A rant on Step Up Revolution

Step Up Revolution; the fourth sequel to Step Up, so long awaited by dance fanatics, finally aired over the summer. I was so excited for this movie that I was ready to write a review so gushy that happiness would just ooze right out of the page, but now that the initial spasm of joy has dissipated, I’m left sitting here not really knowing what to say. Step Up 3 was pretty amazing (1 and 2 were decent as well, but not as eye-popping) and we know that as a movie series goes on, directors have to try harder and harder to keep the audience interested. Well, the fourth movie to this series certainly is a novelty with numerous fresh ideas, but perhaps the directors could have used a little more time to plan.

Allow me to elaborate: The plot revolves around Emily (Kathryn McCormick), a young woman who comes to Miami with her father in hopes to join a dance company and pursue her dream of becoming a professional performer. She meets Sean (Ryan Guzman), a member of a street dance crew that appears in random public places to put on amazing dance performances then disappear, leaving behind just their name, “The Mob”. Wanting to learn to dance with more spirit and feeling, Emily convinces Sean to let her join the crew while practicing to audition for a prestigious dance company. Meanwhile, her father, who is a developer, makes plans to tear down dozens of homes of an old tight-knit community of people in order to construct a modern park. Among the rather poor but very caring families living in the designated area are members of The Mob. The dance crew wants to change this ill fate of their community and the members decide they had “enough of performance art; time for protest art!” With their dances, they start sending out messages to the public, speaking out against the city’s plans. During all this, they are trying hard to win a $10,000 online-dance-video award, which they presumably desperately need. However….  In the dances, they use expensive cars and suits and costumes, and in one there are even bills being tossed all over the place. So yeah, on one hand, you’re really poor and scraping and scratching to make ends, but, on the other hand… It seems like the few thousand dollars shouldn’t even make a difference to you.

I was looking forward to this movie so much that I don’t really want to criticize it too much for this. However, I do recognize that the real good movies are the ones that don’t have ridiculous plot holes like this, and having to turn a blind eye isn’t really good criteria for being able to say that a movie is good. They shouldn’t leave it to you to try to find a way to wrap your head around what the heck is going on, and it just makes the story seem like a poorly glued together collage of ideas that don’t really tie into each other at all. So, sadly, I cannot muster up much defense for this film. Maybe the crew had some really lucky connections and was able to borrow the cars and suits, or they “borrowed” with no intention of returning? Either way, the logic of the film is not very impressive.

Another aspect that’s a bit of a damper is the acting. It really wasn’t the best: many people complained about Emily and Sean’s acting performances, much like the ones of many other members of “The Mob”. The best actor was truthfully probably Emily’s dad, and he was barely even there. That’s just what happens when you have a movie that focuses on dance; actors are chosen for their dance performance, and acting takes a back seat. Only the characters who are there just to fill in non-dancing roles are chosen for their actual role-playing talent. This is pretty understandable but it doesn’t make the movie any better. If we turned a blind eye again, we could say this could potentially be beneficial by taking some attention off the main characters, who, good acting or not, are the central focus of the entire story. The main characters would thusly be the stars of the dance scenes while the non-dancing parts are dominated by the minor characters. Objectively speaking, this provides a good balance of attention coverage and focus, bringing out all the components. That being said, poor acting isn’t ever really a positive thing.

I was hoping I could say that the dance parts are the saving grace of the movie, but I’d have to be lying. The dances can make a pretty cool impression on a 3D screen, when you’re just seeing them for the first time, but with a closer look you’d see that they are just made of quite simple and repetitive movements. The only really impressive thing about them would be the costumes and effects used to complement them. I thought the artistic ideas and concepts of this movie were pretty original and creative but they lack a good foundation to build on. It’s as if you have beautiful decorations and frosting but on a dry and crumbly cake.

Well, I think that basically sums up my general impression; the movie had some great ideas that could have made it really amazing, but it lacks forethought and fails to tie up the loose ends. I tried as I could to find some praise to say, but I run up short. The only good thing I can sincerely say about Step up Revolution is it incorporates some ideas that would have been amazing if organized well (and almost make it worth watching), but sadly that amazingness was not attained. To tell the truth, this is the movie I’d say the phrase “a disappointment worth seeing” describes best; There are several very inspiring concepts weaved in the story, but they’re not developed very well, so the whole thing seems a little frayed, and well, “unfinished”. Streetdance, which on its own has its own handful of debatable components, was a much better-crafted dance movie in comparison.

Rather like Jim Carrey’s Yes Man, Step Up Revolution has all the potential to be amazing groundbreaking masterpiece, but is a let down from that expectation. People who turn a blind eye to the shoulder-shrugging components could really enjoy this movie, but for the skeptical critics, the most enjoyable part may turn out to be the popcorn.