Step Up: Miami Heat
So we’re at 4 ‘Step Up’ films now? Unbeknownst to us unsuspecting movie folk, the original 2006 dance drama (and the fact that it can even be referred to as the original is shocking enough) has spawned its own series, dwindling in substance, but not style, over each respective sequel, and after the expected 3D tag of 2010’s Step Up 3, it didn’t really seem like there was anywhere left for these films to go. Step Up: Miami Heat (or ‘Step Up: Revolution’ as it’s being billed in the US) certainly adheres to that as this is an extreme case of been there, done that and in 3D no less. But to the films credit, it knows this. It doesn’t pretend to be ground breaking (unlike its characters who spiel countless times on ‘breaking the rules’) nor original, it’s the simplest of formulas (boy meets girl, they fall in love, girl’s dad doesn’t approve, there’s a crisis, all is solved by dance) helped along by the fact that these kids can really move.
Our pretty protagonists this time round are Emily (Kathryn McCormick) and Sean (Ryan Guzman). She’s fresh on the streets of Miami looking to bag a dance academy scholarship, he’s a local making ends meet as a waiter at one of the city’s hottest hotels. His true passion though is dance and along with an eclectic group of fellow movers and shakers, he’s created a group known as ‘The Mob’, who are making waves thanks to their very public performance pieces that go above and beyond a typical ‘flash mob’ routine.
Although these scenes are very much for the benefit of the audience, with the 3D technology utilised well enough to be enjoyed but still not necessary, they are set up so that we learn the reason they are going to all this trouble is so they can get the most views on YouTube which in turn would secure them a $100,000 dollar prize. Whilst this would ordinarily be enough to sustain a dance film, Miami Heat opts to throw Emily further into the mix by having her father (Peter Gallagher) be the rich business man that’s threatening to tear down the small businesses and homes along the strip so he can build a luxury complex of sorts. Oh the melodrama of it all. What’s our mob to do?
While it’s far too easy to tear a film like this apart, it has to be said that when it’s offering up its share of finely tuned, well-choreographed dance sequences, it really is a spectacle. McCormick, a professional dancer who got her start on the US version of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, and Guzman make for decent enough leads given what they have to work with, but it’s quite evident that they weren’t hired for their acting skills. Their first encounter dancing together at a beach party is particularly sexy, and it helps that they are both easy on the eyes, almost too easy.
The effort that has gone into crafting the dance performances themselves is commendable, and it really is the only reason to see the film. One particular scene with The Mob overtaking a gallery and becoming moving pieces of art was quite invigorating to watch, though it does bring into question how a group so intent on winning $100,000 due to their class stature can afford all the bells and whistles of pulling off these elaborate stunts, but again if you’re thinking too much, you’re seeing the wrong movie.
If you’ve liked the previous ‘Step Up’ films there’s no reason you won’t enjoy this one, the 3D is bearable and the dance sequences truly entertain but it seems quite evident that the series, despite adding some ‘Miami Heat, has run out of steam.
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