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Overall Rating
2.23

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look: 0%
Just Average: 0%
Pretty Crappy92.31%
Sucks: 0%

2 reviews, 1 rating


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Step Up Revolution
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Piña For Pinheads"
2 stars

When I heard that the latest entry in the redoubtable "Step Up" franchise was to be titled "Step Up Revolution," I instantly began to imagine what kind of film could possibly inspire that kind of monicker. In my mind, I naturally assumed that it would turn out to be the kind of movie that Steven Soderbergh has been heading towards in the last few years--a work that would combine the fancy footwork of "Che" with the nuanced historical detail of "Magic Mike" into an end result that might play like a modern-day "The Battle of Algiers," albeit with slight better street choreography. Alas, once I finally got around to actually seeing it, it turned out to be less like a Marxist version of "Footlight Parade" and more like every other entry in the series--hell, like practically every other danceploitation film ever made from the old Frankie & Annette masterpieces to the Lambada sagas of the early 90's to the hopefully immortal "Burlesque." Whether that is a good or bad thing will depend to a large degree on your own personal tolerance level for such nonsense but whichever way you lean, it cannot be denied that this may be the silliest movie currently in release.

Bearing only the most tenuous connection to the previous "Step Up" extravaganzas (and even that is only deployed during the last few minutes), "Step Up Revolution" is set in Miami and stars newcomer Ryan Guzman as Sean, a good-looking lunk who toils as a waiter at a hideous resort hotel run by the blandly evil Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher, who, between this and earlier appearances in "Center Stage" and the aforementioned "Burlesque," is practically the patron saint of this particular sub-genre). However, like so many young men in Miami, Sean is leading a double life with his full-fledged membership in the Mob. No, not the kind that goes around chainsawing cockroaches who don't pay up and stuff--this Mob is one of those flash mob gangs that show up in public places and struggle to look nonchalant for a while before bursting into highly choreographed production numbers (the first one performed in the middle of traffic, no less) designed to either delight or irritate passersby, depending on whether they have appointments to get to or not. Why are they doing this, you might ask? Well, YouTube is having the contest where the first video to receive 10 million hits receives a cash prize and the knowledge that they have personally contributed to the decline of American workplace productivity. Luckily, they always seem to be performing on slow news days and as a result, newscasters with no drug murders, hurricanes or face-eating weirdos to worry about, are able to devote huge chunks of airtime to report on them at length.

Complications arise when Sean meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick) in the midst of a dance number at the hotel's beach club and it is love at first sight or whatever it is called when a couple have hardly met before grinding up on each other in ways that would have resulted in the cops raiding the theater back in the old days. In a shocking turn of events, it turns out that Emily is a serious dancer who years to be admitted into one of the country's most exclusive ballet programs, one which makes the school in "Suspiria" seem friendly and homey by comparison, and--SPOILER ALERT!--is the daughter of the evil Mr. Anderson. Encouraged to break free of her comfort zone and embrace new inspirations for her dance, Emily joins the Mob and soon she is busting up gallery openings and fancy restaurants with dance numbers planned and executed with such elaborate detail that they make the heists in the "Ocean's Eleven" films seem like slapdash smash-and-grabs by comparison. In a move so familiar that it appears to be the default setting for most dance movies of this type, Mr. Anderson is planning to buy up the run-down neighborhood where Sean and his pals live and hang out in order to build yet another hotel. Betraying her class for a few nice abs, Emily suggests that the Mob shift from contest mode to "protest art" to call attention to the development plans in order to sway public opinion. Is there a misunderstanding that drives a wedge between Sean and Emily? Is there a moment when everything seems lost and we bear witness to the Mob members sadly packing things in boxes? Is there a last-minute reconciliation in which the gang gets back together and saves the neighborhood with one last intricately staged number that they couldn't have possibly rehearsed at all beforehand? Will Sean proclaim his individuality and refusal to sell out to the man in the final moments only to do just that a few seconds later in an absurd stab at a happy ending? Well, to save everyone time, the answers--again, Spoiler Alert!--are "Yes," "Yes," Yes" and "Quicker than Lana del Ray and Zima combined."

