Considering my love for musicals and performance arts, it’s odd though I must say, I’ve never really seen a “Dance movie.” I know them all, Flashdance, Footloose, Save the Last Dance, Dirty Dancing, Breakin’, etc., but I’ve only ever seen Saturday Night Fever and the Wayans Brothers spoof Dance Flick. Despite my avoidance of such films, I’m aware of their conventions and how the act of dancing and sequences containing huge musical numbers are these types of film’s major mode of spectacle and therefore its driving force. I almost feel like a douche critiquing or analyzing a “Dance film” for its technical issues because I’m aware that most of them are attempting a thin plot for the sake of showboating flashy movements and cool effects, and boy is there a lot of that in Step Up Revolution.
I’m not sure what the previous films were about, but Step Up Revolution’s simple straightforward plot tells us the story of Sean (Ryan Guzman), a super hot and fit dancer in the Miami flash mob group, The Mob. Consisting of a personal DJ, a professional artist, a techie/Sean’s best friend Eddie (Misha Gabriel), parkour jumpers, a videographer, and an unlimited amount of dancers, The Mob is in the midst of attempting to make a name for themselves through outlandish, glitzy performances in the middle of traffic and classy events. When Sean meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick), a trained modern dancer looking for inspiration, she convinces him to use The Mob to fight against corporate bosses who want to buy out his neighborhood in order to build a hotel in its place. Emily and Sean join forces with The Mob to use their dancing to get them the attention they need to make a change.
For Ryan Guzman, am I right ladies?? As a friend put it, “he’s no Channing Tatum but he’ll do.” Now aside from that superficial tidbit, Step Up Revolution is the perfect example of spectacle. It works using the same mechanisms as a musical or a porno as each scene is only further motivation for a moment of spectacle to happen. The film starts with an introduction of The Mob, immediately acquainting audiences with the crew and how the rest of the movie will unfold. Brightly candy painted colored Chevrolets drive up in the middle of bumper to bumper Miami traffic, a DJ walks by and unloads her suitcase to reveal an array of equipment that she sets up, quickly starting a bass heavy mix that beckons the Mob from their cars to come out and dance their asses off, impressing and wowing others stuck in traffic. The dancing in Step Up Revolution is incredible with a variety of influences. Some dancer’s styles are influenced by modern dance, simple classic ballet, free form, break dance, and krumping. Not to mention the film’s soundtrack is great with plenty of bass bumping, booty shaking beats that got me squirming in my seat itching to bust a move.
At least they can make you forget about all the smog you’re inhaling while sitting in traffic.
Director of photographer Krasten “Crash” Gopinath also deserves kudos for his vision of the film. Step Up Revolution just looks good; the lighting, although obviously and highly unnatural even in scenes involving the “sun,” is bright yet somber giving everything dim golden hue. Everything looks attractive from the skin tones of all the characters to the colors they wear and the colors that surround them. The film is also shot in a high aspect ratio, making for beautiful high definition images that encourages viewers to appreciate the greens of Miami’s palm trees and the deep blues of its waters.
Despite these few positives, Step Up Revolution is littered with crippling bad moments that just can’t be ignored. Its biggest flaw being the awful forced acting, especially from lead actress Kathryn McCormick. While McCormick is cute as a button with strong and fluid dance moves, she’s a subpar lead. It’s obvious that she’s truly trying which is evident in the emotional changes in her voice, however, her eyebrows never move when she speaks or is suppose to express emotion and everything out of her mouth seems like an attempt to flirt. She’s not the only one with a case of bad acting though, as most of the cast is plagued with the disease as well with the majority trying too hard to deliver their lines. Plus, watching the actors in the background of certain scenes is just hilarious as they attempt to not look at the main actors and pretend to have simple conversation.
“Being sexy while dancing and breathing is really all I know how to do.”
Tell me if any of these scenarios ring a bell: boy meets girl, boy has to impress girl’s big shot father before they can openly date. Or boy meets girl, girl has to deal with boy being from the wrong side of the tracks than her privileged lifestyle. Or girl meets boy, girl needs boy to help her reach full potential dispute the dismay if her father. Step Up Revolution surprisingly takes all these aspects and then some, putting it together in a ever-so-predictable package.
One would think that with a focus on all that ass shaking dancing, the editing would be the film’s strongest aspect. And while the editing can be attributed to some of the film’s funniest moments, it’s also the reason some of the dance sequences are weak. The editing is choppy with most of the dance scenes being edited too quickly together to fully enjoy what’s going on. When dancers are right in the middle of a routine, the scenes cut frantically back and forth between different camera angles and also crowd reaction shots taking away from some of the amazing moves and tricks being done by the dancers.
“If you’re not looking at my junk, then you’re doing it wrong.”
While the plot is paper thin and the acting is shoddy at best, Step Up Revolution is not a terrible film. It’s entertaining to say the least and has an impressive theme centered around making a change and fighting for what you believe. If you appreciate the art of dance in any way then sitting through Step Up Revolution is more than bearable, just be sure to knock back a few cold ones first.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you hear the phrase “it’s _ and _ against the world”
Take a Drink: every time you notice music cues attempting to make you care about a character’s plight.
Take a Drink: for every extra you feel like you know personally because of the constant cuts to the amazed crowds.
Take a Drink: every time you dance a little or a lot in your seat.
Take a Drink: every time you notice how great the background dancers are compared to the leads.