Step Up 4: Miami Heat (2012)

Generating hits through a series of elaborate flash-mobs, waiter Sean (Ryan Guzman) and dance crew The Mob are well on their way to winning a YouTube competition (and the prize money that comes with it) when he meets Emily (Kathryn McCormick), an aspiring dancer looking to make it into a prestigious school. New to Miami, Emily’s real-estate tycoon father is looking to redevelop the group’s neighbourhood, leading them – at Emily’s suggestion – to turn their performances into a form of protest. With The Mob’s help, Sean and Emily set out to convince the city council to overturn the proposed plans and, in the process, win Emily a place on her course.

Ever since the Step Up franchise began back in 2006, somersaulting Channing Tatum into the A-list, multiplexes have played host to innumerable rip-offs and imitators looking to cash in on the series’ popularity. Despite the StreetDances and Honeys, however, Step Up has managed to stay ahead of the game through three sequels, delivering in terms of both box office receipts and genuine, no-holds-barred spectacle. While the story has stayed the same – Romeo shows Juliet how to really move – the showcase of stand-out performers and amazing choreography has been enough to keep audiences coming back for more. Even if this fourth instalment does rely on set pieces even more than usual.

It goes without saying that Step Up 4: Miami Heat is almost as predictable as they come, a short-lived rebellious streak doing little to camouflage the paper-thin story and blink-and-you’ll-miss it characterisation. You know from the very beginning that both dancers will have to set aside their differences in order to save their neighbourhood because that’s exactly what happened in just about every other dance movie ever made. It doesn’t help that the story’s anti-establishment message is mindlessly jettisoned in favour of a slightly more conservative finale, one that serves as an unfortunate reminder of just how shallow our protagonists actually are.

To make things worse, Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick are two of the weakest leads the franchise has yet had to offer, with the continued absence of Tatum (or even first sequel’s Briana Evigan) once again sorely felt. While both are animated enough during each dance number, such intermittent verve only serves to frame their lack of personality during the film’s few quieter scenes, as they fail to bring any depth to the roles of professional dance-mobber and angsty billionairess respectively. Nobody in the ensemble really stands out, with even The O.C.‘s Peter Gallagher (who also appeared in the similarly themed Burlesque) struggling to breathe any life into the film’s makeshift villain. Indeed, if it hadn’t been for the handful of returning players, lead by Adam G. Sevani’s Robert “Moose” Alexander III, I doubt the cast would have made any impression whatsoever.

So far so negative, but I really don’t mean to be. Character, plot and originality are of course all really important, and Step Up 4: Miami Heat is unlikely to receive any critical recognition at all, but this is summer, and sometimes there is more to cinema than smarts and subtext. This is a film for pleasure seekers, a peerless platform for performers whose talents admittedly lie beyond traditional acting. In a summer dominated by darkness and green screen, it’s refreshing to see a movie so comparatively care-free and which relies to admirably on practical effects. Whether climbing out of paintings, marching down escalators or jumping off of cargo crates, this is a movie which makes the most of the medium, duly popping eyes in 3D.

It all comes down to what you want from your movies. Step Up 4: Miami Heat has little depth, substance or personality to offer, its sole attempt at making a statement fizzling out by the end, but it’s so beautifully shot, so intricately choreographed and so undeniably impressive that that hardly even matters.

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About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

One Response to Step Up 4: Miami Heat (2012)

  1. Pingback: August 2012 – My shoe is bigger than this car! « popcornaddict

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