Jul 31 2012
When is a movie, not a movie?
It’s a question I had to ask myself as I sat through Step Up: Revolution this weekend. It wasn’t under duress, I’ve genuinely been entertained by these movies for years. As someone who can barely tap his foot in time with music, there’s something very cool about seeing people dance, and dance well.
It’s hard to really call these last few Step Up movies “films.” The first one had some semblance of a plot, and actual actors, as it launched Channing Tatum’s career which has recently gone stratospheric. The others? The central cast has mainly been whichever background dancer was the best looking from the previous film.
It’s more or less a very long music video held together by a few sporadic scenes of dialogue. In fact, it reminded me of a somewhat similar genre, martial arts. Only very, very rarely did we ever watch B-movie martial arts flicks for the story. Rather, plot was simply an excuse for the characters to take a break in between the next fight sequence, which is what we really came to see. As riveting as Ping trying to find his lost elephant was in The Protector, if we cut out every bit that didn’t involve punching or kicking, nothing of real value would have been lost.
Because this is how two people who just met always talk.
The same is true for the Step Up series. Now in the fourth installment, you’re only showing up for the choreography. The rest of the film just hopes to distract you long enough with hot people saying stupid things in order to carry you to the next scene. And really, there isn’t anything wrong with that.
But if you do want a story, here goes. Sean (Ryan Guzman) is a waiter by day, professional flash mobber by night. Yep. He and his friends have formed “The Mob,” a group of dancers who flash mob the shit out of Miami, most recently in order to win a contest that promises $100,000 to whoever gets 10 million video hits. $100K. Split among like, twenty people.
Anyway, math aside, Sean meets Penelope (
Cleopatra Coleman Kathryn McCormick), a hot, more refined, dancer whose father (The OC’s Peter Gallagher, too likable to be a real villain) just so happens to own the hotel where he works. And just so happens to want to tear down Sean’s neighborhood to build a kitten skinning factory or something there instead. Now pop art must become PROTEST ART.
Yes, the group now attempts to become the Banksy of dance, which is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds, but results in some pretty cool set pieces. They stage dance mobs inside high end art galleries, on the tables of fancy restaurants, and in the lobby of the corporation that would do their neighborhood wrong.
TOO MUCH SWAG. #YOLO.
There’s one segment that’s rather poorly timed, as a swanky party is interrupted with tear gas canisters (uh-oh) by intruders wearing gas masks and riot gear (double uh-oh) who then aggressively dance to make a point (whew). But still, it will definitely bring the recent Dark Knight tragedy to mind, but I guess they figured not enough people would see Step Up 4 to really complain about it.
The dialogue is almost a meta-parody of itself (“We were just kids, wildin’ out), but the dancing? It’s fantastic. The climactic fifteen minute finale is probably the most intense dancing segment to ever appear in a movie. If we’re talking martial arts films equivalent, it would probably be up there with Oldboy’s hallway rampage, the Bride vs. The 88 or the continuous-shot tower fight from The Protector. But with dancing.
If you’re in the theater to watch Step Up 4, you probably wanted to see some awesome dancing. And that’s what you’ll get. It’s ALL you’ll get, but for most, that’s enough.
Star rating really doesn’t apply. Five stars worth of dancing. How about that.
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