Dance Number Galore, but Story is a Bore

All In

 

 

Dancing, a simple act of motion that captivates so many people in the world. Hollywood has continuously created movies that encompass those gifted in this art, from classic musicals to today’s modern competitions. One such series is the Step Up series, a film that many years ago lit a fuse that would revolutionize the dancing community. While the first installment actually had a decent plot filled with emotion, the movies to follow became diluted tales where moves, comedy, and predictable love stories became the emphasis. With its fifth installment releasing this weekend, this reviewer is back at the theater to see what was in store. Does Step Up All In defy the trend, or has it just taken its place as another dance flick? Read on to find out.

 

One thing that this series has going for it, is that the main characters are pretty in some way, and this movie is no different. Picking up from the Revolution, All In has a hilarious opening where hopeful dancers are forced to parade around in ridiculous costumes, or shirtless for some. Enter Sean (Ryan Guzman) the justice filled rebel from the last series, who somehow has become quite pig headed since moving to L.A. Guzman wasn’t bad mind you, but his character’s inversed morals were annoying, and lacked the emotional drive to back it up. Leading lady Briana Evigan helped a little, her qualities a bit more realistic and noble, but even her emotional drive was flat. The result, another shallow love story that seems to develop out of thin air, and have the depth of a kiddy pool. Perhaps it was just for the eye candy, or perhaps it was just something to give the primary age group to latch on to. Whatever the case, it was sweet, but nothing I haven’t seen in a hundred other romantic comedies, luckily with less crying. Of course there are some other characters that help bail the movie out. My main man Moose (Adam G. Sevani) has returned to the fray to provide not only amazing moves, but comedy as well. As for the main “bad guy” of this tale Jasper (Stephen Stevo Jones), he is more of a tool than a serious threat, a mere wannabe with a crew whose moves were sick. Other fan favorites return as well, though like always they are more of background characters or a medium for the humorous dialog.

 

Putting acting and characters aside, let’s talk a little about the story. Surprise, surprise it’s plain, simple, and just as predictable as the previous installments. Some of the love is authentic and admirable; helping to address some issues in the process, but for the most part is rather bland. Putting romance aside, truth is that the overall plot is very lacking in both emotion and suspense. The situation is simply winning a contest, and while that can be very tense, is rather boring in this installment. A few twists were attempted to be put into the mix, blatant attempts to put drama into crew to get some ruse out of the crowd. However, the drama lacked tension and heat, issues blowing over in seconds with rather emotionless scenes. Even the backstories leading up to this were underdeveloped, and the fear they tried to instill was absent, again blowing over them with ease. Although I knew it was going to be a predictable mess, I was hoping there would be some better delivery of the inevitable conclusion.

 

The story isn’t what you come to see in these movies though. As I, and the movie production team know, you come for the dancing numbers. Step All In does just that, as the crew brings intense moves on to the screen. From the get go, the gang performs numbers that will have fans amazed with their bouts of strength, flipping and twisting as if it were no big feat. Dance numbers are a blend of flips, twists, and pop and lock that flow into each other effortlessly, a tribute to the fine choreography. Many of the numbers are elaborate, with the participants clothed in themed outfits that are part provocative and matching the songs at the same time. Speaking of the music, All In smashes the speakers with intense beat that are mostly gangster rap, electronic, and a little R&B. While not as diverse as the previous movie, in both music and numbers, I found myself dancing in the seat, as I got lost in the bass filled moments. The edgy music goes along with the nature of the numbers, almost all of them a battle between the groups filled with fake punches, cheesy taunts, and hooting for support. Simple I know, but the special effects they pulled out were fun to watch and most likely would have come at you in the 3-D version. Only once or twice did I find the dancing irrelevant or misplaced, being introduced only to give the audience another filler before the main event. For most though, the relevancy of the numbers won’t matter though, because it’s just more impressive dancing.

 

Step Up All In is a fun flick to watch, and fans of the series will be purely satisfied and entertained. Again it’s a movie made for those who like gorgeous casts acting out simple love and spending the rest of the time dancing. Such a simple formula continues to be successful, so there is a good chance it won’t change. Yet it would be nice if the delivery could be tweaked in some manner to get rid of some of the cheesiness. Overall though, I would recommend waiting to see this movie at home, unless you are looking for a movie to go to as a group. My scores for this movie are:

 

Drama/Music/Romance: 6.0

Movie Overall: 6.0

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Artistic Dance, Predictable Plot

           

 So sorry this is late, but let’s face it there shouldn’t be any mystery behind the Step Up genre.  Over the last six years, these dance flicks have continued to pour out into the theaters and with today’s modern television have been eaten up by the public.  While the dancing has always been entertaining on various levels, the producers are still struggling to add diversity and that something new to keep the crowd interested.  Unfortunately for the last two installments, that new edge is 3-D, which may have you wondering, “Is this really needed for a dance movie?”  Well I’m back from a late showing to give you the scoop on Step Up Revolution and hopefully answer your questions of whether this sequel is worth a watch.

