Movie Review: Step Up All In

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Rival dance crews audition for a chance to have a show in Vegas, which reignites old rivalries and kindles a new romantic flame.

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Trish Sie, 2014

Six months after moving to LA to make a go at becoming famous, hip-hop dance crew The Mob are feeling defeated. Struggling to pay their rents while going to humiliating auditions, most of them decide to follow Eddy (Misha Gabriel) back home, instead of sticking it out with their leader and our hero Sean (Ryan Guzman). Not long after, Sean discovers the Vortex competition in Vegas, and enlists the help of old friend, engineer and dancer Moose (Adam G. Sevani), to help him put together a new crew for the show. Bringing back dancers from previous instalments, the pair form a new crew with a science fiction theme, who they name LMNtrix (pronounced “elementrix”. Get it?), to take to the Vortex. Along the way, Sean develops a combative, flirty relationship with the now-single Andie (Briana Evigan, from the Step Up series’ second film), and discovers that everything is not as it seems while dance battling against his old crew and mutual rivals.

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As I’m sure you’re all aware, nobody goes to see a Step Up movie for the plot. This is probably a good thing, as the plot of this movie is so thin that if it turned sideways it would disappear. Nobody goes to see a Step Up movie for the acting, either. I’d say this is also a positive, as this film’s lead, Ryan Guzman, seems to equate “emoting” with a single facial expression that looks something like mild constipation. Female lead Briana Evigan has slightly more range, with the ability to rasp at different volumes and a difference between her “happy” and “unhappy” acting. There are some half-decent actors in the supporting cast, including the series’ secret weapon Adam Sevani, who has played Moose in all five films and whose story arc is vastly superior to each individual instalment’s plot in that it’s actually interesting. The conflict between being creative and having a stable life with his long-time girlfriend is intriguing and identifiable. The script is riddled with cliches and incredibly poorly-written lines, and the direction gives far too many reaction shots to the wooden-faced Guzman. It’s not until the dance scenes that everything comes together.

And this comes to the crux of the matter. I’ve seen every single Step Up movie for one reason: the dancing. While it doesn’t match the heights of some of the previous films, All In doesn’t disappoint on the dancing front. The video submitted by LMNtrix to enter the Vortex competition is fabulous, a kind of scifi horror video with a mad scientist’s experiments dancing together in a crazy lab. There’s also a charming duet between Evigan and Guzman that shows why they were cast. The supporting cast boasts some of hip-hop’s best dancer, including genius choreographer Christopher Scott and So You Think You Can Dance alumni by the dozen (the most famous of which is probably Stephen “Twitch” Boss, a terrific dancer). We get to see the individual styles of each of these dancers, which can all be unique and different while working seemlessly together in a battle. The dance scenes are infused with an energy and sense of joy that is totally absent from the rest of the movie; it’s not until these performers get on the dance floor that they actually become interesting, dynamic characters, and it’s a shame that better movies don’t showcase dance as well as movies like this.

Step Up All In on IMDb

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