Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Step Up Revolution

Rock Solid

I'm not sure how many Step Up franchise films can there be, but so long as there are exciting new choreographers itching to show what they have up their sleeves, and actors/dancers willing to take a chance, then there will probably always be room for any story to be strung together for a series of choreographed dances to work in a film. The first one arguably launched Channing Tatum's career, and have inspired various other dance movies to come marching out on cue. Step Up Revolution continues in the formula that will immediately appeal to all fans of dance films, and for those who are looking to be inspired by incorporating some moves into their own routines.

The action now moves to Miami, where a bunch of flash mobbers earn notoriety through their mob stunts, seemingly without much of an aim other than to show the world what they can do, milk an internet stardom out of their performances, gain millions of views, before it's revealed to be for some sort of a competition, where 10 million views on a Youtube like channel will win them that pot of gold worth about a hundred thousand dollars. So what better way than to assemble a crew of like minded individuals who can dance, design and pull off an elaborate flash mob involving dance, and watch their fame, or infamy grow.

But of course there's a need for some form of a story, and that comes from the mob's co-founder Sean (Ryan Guzman), a loafer working at a new hotel in which he meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick), his boss' rich little girl who doesn't get what she wants because her father, real estate magnate Andersen (Peter Gallagher) frowns upon her artistic inclination to be schooled in the art of dance. So hot boy meets hot girl, and through each other, help in the achievement of their dreams, while having some time on the side to get into a relationship and fall in love. The challenges come from Emily wanting to join Sean's mob to hone creativity and originality, while keeping her parentage a secret since her father wants to level everyone's homes and neighbourhood just to build another swanky property.

This plain story actually mirrors the original Step Up in a number of ways, where the male protagonist dances his way to the girl's heart while working with her on her choreography, as a school assignment. And of course that other part where she had to learn, and find it more fun, to be able to hang out with the dance crew and learn their street dancing moves. But let's face it, it's not the story that we're interested in, because it is the dances that we're actually here for. And Step Up Revolution excels yet again in coming up with stellar choreography that adds to the franchise.

There are numerous different dances and scale that I'll be hard pressed to give them all good ratings and to choose a favourite amongst all. The initial dance on the street that you can see in the trailer is wicked, as is the effort of high art blended with high couture dancing in a museum setting. Then there's an intimate one set in a posh restaurant which they turn into a masked ball of sorts, and the invasion of corporate premises with precision moves. There's also one that went awry, and a finale boasting many extras, some of whom come from the earlier Step Up films for the sake of maintaining some continuity, in one extended party that's fantastic from start to finish.

First time feature filmmaker Scott Speer delivers a worthy addition to the franchise, together with film rookies Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick making it passable as lovers and dancing partners. Don't go looking for Oscar winning acting material of course, as they capitalize on their good looks and toned bodies to live up to what their predecessors had delivered in their respective installments. Their acting may not be there, but their dances and their choreography all sizzle on screen, with the camera just falling in love with both to provide mostly all the best angles that any performer can ask for.

It may not be much, but it does leave you wondering how performance art can easily be a galvanizing force through the turning into protest art, making a statement of intent when disagreeing with certain policies, but doing so in a non-violent, and entertaining manner. With specialist characters in the crew this time round, from DJs to street artists, look out for the surprise art pieces that come with the mob's performances, unveiled at the end and usually quite the show piece, together with cameos from recognizable leads in the previous films. A definite recommendation for dance film fans.

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