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edge staff writer


Step Up Revolution' stumbles

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Film offers elaborate dance numbers and not much else

As a film critic, I have the opportunity to see a lot of films that I wouldn't necessarily choose to see. I'm a pretty easy audience I have a fairly wide range of interest but even then, I occasionally wind up seeing a film that is completely outside of my typical area of enjoyment.

Which brings us to 'Step Up Revolution.'

I can honestly say that it had been many years since I had seen a 'dance' movie. Mind you, we're not talking about movie musicals or other films that happen to feature a lot of dancing. We're not even talking about films such as Baz Luhrman's 'Strictly Ballroom.' No, we're talking movies built entirely around dance; we're talking 'Breakin'' and 'Breakin' 2: Electric Bugaloo' and others of that ilk.

And, I suppose, we're talking about the 'Step Up' franchise. 'Step Up Revolution' is the fourth film, and while I can't say for certain (having never seen any of the others), I'm fairly sure the only connection between them is, well, the dancing.

This time around, the story revolves around a young dancer named Sean (Ryan Guzman in his film debut). Sean and his best friend Eddy (Misha Hamilton, 'Center Stage II: Turn It Up') are part of a Miami dance crew known as 'The Mob.' The group choreographs and executes elaborate flash mobs in and around the city, filming their efforts in an attempt to win a big money YouTube contest.

Sean crosses paths with Emily (Kathryn McCormick, 'Fame'), an aspiring young dancer in town to audition for a prestigious contemporary dance company. She also just happens to be the daughter of William Anderson (Peter Gallagher, 'Burlesque'), the real estate developer whose latest deal involves buying Sean's neighborhood and turning it into a hotel and upscale residences.

As you might guess, Sean and Emily totally fall for each other. She becomes involved with both Sean and The Mob, becoming a part of their crew. Soon, she's encouraging Sean and the rest to make the jump from performance art to protest art. Of course, she doesn't tell them that she is Anderson's daughter, because otherwise, where would the conflict in the second act come from?

That's right. Surprise! Eddy finds out that Emily is Anderson's daughter and puts together an impromptu mob that both outs Emily to her dad and gets both Eddy and Sean arrested. It also removes The Mob from contention in the YouTube contest. Emily and Sean break up and Anderson goes forward with his development plans. Only one thing can save the neighborhood.

You guessed it! More dancing!

First things first: The stuff that these dancers can do is incredible. The grace and athleticism is apparent in every move that they make. The choreography is excellent, too. The dance scenes (which as you might guess are numerous) are all flashy, quick-cut eye candy.

Which is all well and good, but at the end of the day, you need to have a story to tell for your movie to be successful. 'Step Up Revolution' doesn't. The performances are clunkily earnest at best, utterly wooden at worst. There's a plot, such as it is, but the truth is that these kids aren't actors. And you can tell, especially with a first-time director (Scott Speer) at the helm. Speer's previous experience is almost exclusively in the arena of music videos, which actually makes a lot of sense; this movie is essentially a 90-minute long-form video.

I won't say that 'Step Up Revolution' isn't fun; there are plenty of people out there who will enjoy it. But I won't say that it's good, either. It isn't. It's simply a bland generic plotline stitched together in order to have an excuse for breakdancing.

There are only so many times you can watch the plucky dance crew try and save the rec center.

1 out of 5


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