The film franchise that can’t stop, won’t stop is back with a film that is bigger than ever. Step Up Revolution is a fun hodge-podge of everything that made the first three films enjoyable and a plot that is a little bit more relevant to reality. It is not without its blatant flaws, but it has enough going for it to warrant buying a movie ticket.
Step Up Revolution takes the franchise out of school and off the streets and uses a flash mob to showcase the talent. “The Mob” is a group of insanely gifted Miami misfits led by best buds Sean (Ryan Guzman) and Eddy (Misha Gabriel). They are dancers who are trying to win a YouTube competition by getting 10 million hits on their page before any other contestants. They show up out of nowhere and command the attention of everyone around with intense choreography, dazzling special effects and custom-mixed music. Aspiring professional dancer Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick) falls for Sean and joins The Mob as a silent rebellion against her straight-laced father (Peter Gallagher, who lends a little gravitas). When it turns out that Mr. Anderson’s development company plans to destroy the neighborhood where most of The Mob members live to build a new hotel, Emily convinces the group that their performances should be in protest of her father’s plan. For some reason (I guess they needed another conflict in there), she does not tell them that she is his daughter. You will have to tune in to the film to find out if they win the contest, if Mr. Anderson levels a neighborhood, and if Sean and Emily’s new relationship survives all the drama.
What makes this film revolutionary is definitely the choreography. Putting the dancers in a variety of settings gives choreographer Jamal Sims extraordinary freedom and he shines here more than ever. I was in awe as I saw art come to life when The Mob took over a museum. The drama of their protest performance at a City Council meeting was amazing because it was entirely plausible for the actors to just show up in business suits and take over the escalator.
What is not so amazing is the script and the acting. Most of the jokes fall flat so the film almost drifts into “so bad it’s good” territory. And Kathryn McCormick is a vision when dancing in any style, but her delivery of the stiff and trite lines is almost painful. Many of the other characters have the same qualities that will make you say “shut up and dance already.” The 3D technology was more unnecessary than the eyeroll-worthy dialogue, making the dancers look like clay robots and shoving various body parts into the audience’s faces. Dance films can be plenty cool without visual gimmicks. I thought it was disrespectful to the choreography to make some of the dance scenes look like a bad video game.
If you are a dance movie geek, go ahead and see this in 2D and prepare to be amazed, because the artful dance performances are as incredible as the rest of the film is ridiculous.
Final Grade: B-