Monday, August 11, 2014

Step Up Retrospective: Step Up - All In (2014)

Step up: All in
Director:  Trish Sie
Starring:  Adam G Sevani, Alyson Stoner, Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Misha Gabriel Hamilton, Stephen Stevo Jones, Mari Koda, Chadd Smith, Izabella Miko
Rated: PG-13

This is ridiculous.

STEP UP ISSSSSS BACK!  All In brings back the fun and craziness we all loved about Step Up 3D and gets the series back on track after that drab fourth installment.  I was worried going in about the return of Sean and Eddy, but this film makes them work like no other.  Their dancing is better too.  It was my first experience with one of these films in the theater and I have to say...I think this series SHOULD be seen on the big screen and 3D.  It really enhances things like I didn't think would be possible.  This new Step Up gathers what they can of the previous installments and goes running wild.
Rest assured, while she's pretty much a first timer, Trish Sie channels her inner Jon M Chu and captures dancing much to the detriment of respect for it.  She also seems to know how to get the best out of her performers.  Maybe its the separation of the Mob from Ryan Guzman, but he's a much much better performer here than he was in the previous one.  With better people around him, he seems to get it and have more fun this time around.  The rest of the returning folks for 4 are pretty minimal and relegated mostly to dancing, which is an improvement on them going more for physically impressive dances than raunchy ones.  Eddy totally makes up for him in the entire last film with one beer bottle dance in the opening.
Speaking of the opening, we are treated to possibly the best bar/club opening dance battle in the entire series to start off.  The Mob Vs The Grimm Knights.  Its a crazy display of fun and wowing dance moves that keep pushing the ante with each performer that 'steps up' to bat.  There was really enough satisfaction in this one dance-off to cover the rest of the movie.  But, the film doesn't just stop there.  They do plenty of fun dances with varying styles and themes.  There's a classic monsters themed dance toward the beginning of act 2 that won me over pretty well.  We also get another attempt at the "I Won't Dance" type number later in the film set to Bobby Brown's "Every Little Step" that was pretty cute.  This movie really got what made Step Up 3D work and was able to recreate that magic and produce some impressive feats of its own.  I wanna also say that of all the Step Up movies, I didn't feel so old and out of touch with the music in it as many of the songs were familiar to me.
Of all the Step Up movies, this one probably has the strongest and best plot of them all.  Its not as much a crazy dance-fest like 3D, as there's a lot more inbetween scenes in this film.  However, the plot focused scenes are actually working this time and the character interactions going on are highly enjoyable.  There's a set of stakes at hand and this movie does its best to invest you in them.  Its also not afraid to have fun with it and point out the ridiculousness of it too.  The film is actually smarter than you'd think it is with its approach to the inner workings and shameable truths of reality television.  Normally the plot-heavier Step Ups are the weakest, but this is the first time they've managed to find a great balance between dance and plot and actually make us care and follow with interest the story going on just as much as the dance sequences.
During the finale, a character gives a heartfelt speech before a big dance number that I couldn't help but feel it transcended what was going on in the film but moreso a note on the best this series has to offer.  This series has never been the winner of opening weekend at the box office or the critics.  But the people involved have managed to find their own successes with it.  And the series is never going to gun for that approval either.  Are some of the dance numbers completely real and feasible in their entirety?  No, but are they a blast and exciting to watch?  Hell yea.  And that's what matters most.  And at the end of the day, Step Up isn't looking for mass approval, its just looking to have a good time with you.  Step Up: All In is definitely that good time and maybe the franchise's best.

RATING:  4/5

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