Film Review – Step Up: Miami Heat

Step Up: Miami Heat (PG)

Directed by: Scott Speer

Starring: Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick, Peter Gallagher

Two stars

Review by: Julian Wright

The vacuous nature of the Step Up franchise – or any other dance film for that matter – is often excused because, lets face it, no one goes to see these movies for clever scripting, powerhouse performances or imaginative direction. The core audience just wants to see some hot bodies get down and shake their booties on the dance floor. But it is becoming increasingly harder with each release to let these laboriously clichéd films slide based on their energetic choreography. OK, maybe audiences aren’t expecting Oscar-worthy film making, but can they not at least be privileged an interesting story and dialogue that doesn’t make you choke on your popcorn with bouts of the giggles? According to Step Up: Miami Heat (or Step Up Revolution, depending on what country you see it in), no.

Without even bothering to link this part four to the Step Ups gone by (except for a few token cameos at the end – sorry, ladies, Channing Tatum was too busy getting his kit off in Magic Mike), we get right into the action with a flash mob called The Mob (oh yeah, Step Up 4 is all about originality) closing down a busy Miami road for a spot of dance art. This miraculously doesn’t bother any of the dozens of motorists whose trips have been stalled  – even when these delinquently behaved twenty-somethings start using their vehicles as dance floors.

Mob leader Sean (Ryan Guzman) is keen to lead his crew to wining an internet competition – the dance group with the most hits on their videos wins. So they go about disrupting art exhibitions, restaurants and office buildings in their journey to victory. While these are arresting sequences of colour and provocative moves that take the dancing to a level not previously seen in other similar films, the elaborate nature borders on the ridiculous.

Side stepping minor details like where the crew get the money for the costumes or time to rehearse and how they manage to avoid the authorities every single time, the story gets right into the central drama that drives the, erm, plot. Big bad business man Mr Anderson (Peter Gallagher) wants to tear down an old, established neighborhood, where members of The Mob live, in order to erect a multimillion dollar hotel. What Global Financial Crisis? The only way to stop this development from happening is to (I’m not even kidding) protest dance. Now, why didn’t the residents featured in the documentary Battle for Brooklyn think of that?

Wouldn’t you know it, Sean gets cosy with sweetie pie Emily (Kathryn McCormack) who has just moved to town to pursue her dream of being a professional dancer. But, oh no you guys, she is Mr Anderson’s daughter. Conflicts of interest can be so hard. What are they gonna do?!

This film includes all the pre-requisites for this sub genre and it is sure to be a money-maker like all the others. The elaborate choreography, the barely there plot that vaguely links the dance numbers together and the attractive cast, whose posters will more than likely end up on some teens walls. But getting through these elements is becoming a chore. Do we really have to suffer through so much mush to be able to enjoy the dancing? If there is another installment in this franchise, hopefully the film makers decide to step up the content.

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