(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 4 August, 2012, retrieved from http://newindianexpress.com/entertainment/reviews/article583232.ece)
Cast: Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick, Misha Gabriel, Peter Gallagher and others
Director: Scott Speer
Rating: 4 stars
Step Up Revolution begins with something of a cliché – a voiceover tells us how a big town makes us feel small, and how you “need to speak louder than everyone else to be heard”. We then meet the speaker, a good-looking young man with his baseball cap on backwards, doing a solo step routine in his room.
Turns out this is Sean (Ryan Guzman), who, along with his best friend Eddy (Misha Gabriel), has founded a mixed-race group that only goes by the name ‘The Mob’. They court arrest, but the police force in Miami seems laidback enough not to anticipate their antics. On the rare occasion that anyone’s arrested for criminal behaviour, the bail is so light on the pocket that a man called ‘Ricky’ with a run-down business can afford to get two of them out of jail.
When the film begins, The Mob only cares about generating enough interest on YouTube to pick up a prize for the first video to reach 10 million hits. Step aside, Kolaveri Di. But for all these surprise flash mob stunts, they’re “getting their butts kicked by a singing cat”, as Sean’s sister helpfully points out. Things take a turn when hotelier and businessman Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher) decides to buy up an entire strip along the beach and convert it into a luxurious township. Encouraged by the token Cinderella (Kathryn McCormick), The Mob, well, steps up.
The plot could make you sneer. But this is a genuinely well-meaning film that, if you’re in the mood for it, can leave you feeling you can get anything once you make up your mind to go after it. Of course, it helps if you have the right girlfriend – or the right Daddy. To my relief, The Mob and Cinderella – well, her name’s Emily – have no lofty ambitions. All they seem to care about is their hangout, their money, and their relationships. Within this framework, there’s a good old boy-meets-girl story which is nowhere near as icky as it could be, thanks to the fact that most of the film’s dedicated to dance.
The 3D effect makes us feel we’re part of the scene, and some of the dance pieces gave me gooseflesh. One particular composition is sheer poetry, while the finale makes you want to get up and dance in the aisles of the cinema. Choreographer Jamal Sims creates a series of visually delightful performances, each of which is unique in style and execution.
You don’t go into a dance movie looking for an outstanding storyline, but it helps when you get some laughs in. The filmmakers know the weight of the movie has to be borne by the dancing, and give it a skimpy enough framework to allow it to carry through.
The Verdict: If you have the least interest in dance or photography, Step Up Revolution is a visual treat you shouldn’t miss.