Okay, so maybe I am not exactly approaching "Step Up Revolution" with the same degree of seriousness that I brought to my analysis of "Prometheus" or "The Dark Knight Rises" but in my defense, is there any other way that one can take in grappling with a film as helplessly and heedlessly foolish as this? After all, all that anyone really wants to see from a film like this is a bunch of attractive looking people thrusting their batches towards the audience in dance numbers that look more like vaginal exams set to music that are strung together with a storyline that was considered musty back when Mickey and Judy were putting shows on in the local barn. The screenplay is, of course, patent nonsense but does inspire any number of big laughs, especially when the characters talk about "The Mob" with the kind of seriousness that makes it seem as though they are discussing the actual mob. (And yes, there is even a quote from "Scarface"--well, technically the edited-for-television version of "Scarface."). On the acting side, things are equally ridiculous. Guzman tries to approximate the undeniable charisma of Channing Tatum, who got his first big break in the original "Step Up" but based on the evidence seen here, it appears that his swagger coach was AAA-level at best while McCormick, while lovely and a good dance, has an acting range that would need an electron microscope to discern.

As for the dance scenes, I suppose that I should once again preface my thoughts with the admonition that I neither sing nor dance and I am at least somewhat suspicious of those who do. That said, the dance numbers in "Step Up Revolution" as slickly conceived and executed as one could possible hope but they wind up being pretty much just as ridiculous as everything else on display here. I admit that my knowledge of the exact goings-on regarding the creative process of the typical flash mob is as limited as can be but even so, I can't help but have the sneaking suspicion that what we see of it here is a crock. Granted, no one is looking for hard-edged realism but there is a fine line between the believable and the downright goofy and this film constantly stumbles over it with each increasingly implausible number. To make matters worse, while they are performed as well as can be by the dancers, the frenetic editing style winds up doing them a great disservice by forbidding viewers to see the fruits of the labors for more than a few seconds at a time. Truth be told, there is only one dance routine in the entire thing that is at all memorable and it is that way for all the wrong reasons. At one point, some of the members of The Mob decide to crash an exclusive corporate party being thrown by the greedy developer to celebrate his imminent destruction of the neighborhood. Unfortunately, in what is sure to go down as one of the more infamous bits of awkward timing in recent years, they kick off their number by suddenly storming into the party while dressed in what looks like body armor and gas masks while chucking smoke bombs all over the room. Obviously this scene was shot a long time ago and it doesn't have anything at all to do with recent tragic events but my guess is that come opening night, most viewers are going to look upon it in much the same way that another opening night crowd regarded the opening production number from the legendary stage musical "Springtime for Hitler."

That bit of darkness aside (and since I haven't actually seen the film since the events in Colorado, there is a chance that I am reading way too much into it), "Step Up Revolution" is of a type of nonsense so profound that it defies virtually every known form of standard critical analysis and can only really be reviewed in comparison to the other "Step Up" movies. On the one hand, it is nowhere near as good as "Step Up 3-D," a film which was dumb as a box of rocks but entertainingly so and which included one extended one-shot dance through the streets of New York which remains the single finest sequence of the entire series. On the other hand, it is admittedly better than "Step Up 2: The Streets," a rip-off of such incredible laziness that the title was the most inspired thing about it. Finally, it fails to outdo the original film because that one at least has the undeniable star power of Channing Tatum, the beauty of co-star Jenna Dewan and the inexplicable presence of Rachel Griffiths in a supporting role. That said, the fact that I can establish an evaluation system to properly rank the "Step Up" films without a moment's hesitation is kind of thing likely to send me into a tailspin from which I shan't recover for a long time and when I do, it will probably be just in time for "Step Up 5."

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=23161&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/26/12 21:01:39
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User Comments

11/18/12 jim filipe awesome movie....love the dance style nd the graffiti 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  27-Jul-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Nov-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  27-Jul-2012


Directed by
  Scott Speer

Written by
  Jenny Mayer

Cast
  Alyson Stoner
  Adam G. Sevani
  Chadd Smith
  Stephen Boss
  Jessica Guadix
  Megan Boone



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