Step Up 4: Miami Heat 3D
Directed by Scott Speer. Starring Kathryn McCormick, Ryan Guzman, Peter Gallagher PG cert, general release, 97 min
HEIRESS BABE Emily (So You Think You Can Dance’s Kathryn McCormick, apparently) arrives in Miami hoping for a shot at Mia Michaels’s dance company.
So many questions. Will Emily’s classic style prove a good romantic fit with local six-pack Sean (mixed- martial arts champ Ryan Guzman)? Can a streetwise guy make it work with an uptown girl? Will Sean’s flash mob – how 2010! – get enough hits on YouTube(?) to topple evil property developer Peter Gallagher? How will the gang of misfits react when they learn that new recruit Emily is the civic overlord’s daughter? Can performance art finally triumph over capitalism?
Step Up 4: Miami Heat 3D was called Step Up: Revolution in the US, but was retitled for Europe, lest its call to arms and grassroots manifesto ignite the dry timbers of Greece and the other PIGS. No, wait. It’s because Miami Heat is copyrighted as the name of a football team in the US.
Let’s be fair. Step Up 4 is supposed to be generic and empty- headed. Where would the franchise be without act two romantic bust ups, megabucks dance offs and “let’s put on a show, people”? The familiarity of the tropes hasn’t mattered before.
The Step Up trilogy offered a triumvirate of delights and guilty pleasures. Here was eye candy to be proud of. In 2006, it introduced us to Channing Tatum and introduced him to his fabulous and hitherto criminally underused co-star Jenna Dewan, the real-life Mrs Tatum. Step Up 2 launched the charming Adam Sevani. Step Up 3D knew how to have fun with its chicanery and launched a riot of balloons, bubbles and Dayglo colours out of the frame. More importantly, the sequence put dance back into dance films at a moment when the fine art of Hollywood hoofing had been all but lost to fast cuts and stunt feet.
Returning choreographer Jamal Sims animates the frequently flat Step Up 4 with aplomb, and cinematographer Karsten Gopinath knows how to frame a crowd. Series veterans may require handkerchiefs for cameos from returning Step Uppers Moose, Camille, Cable and Jason.
Still, one can’t help but feel that if the franchise hasn’t jumped the shark it’s certainly stepping over a finned killer fish with abandon. Damn. We’ve been served.