Step Up Revolution: Review Roundup

This past weekend, Summit Entertainment released Step Up Revolution, previously known as Step Up 4: Miami Heat, the latest in this dance-film series, to mixed though somewhat negative-leaning reviews. The creative team includes Scott Speer (direction), Amanda Brody (screenplay), Karsten Gopinath (cinematography), Carlos A. Menéndez (sets), Rebecca Hofherr (costumes),  and Chuck Maldonado, Christopher Scott, Jamal Sims, and Travis Wall (choreography). The cast includes Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick, and Cleopatra Coleman, with Stephen Boss, Tommy Dewey, Peter Gallagher, Misha Gabriel, Mia Michaels, and Megan Boone. Rated PG-13.

Neil Genzlinger (N.Y. Times): It’s amazing that the dancers in Step Up Revolution can move so well through all that cheese. Yes, the fourth Step Up movie has arrived, and of course it’s full of invigorating dance numbers that are made all the more entertaining by the 3-D technology. Alas, the dancers have to stop sometimes to allow the utterly unoriginal story to be told, and the romance at the center of it inspired Amanda Brody, the screenwriter, to produce dialogue so cheesy as to be laughable. … But no one goes to a Step Up movie for the plot or the romance. Only the dancing matters here.

Mick LaSalle (S.F. Gate): Here is the fourth installment of a series that no one exactly takes seriously, with a script that was probably written in crayon, and yet nobody onscreen seems willing to admit that they’re in anything less than West Side Story. … Every practical, tangible thing about this film is ghastly. … The dances are long, and aside from McCormick and Guzman’s duets, the choreography is awful – mostly staccato gestures, acrobatics and men doing line dances, most of it filmed in short takes and accentuated by stop-action animation to make the dancers look even more mechanical. It’s all quite dumb, lousy and earnest, and yet not for one flicker of a second is it obnoxious. Look, these people are dancing for you. They’re trying. You don’t have to love it, but you can respect it.

Justin Lowe (Hollywood Reporter): While diehard fans and dance fanatics will respond in the opening frame, ongoing competition from superheroes and cute cartoon characters may slow momentum in subsequent weeks. … Scott Speer acquits himself adequately, particularly since the movie is more akin to a long-form video project. Playwright and first-time screenwriter Amanda Brody plays it safe, leaving the pyrotechnics to the choreography team and sticking to the franchise’s proven dance-romance formula, which offers few surprises but delivers effectively. … By now, however, 3-D dance performances are routine for the genre and with the exception of a few notable aerial tricks, Revolution doesn’t offer many stylistic innovations.

Roger Moore (Chicago Tribune): Step Up Revolution taps into the dance “flash mob” phenomenon and moves to Miami to give us the sunniest and most entertaining of these kids-gotta-dance musicals … brilliantly choreographed, well-shot and sharply edited treat. … But it’s not just the choreography that sells this over-familiar story. Speer peoples the screen with legions of jaw-droppingly gorgeous dancers, actors and extras – shaking what they’ve got in 3-D. … This under-scripted, super-sexy cinematic postcard is the one the tourist board should post on its website. Come to Miami. Bring your bikini. And your dancing shoes.

Mark Olsen (L.A. Times): Though the location-specific choreography looks like it could be impressive, the film’s frantic cutting style makes it difficult to simply enjoy bodies moving in space. … The film ends on a predictably triumphant note with vague platitudes of reconciliation and an offer to participate in a marketing campaign for a multinational campaign with a shaky labor-practice record. One perhaps does not expect a fully formed and cogent political platform from a Step Up film, but when a movie puts Revolution in the title and engages community action and social justice directly there should be more at the end than simply selling out to the first bidder.

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