used proficient 3D, either you or your ophthmologist should be imprisoned for a horribly misleading opinion or blatant malpractice.
So the story and acting, two major components of any film, were major concerns here that fell very short of even achieving the rank of “OK.” In addition, the characters just weren’t as likeable as they were in Step Up 3. On the bright side, the 3D was done right and the dancing was off the charts. Normally, I’d give any film with this poor of an acting job a score that resembles a sinking ship. However, this is a “dance” movie and you are here to see the “dancing” in a “dance” movie. Think of it as a weighted average, not a traditional one. The bottom line is, if you want to experience some incredible skills from the very talented cast, then bust a move and see this in the theater. If this stuff doesn’t excite you, well then I can’t even recommend it all. If anything, Step Up Revolution should definitely be on your radar for a rental, but moves this good display best on the big screen.