Theatrical Review: Step Up Revolution

Sean and Eddy are best friends who have formed a flash mob dance crew called The Mob. They live and work in Miami for a large hotel, but their main passion is their art. Their talented crew are trying to get themselves noticed and they do so with impressive effects. They’re trying to win a $100,000 prize through YouTube by getting over 10 million hits on their channel.

Emily Anderson is a talented young dancer who’s trying to go professional against her father’s wishes. Her father just happens to be the developer of the hotel that Sean and Eddy work for. One day, Sean and Emily cross paths and of course, they;re immediately attracted to each other. Sean invites Emily into his world which is a low rent area of Miami, but once she’s there, Emily sees the magic of the area that Sean’s been living in. Emily’s trying to be accepted into a prestigious dance academy and while she’s told she’s technically proficient, she’s also told that she needs something a little more. Sean invites Emily to see The Mob in action and once she does, she wants to join.

Then bad news hits; Emily’s father is making a bid to take over the are where Sean and his friends live and literally wipe it out for further development. Now, Emily wants to help Sean and The Mob save their homes by taking their art from purely exhibition to protest art.

That’s the premise to Step Up Revolution the latest film in the popular Step Up series. As I said back in my review for Step Up 3D, I used to make fun of these movies, but have since learned way better thanks to TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. Step Up 3D was the first of these films that I saw in theatres and I just thought it was as fun as could be. Sure, you’re not exactly going to see the most engrossing stories here and you’re not exactly going to see Oscar calibre performances. I think if you got either of those, it would be pure gravy. What you go to these movies for are to see some very impressive dance performances and hear the hard-driving music. And now since these movies have made the move to 3D, you’re also seeing some of the very best 3D that’s out there to see. This was definitely the case with Step Up 3D and for the most part, it’s the same with Step Up Revolution.

One of the things that I most enjoyed about Step Up 3D was it’s atmosphere- it sought to take it’s contemporary dance style and mix it with the atmosphere of old Technicolor musicals. It didn’t take itself too seriously and just had an overwhelming joy about it celebrating it’s artform. Now don’t get me wrong, that same joy is in Step Up Revolution, but there is a little bit of a darker tone to the film and it’s paced just a little slower. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, it’s still quite entertaining, just not to the same ways that I thought Step Up 3D was.

Where Step Up Revolution really excels is in it’s extremely high-charged and downright thrilling dance numbers- right from the opening, you’re going to see some pretty amazing stuff. The Step Up producers are thoroughly embracing 3D and it absolutely shows. Yeah, I expect these would look just fine in 2D, but here’s an example where 3D really does enhance what you’re seeing on-screen, making each number even more thrilling.

Ryan Guzman plays Sean and Kathryn McCormick plays Emily. If you watch So You Think You Can Dance you should recognize McCormick as one of the past contestants and as one of their All-Stars as well. Guzman is, for this type of movie, quite impressive and certainly has a high likability factor. McCormick lacks a little in line delivery and emotion, but more than makes up for it in sheer physical presence and her skill. When she’s in a scene, you’re just drawn to her, even when she’s not dancing. One can certainly hope that she’ll further develop her acting chops, because if she can, she could go quite far. Misha Gabriel plays Eddy, and he brings a little bit of a darker side to the film, though he and Guzman do have an obvious chemistry together.

If you’re a regular watcher of So You Think You Can Dance then you’re bound to recognize some of the other players out there as well, and that’s always a treat. Stephen “tWitch” Boss returns from Step Up 3D playing the same character, but now transplanted to Miami and firmly part of The Mob. Philip Chbeeb has been seen in SYTYCD as well as in America’s Best Dance Crew as part of the winning crew of the sixth season of that show, and he’s just as much fun to watch here. Even choreographer and SYTYCD judge Mia Michaels is here, playing the head of the academy that Emily is trying to get into. Rounding the cast out, you’ve also got Adam Sevani returning as Moose, near the end of the film for a very impressive number, and veteran actor Peter Gallagher playing Emily’s father. Oh sure, you’ve certainly seen Gallagher do better work elsewhere, but his presence certainly does add a little gravity to the cast.

Step Up Revolution really is a lot of fun, and just goes right into overdrive whenever it shifts into any of it’s impressive dance numbers. It’s story and characters are formulaic, but for this sort of film, I just don’t think it’s a bad thing at all; it makes it feel comfortable and just let’s you really bask in the film’s set pieces. If you do choose to see this, and of course I am recommending it, then I’d certainly hope you will go see it in 3D. The 3D here is absolutely amazing and I’ll even go so far as to say it’s probably the best 3D I’ll see in a movie all year. I’m sure it’s just fine in 2D, but in 3D, it’s just thrilling and compelling. Can’t wait to see what they’ll do for the fifth film now…

By Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

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