As many of you may have noticed, the Step Up series started out balanced in story, character development, and well choreographed dance moves.  However, like so many modern movies these days the story is usually sacrificed for some other movie magic that usually is overused more than the send text command on a cellular phone.  Yet to my surprise this movie managed to keep a slightly better balance than its previous two predecessors that will grab hold of other audience members.  Now I’m not saying it’s the best, but there is some character development and shallow love stories that will make Dirty Dancing fans pine over that classic romanticism.  This doesn’t mean it’s like a dance version of Twilight, no instead it’s presented more as a Romeo and Juliet theme where the girl and guys families don’t see eye to eye.  The lovers decided to hide their identities from their respective elders and instead of killing each other with swords, use their moves to help express the feelings and fight the bad guys.  Despite the nice presentation though, the story is predictable as ever and there really is no surprise about what is going to happen to whom.  I won’t tell you any details, but let’s face it in a movie like this you can pretty much guess the ending with little effort.

Of course if you’re like most fans of this movie you care less about the story and character development.  Instead the focus might shift to other aspects like dancing, music, and yes eye candy for both guys and girls.  Well this movie is definitely all those characteristics wrapped in a colorful, techno/rap wrapper with lots of flashing lights.  Fans of the previous installments will be impressed with the dance numbers this installment has.  Most of the dances have one of the stars leading a well choreographed mob in movements that would give a Michael Jackson music video a run for its money.  However, what impresses me are some of the sick stunts, the extras throw out in between that add that extra edge to the performance.  While some of these moves are rather silly, i.e. a few guys looking like they are going through electroshock therapy, there are a few flips that will make you think, “Hey he’s part Jedi.”  The breakdancing is quite good and when intertwined with the various dance styles in this movie, one can’t help but be impressed with the work and talent of these people.  However don’t jump the gun and think this movie is just a bunch of flips and protest art rebel gestures, no there is some poetic skills involved as well.  As the love story develops, there are various scenes that show off the more graceful side of dancing, i.e. ballerina moves that are elegant and beautiful.  Those who like this artistic style will again be impressed with the fluidity of the actresses involved, especially Kathryn McCormick, who continues to show us she can dance.

However what is dance without music and Step Up Revolution once again picks a soundtrack worthy of their moves.  I haven’t found out if these remixes are original or picked up from another D.J., but regardless they have been selected to help provide not only the beat for the dances, but also the emotion.  The moment Penelope opens up the trunk and hits play, you start to get pulled into the song and feel the emotions of the setting.  Although many of the songs have aggression and rage to their tones, there are a few that are softer and more trance like.  I warn you that if you don’t like Techno, Rap, or a combination of the two, you will definitely hate the music.  The tracks are uncensored and full of cursing, slang, and sometimes loud yelling, which may distract you from the art of the editing.

Finally if you are one who is going for staring at beautiful women or handsome men, well again you’ve picked the right movie.  Unlike some other recent movies, Step Up Revolution does a nice job showing off the bodies of the stars and helps get people howling without stepping over the line.  Most of these people can dance and are okay actors, but they were also chosen to rope in a wider array of audience members.  For me I cannot lie that McCormick is very cute, did a decent acting job, and impressed me with her moves.  Even Ryan Guzman and Misha Gabriel Hamilton did a nice job with their roles, and didn’t just flex their muscles and look sad for the women, as many modern guy stars tend to do.  Girls don’t worry though as there are plenty of shirt off moments to make you happy, and guys well there are plenty of bikini clad women to make you drool.

Overall Step Up Revolution may be one of the better movies of this series.  With awesome moves, fitting soundtrack, and decent acting, it’s definitely refreshing for the audience.  However it is still a dance movie with a lot of skewing towards dancing and less to story, so don’t expect masterpiece.

Here are the scores:

Drama/Music/Romance:  7.5-8.0

Movie Overall:  6.5