Written by Ankit Ojha
What to Expect
So what’s one of the biggest problems with dance movies? The fact that apart from having some absolutely rad camerawork and explosively detailed set-pieces full of superb choreography, there’s very little to offer in terms of story or emotional depth. As a highly popular dance-musical franchise, step Up has successfully proven to the viewers that as long as it’s out to achieve what it achieves, nobody would give a single damn to the storyline or the performances of the film. Who cares anyway? Well, in the case of this writer, who’s watched all of the previous films in the said franchise, there are a few flying you-know-whats actually given about the film.
But let’s have a recap before we begin. The first instalment – starring the now popular Channing Tatum – gave way to the second and third, with dance moves that would generate successively higher doses of excitement and simultaneously make the makers stop caring about the threadbare plot in the following films – considering the first one did so well anyway. But that seems to be the point of these films anyway – to invite viewers to watch the exuberance and the art of dancing on the big screen. The latest gimmick though has been to give the films the additional support of 3D. Again, that unfortunately doesn’t say much for the film – considering the 3D used is its seeming crutch.
Post Step Up 3D however, the consecutive movies haven’t been generating the kind of emotional response that the choreography in such movies are ordinarily supposed to give. That – predictably enough – includes this film too.
What’s it About?
With the dwindling success of “The Mob” and Sean’s issues with his breakup, the group has a fallout and Sean’s left alone in L. A. He takes up a handyman’s job at a dance centre, thanks to Moose (Adam Sevani) – but looks for more, which he finally finds in the biggest dance reality show of all time – The Vortex. Sean and Moose thus get together, bringing in a whole set of people from the lives Moose has lived through the previous films.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Leaving the 3D aside for a moment, one of the most intelligent gimmicks the makers seemed to have pulled off here is the revisitation of characters from older movies to enter this universe – apart from Step Up regular Moose of course. The direction works in the sense that people really pay for the ticket of the film to watch some of this year’s biggest dance moves. The writing is lazy and non-descript to say the least.
Of course, the makers leave no stone unturned to ensure that the technical prowess is extraordinary. The film boasts of very strong camerawork that ensures that the choreography superbly complements the pace through the visual movement through the frames. The edit is functional where story elements are concerned, but the editing chops are shown through the segments of breathtaking choreography. The addition of just the right music is brilliant. 3D rendering of the film isn’t half as impressive as its previous counterpart Step Up 3D. Besides the camerawork and the edit, what additionally makes the dance set-pieces pop are the varied colorful set-designs that adorn the frames. Those are just fantastic.
To Perform or Not to Perform
Where performances go, the film has practicality nothing and nowhere to go. Ryan Guzman and Briana Evigan portray their characters functionally, but their moves are most certainly impressive. Adam Sevani is fortunately more than just functional and delivers his part with confidence – but that’s not surprising, considering we’ve all been seeing him since Step Up 2: The Streets. Alyson “Whatchs-Doin’” Stoner (Phineas and Ferb) is another decent presence to look at, considering she has decent performance chops. The rest of the cast have an amazing handle over their body when they move – and when they dance, you’ll most definitely be impressed – but they can’t seem to act. It may be the direction or the cast themselves, but there’s something seriously off with the rest of the people – and that also includes the super-attractive Izabella Miko.
Overall, the movie achieves the kind of bigger-and-better adage it aims for with its choreographed set-pieces, production design and camerawork – but the problem here is one doesn’t get to, for the lack of being able to say anything less subtle here, feel the thump. The first three movies could most definitely be forgiven for the fact that their dances are electrifying and visually pop through the screen, 3D or not. The last two, unfortunately, can’t give one the exact emotion the former could provide. Die hard dance enthusiasts will not care though, making this film a big-ticket to yet another box-office success story.
For a viewer that expects nothing but solid, electrifying dances from such films, I was disappointed.
Star Rating: 2 / 5
PS: The hardcore dance enthusiasts would disagree with the rating. For them, the movie should be a solid 3.5 / 5. Now the very effective thing would be to identify who exactly you are before grabbing that ticket.