Published Jul 26, 2012A cursory glance through the credits of Step Up: Revolution reveals a number of laughable pop culture figures and signifiers. The director is Scott Speer (who's better known for dating Ashley Tisdale than his career in music videos), the female lead (Kathryn McCormick) and the dance choreographer (Travis Wall) are veterans of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance, and the cinematographer has decided go though life by the professional name "Crash."
But films about dance have found their ideal medium in stereoscopic photography, the technological process more commonly known as "3D." It has been recognized in both high art (Wim Wender's Pina) and low (um, Step Up 3D) that 3D allows the spectator to grasp the spatial depth of a complex dance routine without the perspective restrictions of live theatre.
A nifty number in which chameleonic dancers blend in with the two-dimensional paintings of an art museum make these qualities obvious, as does the obscenely elaborate final dance sequence, which is set against, as well as on top of, a number of improbably stacked shipping containers.
Step Up: Revolution can't in good conscience be recommended. The story is pure formula, the dialogue is bad, the acting is worse (with the exception of Peter Gallagher as the hotel baron) and the impressive dance numbers are accompanied by a soundtrack chock full of terrible, thumping dubstep.
The film also pays lip service to "the recession," following "the Mob," a group of under-and-unemployed dancers who perform their elaborate numbers in public, flash mob style, in an effort to win a YouTube contest, eventually using their notoriety to protest a hotel development on their home turf in the rougher areas of Miami.
But unlike the recent Magic Mike, which injected an unexpected amount of social realism into its tale of Floridian male stripping, being a pretty young thing in this film is the rule, not the exception, and purchasing several thousand dollars worth of matching tailored suits for a one-time-only dance number is done without question.
That said, the dance numbers are a pleasure to watch. 3D technology favours kinetic spectacles like those found in the Step Up films far more than big-budget action films like Prometheus or The Avengers.
When one looks at the strongly choreographed and thoughtfully photographed climactic storage unit dance-off, it becomes apparent that, on a fraction of the budget, a great deal more care and passion went into this little throwaway cash-grab of a film than the latest meandering Adam Sandler joint. (eOne)