Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Moview Review: Step Up 4 Revolution! (PG13 - 99 minutes)

I do love a cheesy dance movie.
I have always loved dance, but since I began performing bellydance professionally as a part of Tamarind Tribal Bellydance (http://www.tamarindtribalbellydance.com), my love and appreciation for all styles of dance has really increased.  I have always loved ballroom - and thus love Dancing with the Stars.  I really enjoy So You Think You Can Dance as well - and I believe the talent on that show has really increased each season it continues, and I'm thrilled that it is getting younger kids interested in dance as an activity and art form.  Alums from SYTYCD consistently appear in the Step Up movies, as the movies progress more towards "less plot - more highly choreographed group dance numbers", which I will never argue with. 
The first Step Up, from 2006, started as an actual movie, with a plot and everything.  Bad boy Tyler, from the wrong side of the tracks, is only interested in hanging out and hip hop dancing with his friends.  He gets sentenced to community service at the ultra-elite Maryland School of the Arts after committing vandalism.  While there, he meets prissy ballerina Nora, whose partner for her upcoming dance has just gotten injured.  She sees Tyler dancing with his friends and asks him to help her rehearse.  Sparks fly, hijinks ensue, and after some drama (drama?  in a cheesy dance movie?  of course!), they realize they complete each other, on and off the dance floor.
It was Channing Tatum's first major role, and after filming the movie, he married his costar, Jenna Dewan.  Sparks really did fly, I guess, and they really do complete each other!
This led to the inevitable Step Up 2: The Streets! in 2008.  Tatum shows up briefly at the beginning of the movie to inspire his neighboorhood friend Andie, who is aimlessly floating through life, to try out for the Maryland School for the Arts, since it had such a positive effect on his life.  Andie would rather dance with her 'street' dance crew.
This movie shows the shift towards more group choreographed dance sequences and also introduces what I would describe as the face of the Step Up franchise - Adam G. Sevani as "Moose".  He's the best danciest nerd ever.  This movie reflects the popularity of dance shows, as SYTYCD alums start to show up, as well as some crews from America's Best Dance Crew - most notably the Jabbawockeez.
Step Up 3D came out in 2010, and was the first one with no Tatum, as well as the first one in 3D.  Moose graduates high school and attempts to 'grow-up' by going to college in New York.  Andie is there too, but I'm less sure why.  He promptly runs into some battling street dance crews (of course, why wouldn't he?) and through the course of the movie - realizes that he can both grow up, and live his love of dance.
This movie reunites Sevani with his costar of many years, Alyson Stoner (she's the little dancer from the Missy Elliot video), they had done a Disney dance show and several commercials together.  There's a plot with Andie and the male lead battling another crew, but really who cares?  This one has some amazing dancing and even more SYTYCD alums - including Stephen tWitch Boss - who is fantastic, as well as LXD's Madd Chadd - or, you know, the robot guy, and Joshua from SYTYCD, or you know, the dude who beat tWitch (yes, I know that looks crazy, but that's how he writes it, so I'll honor it).

That brings us right up to Step Up Revolution!  Or, Step Up 4. 
Starring SYTYCD comtemporary dancer Kathryn McCormick (she finished 3rd in season 6, and came back as an 'all star' for season 7), and hip hop dancer Ryan Guzman as the pretty rich girl and streetwise dancer with a heart of gold respectively, this one has a little plot - but even more great dance sequences set against the really colorful background of Miami.  McCormick plays Emily, Peter Gallagher's daughter (how did they get him in this movie?), who wants to join the very prestigious Winwood Contemporary dance company.  She gets the audition, but is encouraged by the owner (choreographer Mia Michaels in a fun cameo) to 'feel' the dance more.  She falls for Sean (Guzman), a waiter at a hotel her dad owns.  He is part of "the Mob", a group of street performing flash-mob dancers that are attempting to break a YouTube hit contest to win some money.  They begin dancing together (familar, yes?) when her father's new development begins to threaten the 'slum' where the dancers live.  She helps the Mob turn their "performance art" into "protest art", gets found out for who she is, drama ensues, then more dancing, then happy resolution.  Oooh, sorry, spoiler alert, the movie has a happy ending!
Directed by Scott Speer - his first entrance into the series (1 was by Anne Fletcher who had also done The Proposal, and 27 Dresses - probably why that one feels different from the others and a little more rom-com-y.  2 and 3 were by Jon M. Chu, music video and LXD video veteran, probably why those feel more music-videoy), the movie spends some time on the plot, but more time on the dancing, which is what anyone going to this movie is looking for anyway.  The cast is okay, they are casting dancers instead of actors, so the acting is very average.  But, smart move hiring dancers!
  • McCormick is an amazing dancer, and will proabably become a decent actress.  She's passable here.
  • Guzman is a younger Channing Tatum, but again, Tatum has really stepped up (pun intended) his acting game of late, so maybe Guzman has some interesting things in the future.
  • tWitch is back - with an expanded role this time around, and also to tie this movie in some small way to the previous one.  I love watching him dance, he was one of my favorites on SYTYCD (he finished 2nd in season 4, and has been back multiple times as an 'all star'.
  • Misha Gabriel plays Sean's best friend and Mob co-founder.  Gabriel has been dancing since the age of 2, and has been a backup dancer for both Janet and Michael Jackson.
  • Cleopatra Coleman plays Penelope, the group's DJ.
  • Megan Boone plays Claire, Sean's sister, who is there to have the important, "you should grow up and get a real job" attitude that someone in these movies has to have.
  • Phillip Chbeeb, who is another SYTYCD alum (season 5), is in the movie and has some great sequences that show off his unique style.
  • I hope I'm not spoiling anything here either, but Sevani's Moose does cameo at the end, as well as Madd Chadd's robot dancer. 

The movie is ridiculous, completely over the top, and unrealistic.  For one, the Mob kids live in the nicest "slum" I've ever seen.  Also, for a ragtag group of street dancers, their performances are unbelievably well choreographed and organized (incidentally, the choreography in the movie includes work by Jamal Sims, Christopher Scott, Chuck Maldonado, and Travis Wall - all names you know if you watch SYTYCD).  Where are they getting the money for practice space, tech, and costumes, if they are so desperate to win this YouTube contest to win money?  Who knows, it's probably best not to ask too many questions.  Just go - see it in 3D, enjoy...just don't expect too much!
6 out of 10.  Gained points for Moose showing up - I love that kid!  Lost points for the whole, "this is our tech guy, this is our DJ, this is our Hacker, these are our Parkour guys" speech...yes, but which one is your tailor, and which one is the money?  Gained points for the bungee cord dancing - it's going to be tougher and tougher to come up with unique sequences for these movies...I liked this one a lot!  Lost points for Mia Michaels seeming to be high.  Although, every time I see her, she seems to be high, so maybe that's not a surprise...
Bonus Video 1:  Kathryn McCormick's piece with Legacy from season 6 - choreographed by Stacey Tookie

Bonus Videos 2:  tWitch and Katee - the door number, by Mia Michaels, I think.
tWitch and Sasha - the breakfast table number, by Christopher Scott.

Bonus Video 3:  Jabbawockeez - my favorite crew. Who knew you could have a favorite dance crew?  If you haven't seen their Vegas show, see it the next time you're in Vegas.
Bonus Video 4: Cast Interviews!

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