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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

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The "Step Up" franchise returns with "Step Up Revolution," in theaters now.
The "Step Up" franchise returns with "Step Up Revolution," in theaters now.

Fourth "Step Up" is far from revolutionary

Despite being long past the stage where "straight to DVD" should have become standard protocol, the "Step Up" movie franchise has managed to release yet another sequel.

The fourth (yes, there are three others of these things) serves up the same tired fare as the previous installments: vapid romance, tedious conflict, against-all-odds happy ending.

Not content with simply being one more movie in the lineup, however, "Step Up Revolution" decided to really go for it, dumbing the premise down to its bare bones and throwing all complexities to the wind. The rebels.

This time around, "Step Up" has set its dancers against the colorful backdrop of Miami, where a hardworking dance crew of underdogs called The Mob have been using flash mob guerrilla marketing to earn fame and fortune in an online video contest. However, they're soon forced to refocus their work to help save their neighborhood from a group of big-business moguls intent on booting them out to make way for the latest development project.

"Step Up Revolution"'s action gets piloted along by a cast of largely no-name actors who emote with all the intensity of a Disney Channel feature. Their performances are bland at best, and laughably cliche at worst. Lead couple Sean and Emily (Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick) carry on with all the chemistry of two paper plates as they're puppeted around by the movie's insipid storyline and bare-minimum character development. Everyone else is merely cheap confetti, scattered around the movie en masse to distract the audience into thinking there's actually some kind of depth in its plot.

The writers phoned this one in hardcore, but I'm guessing no one was searching too hard for Oscar-worthy material. "Step Up Revolution" is a dance movie -- the focus is on the moves. And everything about the dance scenes carried this movie in a big, big way.

Each one was a visual spectacle that combined scenery, dazzling effects and absolutely stunning choreography in a presentation so flawless it makes the rest of the movie look even more lackluster. For all of its stumbles through the talking and acting parts, "Step Up Revolution" executed its most important task with precision.

Obviously, "Step Up Revolution" is not a thinking person's movie. It's literally all been done before, to the point where it feels at times like the movie is actually dancing on the grave of originality. The dance breaks are exquisite, but even they're not enough to save "Step Up Revolution" from its impending status as a write-off B flick. Taken all together, it's drivel, but anyone interested in seeing it probably couldn't care less.

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