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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Misha Gabriel Hamilton, Peter Gallagher
DIRECTED BY
Scott Speer
SCREENPLAY
Duane Adler (Characters), Jenny Mayer
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
97 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Summit Entertainment
DVD EXTRAS
Extras will include audio commentary with director Scott Speer, choreographer Jamal Sims and cast members Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman, featurettes ("Becoming A Star", "Choreography", "Dancing On Their Own", "Making The Mob"), 2 music videos ("Goin’ In – J Lo featuring Flo Rida & Lil Jon", "Hands In The Air – Timbaland featuring Ne-Yo"), a Flash Mob Index feature, and deleted scenes.
 "Step Up Revolution" a Major Step Down 
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There are a few good moments of entertainment to be found within the 97-minute running time of Step Up Revolution, the fourth outing in the Step Up films that may mostly be known for having helped to turn Channing Tatum into a household name.

Unfortunately, Ryan Guzman is no Channing Tatum and Kathryn McCormick is no actress. Thus, Step Up Revolution is an exercise in cinematic futility that made me want to immediately leave the theater and pop Electric Boogaloo 2 into the ole' DVD player.

To be fair, the film has a few impressive dance sequences but even the film's most impressive dance sequence, its "We're going to save our neighborhood!" finale, is a good five minutes too long and becomes tiresome so quickly that by the end of it your less impressed and more grateful that it's finally finished.

While the other Step Up have mostly been about awesome dance sequences and six-pack abs, they at least seemed to have an almost tongue-in-cheek awareness of what they were and never tried to pretend they were anything else. Step Up Revolution, which easily features the worst acting in the series, can't seem to decide if it's meant to be an action flick, a dance flick, a love story, an "us vs. them" story or whatever else. The film is such a ridiculous mishmash of poorly portrayed genres that there were times I found myself laughing out loud at the ridiculousness of it all.

As the story goes, Sean (Ryan Guzman) is a young man who heads up a dance crew called The Mob. The Mob is pulling off these ridiculously complex flash mobs at various locations around Miami in an effort to win a $100,000 top prize in a Youtube sponsored competition which essentially comes down to "Who gets the most hits?" Given that The Mob is comprised of dancers who obviously have at least a bit of cash on hand considering the electronics, costumes and vehicles involved in their elaborate flash mobs, it's never quite understandable why this rather sizable dance crew would give one iota about the $100,000 split who knows how many ways.

Oh yeah, I forgot. It's all about the art.

Sean just so happens to work at one of Miami's luxury hotels, where he just so happens to encounter the owner's immensely talented (You guessed it. Dance!) daughter, Emily (Kathryn McCormick). The story that unfolds is more than a tad paint-by-numbers. Sean is an under-achieving punk, Emily is a misunderstood daughter and, of course, sparks will fly and Emily will end up involved with The Mob. When corporate America, in the personhood of Emily's father (Peter Gallagher), The Mob goes all revolutionary and Emily must choose sides while Sean's longtime buddy and now jealous friend (Misha Gabriel) grows increasingly frustrated with his now distracted friend.

Admit it. You're thinking of a good half dozen films you've seen with this exact same story line.

They're all better films.

Some of the dancing in Step Up Revolution is impressive enough that I dare not actually fail the film, though on the flip side it has been quite some time since I've found a wide theatrical release this irritating with the possible exception of Adam Sandler's last two films.

Ryan Guzman, an MMA fighter making his screen debut, actually has a few decent moments here and while his dancing is a pale comparison to that of Tatum he's probably going to serve as eye candy enough for most females in the audience. His best scene may very well have been the non-dance scenes involving his niece, which are playful and inspired in a way that no other moment in the film ever achieves. Still, Guzman has a certain presence about himself and it wouldn't be surprising to see him pop up in some additional flicks down the road.

On the other hand, Kathryn McCormick, of So You Think You Can Dance fame, has the kind of voice that made me grateful when she'd start dancing just so she'd stop talking. Her face? Expressive and quite beautiful. Unfortunately, when she opened her mouth it was like nails on the chalkboard or, perhaps, my ex-girlfriend.

Actually, those are one and the same.

Peter Gallagher, about the closest thing the film has to a name in it, is made up to look like a corporate baddie from day one. Gallagher fulfills the role so nicely that the inevitable turn around is so completely unbelievable that I found myself simply wishing they'd remained faithful his bad side.

In fact, while "reality" isn't something you'd expect to find in a Step Up film, it's almost appalling how unreal much of this film feels. It's almost laughably silly how quickly relationships fall apart and come back together, while even the dance sequences are so completely irrelevant to the concept of "revolution" that it's hard to believe nobody sat in the corporate planning room listening to the idea without giggling.

On another side note, The 3-D imagery is completely wasted and even if you find yourself absolutely having to see this film you should do yourself a favor and not worry about seeing it in 3-D.

What should have been a stylish and fun film is instead an exercise all too similar to those godawful 80's dance flicks that had guys and girls with low self-esteem running out to by fake red leather jackets and doing hilariously bad dance moves to hilariously bad disco.

Step Up Revolution needs to step off. A cliff.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic  
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