STEP UP: REVOLUTION
Directed by Scott Speer
Written by Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot, Erik Feig, and Patrick Wachsberger
Starring: Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Adam Sevani, and Peter Gallagher
Synopsis: An inspiring dancer gets involved with a local hip hop group to help them save their land from being bought by a big business man.
Warning: There are some minor spoilers through this review. However, if you've seen movies then this movie is not spoilable at all. Tread lightly
Jonesy: I want to start by saying that other than THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, this was my most anticipated movie of the summer. And that's because I'm a huge dance nerd. I watch So You Think You Can Dance, and I knew a lot of the dancers from previous seasons were going to be in this movie. So I was insanely excited, and then I saw it... and I was so disappointed.
Javi: My co workers thought that I was joking when I said that I love this franchise, but I'm really not.
Jonesy: Yeah, my brother thought I was joking too.
Javi: But I really love it. It's kind of like when I've seen the random Fred Astaire movie in the AFI countdown. Since I can't really dance, it just interests the hell out of me. Plus, there's Moose! This was my third most anticipated movie of the summer behind GI JOE: RETALIATION and THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Let's start off with the good stuff like the dancing.
Jonesy: The dancing is the strongest part of the movie. They actually found a way to make the dancing with each subsequent movie more creative. They're so damn unique and entertaining. What I enjoyed more was there were more than just variations of hip hop dancing. The main girl, Emily, is trying to get into a contemporary dance company, so there were the random bits of contemporary dance thrown in. It was great to see. Probably my favorite dance was the "business" one.
Javi: For me, the museum one was very visually interesting, but the dancing wasn't that great; they just had a whole lot of effects. The ballerina dancers were just there moving their arms, but the look of it was so cool. I really agree with you about incorporating different varieties of dancing.
Jonesy: To compare it to music, hip hop is the main dance genre, and then you have sub-genres like b-boy, stepping, tutting, and popping.
Javi: So what'd you think of the 3D? I thought that it was just fine; it wasn't as "IN YOUR FACE" as the one from STEP UP: 3D, but this 3D was more in trying to add depth to the scenes.
Jonesy: The weird thing with the last two movies was that the 3D was almost too clear and the dancers felt detached from the set.
Javi: Kind of like Robot Man was in the last movie?
Jonesy: Yeah, it's almost like when you're watching something in HD and you adjust the frame rate and just looks totally odd.
Javi: From the very beginning when they introduce Emily, the 3D in those dances didn't feel well incorporated. They just seemed to throw crap at the screen, whereas in the later dances, there's more of a classy use of it. Alright now, let's talk about the bad stuff, like the characters and the story.
Jonesy: So you have the cute broke waiter, Sean, who just wants to dance and touch random girls he meets. Then you have the rich daddy's girl that just wants to dance, but her Dad wants her to do something else like soul sucking business stuff.
Javi: Now, I might be a misogynist, as one is, but I kind of hated Emily. She had no reason to have conflict. She was kind of a bitch. She had a stereotypical story of, "Oh no, Daddy won't let me do what I want like dancing, except I don't actually want to work for it and not mooch off of you, so I'll just bitch during the whole movie." She never tries to be independent of her dad.
Jonesy: And the only time she tries to do that, it's only really her being defiant. I think that the whole "conflict" is that her and her dad are supposed to be close, and she doesn't want him to find out that she's with The Mob. But if they are close, then why wouldn't the dad support her? I never once felt sorry for her.
Javi: Then Sean, to me he is...there's a certain type of things that you're not supposed to mess around with when you're dealing with bros. Like the way that he lies to his goofy best friend character friend. What else does he do that sucks? I know there's a lot...
Jonesy: Well apparently, he has the best waiter job where he just gets to get off at a decent time, so he can go clubbing and can help run a warehouse for your dancing activities.
Javi: These characters are not likable at all. I get that complaining about the story in a STEP UP movie is like complaining about the lack of say, good female characters in a Michael Bay movie, but dammit this is our review. The other two movies are pretty good movies even though they keep on becoming more and more "pro-dancing" and "anti-story". But the thing is that STEP UP 2: THE STREETS and 3D were really good in their own right and this movie just wasn't. The main characters keep on getting less and less likable. THE STREETS is my favorite mostly because of Moose.
Jonesy: Yeah, as the series goes on, then the more generic that the characters get and the less you end up caring about them.
Javi: The Mob has no personality at all because you never really get to know any of them. Who the hell are they?
Jonesy: Let's talk about their whole point of the movie. They keep on insisting how they really want to "speak up" and be heard, but for what purpose? Obviously, they end up having a purpose later on but in the beginning, it doesn't make sense.
Javi: Their initial purpose is to get YouTube hits and money, I guess?
Jonesy: But money for what? It's not like they have to win the YouTube money to save their neighborhood.
Javi: So let's go ahead and talk about the story because I need to get stuff off my chest.
Jonesy: I liked the concept of the whole "protest art" idea. That could have been an interesting exploration of using dance and art to grab people's attention and make a statement. That's such a neat idea. In execution, it was not good.
