STEP UP REVOLUTION
** (out of 5)
July 27, 2012
Kathryn McCormick as EMILY ANDERSON
Ryan Guzman as SEAN
Misha Gabriel as EDDIE
Peter Gallagher as BILL ANDERSON
Directed by: Scott Speer
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
In some ways, formula films are the easiest things to review. On one hand, they’re made with a specific audience in mind, one that expects very specific things. They are not known to be original, and they work for the fans as long as they deliver on the elements of the formula those fans enjoy.
On the other hand, they can be tedious and boring to watch, for the non-fan (which is likely to be most critics). This is why romantic comedies get such a bad rap from critics around the world. And like the romantic comedy, when a formula piece like a generic dance film deviates from its formula, it might get praise but threatens to alienate its fan base.
So it’s no wonder that “Step Up Revolution” – or any of these modern urban dance films – is being raked across the critical coals. But that’s not going to keep the fans of the movie away. If anything, it’ll make the film sound that much more appealing.
And this is exactly the case with “Step Up Revolution.” It’s made for the fans, and it shamelessly falls into its own formula without swerving into self-parody… for better and for worse.
The story actually deviates from the series in that the dance crew (known as “The Mob” in this iteration) isn’t traveling to a dance-off at the end of the film. Sure, they’re trying to win some money in a YouTube contest, but that’s not really the point. This scrappy group of kids take to the streets, using dance as “protest art” to stop an evil businessman from tearing down their section of Miami to build a luxury hotel. The big not-so-surprising catch to this is that the businessman’s daughter has joined the crew to fight against him.
It’s a Scooby-Doo plot with cardboard characters, teeth-grinding cliches and some of the worst acting you’ll likely see until the next “Twilight” film hits screens this fall. But damn if those dance sequences aren’t cool.
Sure, the love story is as trite as they come. The logic of the film is impossible to follow. Plus, for a bunch of poor kids, this is the best-funded dance crew that has ever stepped up on the planet, boasting fantastic light shows, expensive costume changes, flat screen televisions and enough hacking power and infiltration know-how to take over a small country. But that’s not the point, is it?
These movies are like the “Transformers” franchise, with dancing instead of robots. No one’s seeing it for the plot, characters, story, depth, dialogue or acting. Enough of that nonsense. People see these movies for the innovating and often energizing dance sequences. That is their strong point, and that’s where they succeed brilliantly.
As the second of the series to be shot in 3D, “Step Up Revolution” utilizes the visual technology extremely well, with awesome choreography and high energy moves. It probably has the most innovative use of 3D and dance moves in the entire series, and that’s why people who love these movies will enjoy the film.
If you’re one of the viewers whose eyes were glued to any season of “So You Think You Can Dance” (and if so, you’ll recognize the leading lady Kathryn McCormick as one of the show’s participants), you’ll love it.
If you’re not, avoid this one.