out of Five
Running time: 97
Enjoyable fourth instalment of the popular franchise that succeeds thanks to stunning dance sequences, appealing leads and a script that actually has something to say (relatively speaking), though the film is a little over-reliant on the usual clichés.
What's it all about?
Directed by Scott Speer, Step Up 4: Miami Heat (which ditched its more provocative original title of Step Up Revolution) is the fourth instalment in the popular franchise and stars Ryan Guzman as Sean, the leader of an underground Miami dance crew called The Mob, who stage elaborate flashmob-style performances in various surprise venues in the hopes of winning a YouTube competition and turning professional.
However, things get complicated when Sean falls for beautiful dancer Emily (Kathryn McCormick) and she turns out to be the daughter of property tycoon Anderson (Peter Gallagher), who plans to tear down the crew's characterful beachside neighbourhood and build a luxury resort complex.
When Emily asks Sean if she can join the crew, he decides to keep her identity a secret from the other members, with predictable results.
Meanwhile, Emily is attempting to win a place in a prestigious dance school and asks Sean to help her come up with an inventive routine that will help with her audition.
Guzman and McCormick have strong chemistry together, especially when they're dancing, and make appealing, likeable leads. Peter Gallagher adds a welcome touch of class as Anderson and there's strong support from Misha Gabriel Hamilton as Sean's best friend Eddy, though none of the other characters really get a chance to register, despite their captioned introductions at the beginning.
Obviously, a Step Up fourquel is going to stand or fall on the quality of its dance performances and in that respect, Step Up 4 delivers the goods with a series of imaginatively staged, exciting performances that, crucially, include some things we haven't seen before (watch out for a fantastic bit involving a trampoline at the end). Similarly, the script at least pretends to be about something, adding an element of political protest and an actual purpose to the routines.
The main problem is that the dialogue is largely bland throughout, while you can play an amusing game of ticking off the usual dance movie clichés; thankfully they ditch the one about the clashing dance contests and you can also clearly see they've cut out the one with the love rival, but all the others are present and correct. On top of that, the 3D effects fail to really enhance the film and it will work just as well in 2D. It also loses points for a cameo at the end by Step Up 2 and 3's Moose (Adam Sevani), who's only in it for less than a minute but still manages to be incredibly annoying.
Despite the abundance of clichés, Step Up 4 is a lot of fun and will appeal to fans of the franchise. Worth seeing.
Step Up 4: Miami Heat 3D (PG)