Javi: I wanted to put a spoiler alert but if you've ever seen a movie, you know how this movie turns out. I'm sorry, but you want to talk about weird messed up political and moral views, don't talk about THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Let's talk about this movie. First of all, I find it really interesting that this community at risk only had dancing and apparently YouTube videos to try to save their neighborhood. How are we supposed to care if these people are just being totally lazy about trying to save their own houses? You're saying that they couldn't fill out petitions and go to the city council meetings to have their own voices heard? In addition, during the whole end dance sequence I never saw a "political" message during it.
Jonesy: If anything it felt like, "We know this final dance isn't going to matter, but we just want to celebrate this area and its culture."
Javi: To go along those lines, if we're going to be talking about Miami as a whole, I'm a little annoyed at the fact that they're portraying Miami as 90% white. Just by geography alone, you know that Miami has a higher Latino population, and yet the only people to represent that huge part of the city is stereotypical, Spanglish speaking bar owner, and a quiet tattooed guy. Not only do they do this, but then of course, you have a generic white dude protagonist, who by the way, is probably one of the most boring dancers in the whole crew. Seriously, what kind of "Hollywood" version of Miami is this?
Jonesy: Well, don't you know that the only people that can fix any type of culture problems are white people? Haven't you learned this? From books and movies, like THE HELP? We created racism, and we have to solve it!
Javi: Oh thank you, generic white person!
Jonesy: I'm thinking that this is more of a "Hollywood" representation of Miami, kind of like how everyone thinks that because we live in Dallas, we all live in South Fork Ranch.
Javi: Yeah, I guess I was just disappointed because the only times you ever really see a city with a high concentration of a Latino population, you're only seeing it in L.A. where we're mostly all gangsters with the tank tops, shaved heads, and sad clown tattoos. There was also something that I needed someone to explain to me and that is how the hell these kids have so much money? So in STEP UP 3D, I was going to write a "Sam Strange" type of essay about how the movie is really about commenting on youth culture's lack of money management skills. For example, the Pirates crew had a sweet warehouse that you live in that has a nightclub underneath that somehow doesn't make any money (really?), and they have a different, very expensive outfits for every 15 minutes of the movie, a wall of sneakers, lots of music, computer equipment, and freaking wall made of boom boxes. The whole plot revolves around them trying to keep their club/dance studio which made it so damn unbelievable. This movie has all of them working jobs as waiters, where I find it hilarious because I'm pretty sure that the cost of living in Miami is a lot higher than say Dallas. Let's just assume that the whole Mob chips in to rent out their warehouse. I'm still not sure if the mathematics add up.
Jonesy: And then Sean lives with his sister, so he's probably a freeloader, which is kind of lame. And they all work at the hotel so you can make good money at resorts, but only if you work a lot. But they all get off at 8 or 9. And that's never happened to me in my life as server. Then, they all go out to party. the money was never a big issue except trying to get the YouTube money, but they never talk about why they need it. When their neighborhood is in trouble, they never offer to raise money or pitch in.
Javi: Not only that, but their dance stunts seem to be getting increasingly more expensive in the movie. Put it this way, during the business dance even if you buy cheapo $100 suits, there were at least 15 people, that's over a $1,500.
Jonesy: Plus their suitcases, the fake money, and then that crazy statue that they built. It's a really hot mess. At one point, I was so bored by the plot that I just wanted to get to the dancing.
Javi: A good aspect of the movie is that the soundtrack is pretty awesome this time around. There's no super catchy song this time around like "Low", but this one had a good overall soundtrack. Yeah, there was some lame poppy dubstep type stuff but it's decent.
Jonesy: I think that it's probably the best one in the series.
Javi: Especially when in the museum section, they play the European type of dub step where you hear the wubs but it's not as grating. Loved it. Anyway, let's talk about the "morality" of the movie. What was it really trying to say? To me there's a lot of weird contradictory ideas going on. Apparently, it's OK to mooch off your parents as shown off by Emily, even though she never tries to be independent of her dad and bitches about it the whole time. And then the community as a whole, it's OK for them to passive. It's an interesting commentary on the whole "passive activist"/online protester thing that has been popping up on the Internet. I like how they're supposed to be trying to be more pro-active but the only thing people do is that they post YouTube videos and that's it? It's like that whole Kony 2012 or "change your profile picture on facebook to end child abuse" movement that was so lame.
Jonesy: Well, yeah because it's just so easy to click on something and appear to be all cool and proactive without really doing anything. You almost had two movies going on the whole time. First it was Emily trying to fit in and be her own person, and then the plot of the evil corporation trying to build a new hotel. They should have tried to focus mostly on the whole hotel plot line more to make the movie seem more cohesive. It honestly felt like they were trying to do too much. Another minor complaint was that they really should have kept Moose being in the movie a secret. That would have made his reveal even more awesome.
Javi: I truly feel that this is the REVENGE OF THE FALLEN of the STEP UP series, it's all robot testicles and dog humping. Go see it drunk, go see it for the dancing, go see it for the 3D, but don't see it for the story. It honestly felt like they were trying to do too much.