Step Up Revolution (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Step Up Revolution (2012)

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TitleLast week's major disappointment was through Nolan's final Batman film, this week it's a painful entry in the Step Up franchise.  I'm starting to feel that the world isn't going to allow me to have pleasure anymore.

Coming off the tails of the surprisingly creative Step Up 3D, which features the best use of 3D technology since it came back in-vogue, this dance flick is a huge disappointment.  Gone are the borderline-insane dance routines where coal miners faced off against multicultural robots in a warehouse.  Now it's a bunch of protestors looking to make a dent in the Miami government by taking a stand against a real estate developer who is looking to turn a string of well liked small businesses into one mirrored omniplex.

It's a strange idea turning a series about dancing into a long form commentary on how large corporations are stomping out the little man.  But it's one with promise, dance as an art can be very confrontational and put in the right hands it could have led to an interesting use of the form.  Instead it's a bumper for scenes of people moping around about their relationships failing, their local beer joint closing, and a Youtube contest they just might not be good enough to win.  Ah, so not only is it also a dance film about unchecked Capitalist expansion, it also is really dour and features mostly repetitive dance sequences set to thumping cameras.

This isn't exactly the upper I was expecting on a Friday night.I don't go into Step Up films looking for biting commentary and just want to see some quality dancing with a creative bent.  The opening number suffices well enough as we watch Sean (Ryan Guzman) and Eddie (Misha Gabriel) lead their flash mob crew in a dance that locks down traffic for a bit.  The dancing is a bit lackluster, which is not a good sign, with a large number of flips leading into a shaky camera pound when they land after jumping from car to car.  But there's enough interesting stuff going on in the background, like cars that possess the same bump of the dancers on top of them and street art assembled out of planes of glass which makes great use of 3D.

When it was over, I smiled, and held onto some hope.  Then I didn't get another dance scene for almost forty minutes whiles the film slid in Sean's love interest Emily (Kathryn McCormick) and the real estate plot.  Emily's father is the one who is trying to develop the land and she is trying to get into a prestigious dance academy.  As the film slowly churns through the copy / paste plotting it makes use of the downtime to turn into a bad MTV beach dance party.

Glistening bodies in various shapes and sizes of swimsuits fill the frame with generic grinding instead of any real dancing.  Emily and Sean don't have bad charisma but it doesn't show in their dancing, which consists primarily of Sean trying to find ways to get his head in between her breasts.  This dance is repeated four times in as many locales during Step Up Revolution, highlighting just how lazy the choreography is.  The worst offender is in the climax where the two parkour dancers (which has been a horrible mix every time I've seen it) jump up and down on a hidden trampoline while a generic heavy metal riff screeches on in the background.It's not all gloom and repetition, but even the more inspired sections are drug down by their simplistic routines.  There's a thoughtful series of dances in a modern art museum where they become part of an exhibit and delight the patrons by coming alive.  Then it ends on a broad, flashy, and boring sequence of ballerinas twirling with lights in the dark while generic pop and lock action takes place over some strobe lights next door.  Then another moment where the film stages a dance act as a terrorist action but ends in a smoke screen and a bunch of loud jumping.  The only sequence that escapes unscathed is a scene in an office building when stiffly regimented motions meet a rain of cash in a nice combination of technique and commentary (though that sequence owes a significant debt to World Order.)

Those brief highs do not make up for the perfunctory nature of the whole movie.  This is exacerbated by the fact that the two best dance moments in the film occur during the climax when two of the dancers from Step Up 3D make a brief return.  One also appeared in Step Up 2: The Streets and the first time he came back it was a cute acknowledgement that these films have accidentally created a continuity for themselves.  Now it felt like a desperate attempt to inject some kind of variety into a dance film mired in depression, bikinis, and a whole lot of stomping.

Uninspiring and depressing should not have entered the equation in the same film where a cop doing the robot during a civil demonstration stuffs a doughnut into a politician's mouth.

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Step Up Revolution (2012)

Directed by Scott Speer.
Screenplay written by Jenny Mayer.
Starring Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick.

Posted by Andrew

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