Step Up 4: Miami Heat
This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 5th August 2012
Variously released with the subtitles Step Up 4, Revolution and Miami Heat, it leaves little to the imagination. This is indeed the fourth rendition of the dance movie franchise that rebooted the excitement delivered to teen audiences in the 80s by Fame, Footloose and Flashdance. It’s set in Miami, where it’s hot. And you bet there’ll be some revolution – because every dance movie needs its “cause”.
A springboard for young stars, the cast changes with each Step Up movie, here showcasing the dancing talents of Kathryn McCormick who – ta da! – made her feature film debut in the 2009 remake of Fame. But more likely to make the big splash is her co-star Ryan Guzman, a Calvin Klein model whose trajectory might follow that of Channing Tatum (who starred in the first, and far superior, Step Up movie).
Despite the change of players, however, the themes remain stubbornly derivative. A group of photogenic young people of non-specific employment and unwavering loyalty band together to use dance as a way to forge change. In Revolution the troupe stages flash-mob dance scenes around Miami, posting the clips on YouTube and vying to win a princely sum once they reach 10 million hits. The youths are, of course, operating vaguely outside the law (much is made of the risk of prison, though no police actually step up to stop the disruption). Boy meets girl – usually from the other side of the tracks – and despite Shakespearean barriers that make things only slightly tricky, love prevails.
Despite anticipating this MO, it’s still disappointing when said hero delivers a trite speech to his girl, rounding off with “Does that sound lame?” and you stifle a “Yes!”
All that remains then is to savour the dancing which is, as always, impressive and increasingly inventive. Further sequels (if you must) should dispense with story altogether and simply present a succession of expertly choreographed set pieces. That’s the only place their forte lies.