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Step Up Revolution treads familiar territory by surrounding its lively and kinetic dance sequences with a predictably generic story.
All Critics (95)
| Top Critics (25)
| Fresh (40)
| Rotten (55)
| DVD (2)
The Step Up dance franchise steps up for a fourth time, unashamedly and unselfconsciously sticking to a tried and trusted formula, here transplanted to Miami.
It's equal parts 'Flashdance,' 'Burlesque' and 'Lambada', all parts ludicrous - but we aren't here for the story any more than we watch Béla Tarr for the salsa numbers.
There's too much color and energy and frenzy in this movie to discount it entirely, but it has a disconcerting tendency to undercut its best notions with some singularly awful moves.
With the most wooden leads of the series to date - an MMA fighter and a "So You Think You Can Dance" alum - the drama between the dancing has never felt more interminable.
"Step Up: You've Seen All This Before" would be more accurate, but Summit Entertainment's marketing department knows that wouldn't help sell tickets.
Delivers plenty of spectacular fancy footwork in what is otherwise a flat-footed fantasy.
There are only so many times you can watch the plucky dance crew try and save the rec center.
All that fancy footwork, supported by high production values, makes Step Up Revolution a watchable and even inventive sequel.
Is there love in the air for our toe-tapping duo? Could this be any more predictable?
It provides exactly what its fans expect and want from it but even as an unabashed lover of cheesy, terribly acted dance films, this reviewer was shocked at just how enjoyable this one was.
The ubiquitous product placements tend to undercut the anti-corporate speechifying.
Despite the fact that there are four choreographers listed on the IMDB credits, even a few of the routines felt flat.
Most film franchises don't make it past their third instalment. The fourth film in a given series - a "four-quel", to quote Mark Kermode - is often the point where all remaining principles and good intentions go out of the window. The franchise has innovated itself as far as it possibly can, the quality has already started to decline (good three-quels are very rare) and everyone has decided to just give up and enjoy what's left of the box office.
Considering the declining fortunes of the Step Up series, you could be forgiven for not holding out much hope for Miami Heat (also known as Step Up Revolution). It comes from a first-time director, features little or no continuity with the previous offering, and is in some respects just as thin and episodic as we've come to expect. But whether through sheer good will or a somewhat tighter second half, it does eventually improve upon its predecessor and ends up as something perfectly passable.
It would be quite a stretch to describe any of the Step Up series as auteurist works. The later instalments in particular are so homogenously mainstream and narratively generic that it's hard to see any positive directorial stamp. But it is worth noting that the series has been at its best when Jon M. Chu has not been behind the camera, vacating on this occasion for Scott Speer.
Like many modern film directors, Speer comes out of music videos, having cut his teeth shooting promos for Ashley Tisdale, Jordin Sparks and Jason Derulo among others. This will produce a groan among many who despise anyone who comes out of either Disney or reality TV shows like American Idol - and I would often count myself in the latter camp at least. But however mainstream and often sanitised his work may be, Speer knows how to shoot good dancing and how to keep his performers focussed on the task at hand.
The first half of Step Up 4: Miami Heat (Miami Heat hereafter) is as boringly predictable as ever. It begins with a pretty decent set-piece and the setting-up of our main characters, who like seemingly every dancer in the history of cinema are waiting for their first big break. From there the plot incorporates incredibly familiar elements such as forbidden love, corporations not having a heart and the underdogs coming together to take a stand. If you've seen any of the first three films, you could watch this with your eyes closed and know exactly where it's going.
Each of the Step Up films have been populated by characters who are painted in very broad strokes. In Step Up itself this was acceptable, because director Anne Fletcher used their melodramatic nature as a springboard into something that was appealing and interesting. But since that point the series has become less and less about character and plot, to the point where if you took out all the talking, it would just be a series of music videos.
Miami Heat doesn't continue this decline, as if things could get any more inane after Step Up 3. But it is still an immensely episodic venture whose moments of dialogue are often just book-ends to the set-pieces. The characters are so clearly defined in their narrative roles that some of them don't need to open their mouth before we know exactly what they will do by the end. If you were immensely generous, you could point to the tradition of silent cinema and deriving character from gesture, but such traditions seem far from the creators' minds.
In terms of the performers, we are again confronted by a number of fine dancers whose acting talents are far outstripped by their ability to bust a move. Like Rick Malambri in the third film, Ryan Guzman is essentially a pretty boy: he doesn't have a great deal of presence, and smiles like he's modelling Levi's jeans. Kathryn McCormick as a dancer is every bit as good as Jenna Dewan in the first film, but she's a little one-dimensional in delivering her lines.
