********* 6 out of 10 *********
Director: Trish Sie
Actors: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Adam Sevani
Step Up came out in 2006, the film which is credited for being the breakout movie for future star Channing Tatum. We have five films in the series now, and even though the series did not unleash another Tatum, it is the only dancing movie series which has survived so long and has built a fanbase not only in North America but across the globe. So it deserves some credit for that. Each movie of this series is probably launched on the basis of the box-office collections of the previous one, and when 2012’s Step Up Revolutions did more than enough to be a hit, the fifth instalment was certain to be made. But while the original Step Up had a romantic story driving it forward with the dance elements adding colour to the storyline, the subsequent movies have worked less hard on the character arcs and focused more on “bringing the house down” with the dancing moves. Step Up: All In is not much different, as it makes a feeble attempt at a plot, which is as banal as any story can be, though when the guys and the gals do get dancing, everything else is forgiven!
With Step Up: All In, the creators have brought together many of the stars of the franchise seen post the first movie, and that itself should give a big kick to the fans. The movie begins with “The Mob” of the previous instalment led by Sean (Ryan Guzman) facing a tough time to earn a living as a dancing crew. Frustrated with their spate of failures, the members of the crew head back to Miami though Sean stays in Los Angeles and moves in with his old pal Moose (Adam Sevani). Soon Sean ropes in Moose to put together a crew to compete in a dance competition in Las Vegas, and they first get Andie (Briana Evigan) before bringing back a lot of the old characters. And off they go, trying to win a tough dance competition while at the same time, learning a bit more about friendship and love and trust.
Director Trish Sie and writer John Swetnam are new to the franchise but they do continue this series in the direction it was already headed from the second instalment. They put together a story which comes across as an excuse for people to dance; at one point, even one of the characters is asking if they can’t solve things without a dance face-off. There isn’t much in terms of building strong characters, nor in terms of chemistry within the group (whenever they aren’t dancing). The story is plain and simple, the conclusion to the tale known the moment it begins; any kind of disputes and complexities between the characters are set right soon, for that is how easy things are.
The story as I said earlier, is just an excuse to get the actors to dance. So the dancing better be good, right? And oh boy, can they dance! It’s a delight to see the bodies of the actors move with such fluidity, with such grace, with such passion. Hip-hop takes over everything, as dance breaks through the tepid storyline and asserts itself with authority. The choreography as well as the synchronization are excellent as the stars of the show really let their dancing do the talking. The dance at the finale is especially jaw-dropping, and with the backdrop of Vegas, it appears all the more sparkling. By the end of it, you wouldn’t really mind another Step Up film as long as they do not compromise on their “moves”.
Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan and Adam Sevani are the main lead characters in the film, though if you are a franchise fan, then there would be many more actors here to root for. Guzman and Evigan make for a cute couple, though there is nothing much scintillating about their chemistry until they start dancing together, especially one combined performance they give on a big spinning wheel which can really cheer you up if you are having a bad day. Saveni returns as Moose for the fourth time in this franchise and by now is a veteran of the series; as always, he is charming, and easy on the eyes with his acting and dancing, both. The rest of the crew do their bit, but no one here is winning any awards for their acting, though their dancing is another matter altogether.
Step Up: All In has a lot of entertaining dancing moments to make up for everything else. The only reason you should enter the theatre is if such form of dancing can give you any joy. On that front, the Step Up movies continue to live upto their promise. Whether a sixth instalment will follow or not, is not known yet. So this may be the best time to catch up with this movie, just in case it turns out to be the last.