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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Step Up: Revolution | Kathryn McCormack, Ryan Guzman, Stephen “Twitch” Boss, Peter Gallagher | Review

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4_Chicks_Small Judy Thorburn

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Women's Film Critic Circle -
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Step Up: Revolution

Following in the “footsteps” of the three prior films, Step Up Revolution, the forth installment of the smash Step Up franchise is a must see for dancers and people who enjoy and appreciate the art form.  The plot is familiar, predictable, and filled with cliches but that is all secondary because the movie is more about showcasing the dance sequences, which are all spectacular, and less about the story.

Aside from Peter Gallagher, who is featured in a supporting role that doesn't require him to dance, Step Up Revolution stars relative unknowns.  However, fans of the immensely popular TV reality series, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCS for short) will no doubt recognize several of their favorite dancers and judges from the show that are involved in this production.  Director/choreographer Adam Shankman, who has appeared on SYTYCD as a judge is credited as co-producer.  Choreographer Mia Michaels, cast in a small role, has been a judge and as one of DWTS's leading choreographers, earned an Emmy award for one of her amazing dance routines. Kathryn McCormack who stars as the female lead, and Stephen “Twitch” Boss, featured in a supporting role, were both outstanding finalists in the competitive dance series a few seasons back.

In place of New York City, SU Revolution is set in and around Miami Beach.  Sean (MMA fighter Ryan Guzman in his film debut) lives with his older sister and her young son and works as a waiter in a swanky hotel to make ends meet, but his real love is dancing.  On his off hours, Sean leads a dance crew in a flash mob called “The Mob” (duh!) that stages elaborate dance routines for a U Tube competition that is offering a cash prize of $10,000 for the first video to generate ten million hits.  In hopes of attracting as much attention as possible, The Mob show up at all kinds of events and venues to the surprise of onlookers and the media.

Enter, Emily Anderson (McCormack) the daughter of a wealthy real estate developer who happens to own the hotel where Sean works. She has aspirations of becoming a professional dancer but (of course) her dad, Bill (Gallagher) doesn't approve of her career choice, and against his wishes is hoping to land a spot in the well known dance company led by Olivia (Michaels).

In continuing with the typical musical formula that blends romance with dance, Sean and Emily meet and form an instant attraction. After watching her perform some sizzling moves (a nod to Dirty Dancing) Sean invites her to join the Mob which turns into a learning experience as well as a chance for the couple to get up close and personal. Conflict ensues after it is announced that Emily's father has plans of tearing down the neighborhood, displacing its residents and small businesses, and building a new resort and shopping complex. Proving that dance is a powerful means of self expression, Sean and his best friend Eddy (Misha Gabriel), prompted by Emily, decide to turn their performance art into protest art and make a strong statement. As Sean puts it,“When The Mob speaks, everyone listens... hitting people everywhere they live.”

Each of choreographer Jamel Sims' dance routines are beautifully staged and filmed beginning with the high energy opening sequence atop a lineup of cars on Ocean Avenue that is an example of what's in store. Putting their own spin on fine art, one outstanding sequence has the Mob infiltrating the Miami Museum of International Arts and Culture, dressed in camouflage to blend into the paintings and sculptures before coming alive with cutting edge dance moves to the amazement of the guests.

In their big screen acting debut, the handsome Guzman and lovely McCormack make a beautiful couple, have great chemistry and do a sufficient job.  When it come to showing off their fancy footwork that is when they shine. It isn't hard to believe that although she is playing the beautiful and talented rich girl, and he a working class guy, they connect because of their shared love for dancing and the ability to fight for what they want, even if it means breaking the rules.

Director of photography, Crash (that's how he is credited) makes the best use of the 3D technology,  brilliantly capturing the action, with dancers leaping toward the camera, popping out of the screen and  in your face.

Forget the weak narrative. The best reason to see this film is its pure entertainment value. You may very well want to get up from your seat;  not to leave, but to dance along with the cast.

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