Misha Gabriel gets very little to work with as Eddie, having to play the 'attitude' or suspicious role in almost every scene with little variety. And Peter Gallagher mainly lets his greasy hair and suit do the acting for him; there's no evidence of the charisma that he had in, say, sex, lies and videotape. What's arguably worse, however, are the blink-and-you'll-miss-them appearances by returning cast members who can act. Adam Sevani returns as Moose for all of two minutes, lifting the final set-piece and then swiftly disappearing.
So far, Miami Heat is on a par with Step Up 2, being far too loose and lazy with its characters but not as offensively aimless as Step Up 3. And then, around halfway through, the film shifts very slightly and starts to actually carry a little more weight around. The series returns to its roots, trying to use dancing to communicate an idea or contrast with another section of society, rather than just try to impress us with heavily-edited physical exertion.
Once the mob turns its focus to Emily's father and his plans for the development, the film stops being just another story about young people being cool and misunderstood, and becomes a story about how gentrification threatens culture. This is a theme that has been explored in musical cinema and theatre before, most notably in Rent.
The difference is that Rent is annoying and massively pretentious, claiming to say a lot more than it actually is (and exploiting the AIDS pandemic along the way). Miami Heat is completely no-nonsense: it's proud of what it is, but it doesn't feel the need to shout about it or claim that it's saying anything new or ground-breaking. Its point is simple - that building swanky, modern buildings in places of richly-rooted culture ultimately harms people without big disposable incomes. Once it's made the point, it leaves it where it lies and moves on.
From a visual point of view, the film is a little more rough around the edges than Step Up 3 - which is a good thing. At times its colour scheme is oversaturated, so that some of the set-pieces look like either music videos or adverts for skateboarding. But Karsten Gopinath does bring a more kinetic feel in his choice of angles, and the film is edited slickly without drawing too much attention to itself.
Ultimately, what redeems Miami Heat is a sheer acknowledgement of the talent of these people. The set-pieces are among the most inventive and spectacular in the series, with exciting uses of lighting and set design which genuinely surprise us. The art gallery sequence and the grand finale are particularly impressive, but each of the set-pieces progress to a well-paced, well-planned conclusion. The choreography is irresistable, so that you find yourself going with it even against your better judgement.
Step Up 4: Miami Heat is the best instalment in the franchise since the original, marking a partial return to form after the disappointment of Step Up 3. While the series remains insultingly predictable, and the characters are as broad as ever, it has enough to say and enough evidence of the actors' talent to ultimately make you go along with it. It's hardly the best place to start in exploring the series, but of all the sequels it is the most appealing.
While still riddled with cliches, "Step Up 4: Revolution" is one of the better instalments in the franchise, bringing in an entirely new cast and having a much bigger scale for it's dance choreography. The cinematography and choreography really are the best parts of this film, and even though the characters are not the greatest, by the end you may just feel yourself caring about them. There is one huge problem with this film and that is the main plot, which is the same as son many films out there, but I liked that it did not take over the story and it was just a small element to the film. These films are meant to have a little character development, an easy story to follow, and a likeable cast in order to get us to the final dance sequences, and this film accomplishes that for the most part. You really have to be a fan of cool dancing to enjoy these films, and since I am, this did it for me and I want to see more. The reason I like these later sequels is sue to the fact that they are doing right by their material, which is what the earlier films failed to do. Overall, it's not the most memorable film, but it is fun enough.
One step can change your world.
Saw it again! Very enjoyable movie! Great moves! Strength of will and right attitude are the main ingredients for getting what you want. It is not always about being in the right place at the right time. But also making sure those two will meet you half way. Overall Step Up Revolution may be one of the better movies of this series. With awesome moves, fitting soundtrack, and decent acting, it's definitely refreshing for the audience. However it is still a dance movie with a lot of skewing towards dancing and less to story, so don't expect masterpiece.
The Mob sets the dancing against the vibrant backdrop of Miami. Emily arrives in Miami with aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and soon falls in love with Sean, a young man who leads a dance crew in elaborate, cutting-edge flash mobs, called "The Mob". When a wealthy business man threatens to develop The Mob's historic neighborhood and displace thousands-of people, Emily must work together with Sean and The Mob to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause.
This film has as much plot as the trip I just took in my trip to the restroom. I'm sorry, I usually put more class in my reviews but when a film is completely unnecessary and had no work put into the story of the film then I will put no effort into making a review for it... it was well choreographed. There.
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