01st Dec2014

‘Step Up 5: All In’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Stephen “tWitch” Boss, Misha Gabriel, Izabella Miko, Alyson Stoner, Adam Sevani, Stephen ‘Stev-O’ Jones, David ‘Kid David’ Shreibman, Mari Koda, Christopher Scott, Luis ‘Luigi’ Rosado, Chadd Smith, Facundo Lombard, Martín Lombard, Cyrus ‘Glitch’ Spencer | Written by John Swetnam | Directed by Trish Sie

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Guilty Pleasure. It’s a term I dislike immensely. Why feel guilty about enjoying anything? If you like some, you like something, end of. Another reason I dislike the term guilty pleasure is because the term, at least in movie-related circles, has become synonymous with any movie that is hailed as worthy of critical discussion. Adam Sandler movies are guilty pleasures. The Fast & Furious franchise is (apparently) considered guilty pleasures by some. F that. I like Adam Sandler’s movies, I like the Fast & Furious movies (hell, I’d even go and say I love those!).

But what does that have to do with this review I hear you ask?

Well for the longest time I called the Step Up films my guilty pleasures. Not any more. I’m coming out of the proverbial “guilty pleasure” closet and saying that I like, nay LOVE, the Step Up movies. All five of them. Yes, I may spend most of my time watching and reviewing genre films filled with blood, gore and guts but I do love a good dance flick too!

Step Up 5: All In, the fifth entry in the long-running franchise (it has been 8 years since the first film after all), sees cast members from previous films – including Briana Evigan’s Andie, a personal fave of mine from Step Up 2; Sean (Ryan Guzman) from the previous movie: Miami Heat; and Adam Sevani’s Moose (a franchise stalwart since part 2) – all coming together as Miami street dancer, Sean Asa (Guzman), moves to Hollywood with visions of fame and fortune, only to discover the almost insurmountable odds of making it in the professional dance world.

But when the new dance crew he forms with the beautiful and headstrong Andie West (Evigan) reaches the final rounds of a high-stakes reality TV competition in glittering Las Vegas, he has a shot at finally making his dreams come true. But only if he can set aside old loyalties and long-time rivalries and just do what he loves most, dance.

You know what you’re getting when you sit down to watch a Step Up movie: some well-choreographed dancing, epic dance battles, slick moves, a definite wow factor and… a slightly contrived, often cliched underdog story. This time round the core emotional plot of the film follows a well-worn Step Up formula – dancer thinks he’s great, tries to win at all costs (including friendships), realises his mistake (with or without the help of his or her dance crew) and rectifies the situation and “wins” what usually is a moral, if not actual, victory. But that what I like about these movies, you know what you’re in for.

In the case of Step Up 5: All In, there’s nothing new in terms of story, the cast is GREAT – this round it’s particularly solid cast thanks to the “greatest hits” status of Sean’s dance crew – which means you can just sit back and be wowed by whatever dance moves the cast and crew throw on the screen. And boy are there some superb dance set-pieces in this film! None more so than the totally epic final showdown – which is undoubtedly the best dance sequence the franchise has ever scene. I thought the fantastic flash mob sequences in Step Up 4 were good but this takes it to a whole new level.

Of course whilst the plot may be familiar and the dance scenes amazing, the success of a film like Step Up 5: All In is not just down to the aforementioned. Like any movie the cast have to be likeable, to allow the audience to connect with their character so that they can go on this [dance] journey too. And that’s where this particular film succeeds in spades! Bringing back Briana Evigan was a genius idea, her portrayal of Andie still remains the stand out of the entire franchise; and it doesn’t hurt that Adam Sevani is back as Moose – he even gets to flesh out his character even more thanks to his “home life” and the relationships centered around that. The only thing this movie was missing was a really good villain… There have been some fantastically unlikeable bad guys in this franchise and, as a fan of all the Step Up movies, I don’t think Izabella Miko, and her lacky really ever cut it.

Who doesn’t love a good dance movie? I certainly do and Step Up 5: All In is most definitely a good dance movie! The film is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray now.

**** 4/5

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