Pretty Vacancy: Watching 4 Step Up Films (Nearly) Back-To-Back Part 2

step up 3d

And so, after a slightly longer break than expected, I’m back with these Step Up films. The hangover has, if anything, intensified, and I’d really rather be having a nap if I’m honest. But I’ve lost too much time already. I’m practically making a mockery of the term back-to-back as it is. So without further ado, let’s get on with the show (if you’ve not read Part 1 of this baffling enterprise, now might be the time to skip back a page).

16:24: Step Up 3D (2010)

16:25: I am not watching this film in 3D. Opens with a bunch of different dancers being interviewed about why dancing is important to them before fading through to a university campus. Looks like the continuing character for this film is…. Moose (Adam G Sevani). He was the one previously referred to as the lovechild of Jeff Goldblum and Simon Amstell. I would not have put money on that.

16:28: Staggering Nike product placement. Like sledgehammer subtle. In fact, its almost a plot point.

16:29: Dancing. That didn’t take long. This film seems brighter than the last two. Potentially the Tokyo Drift of the series…

16:30: Dancing with bubbles! And balloons! And pigeons! In fact, I’m guessing, pretty much anything that has the potential to zoom out at the screen in 3D. You can clearly see the effects of 3D filming on the shot selections here.

16:32: Disconcerting to see that this is the longest installment of the franchise. Apparently Sevani was ‘born from a boombox’. He doesn’t look like this is the case…

16:34: Sevani has been taken to some stranger’s ‘house of pirates’. Turns out it’s like the Batcave if it was a youth club. If all those dancers in GAP adverts were trapped in a reality TV show together, this is exactly where they’d live, secretly drowning in their own tears. So far though, this film is cleaving closest to my expectations for the series as a whole.

16:39: Dance stalking.

16:40: Woah, woah, woah, WOAH. Hold the phone. Is that Sharni Vinson?? *scrambles to imdb* It is! Friends/regular readers will know of my fondness for her in home invasion horror You’re Next. Some might even use the phrase “celebrity crush”. This changes EVERYTHING. In a completely superficial way, of course. Quite happy with this being the longest installment all of a sudden.

16:41: Men’s room dancing… Sevani is being danced at by, apparently, a walking speaker system. He waggles himself over the basins before taking things back out to the club floor so that some square-jawed pretty-boys can sass each other.

16:46: Vinson and Square-Jawed Pretty Boy #1 go roof hopping. I try to remain cynical while I get over the fact that SHARNI VINSON IS IN THIS.

16:47: Some twins have a display wall of… yup Nike shoes. Possibly all the Nike shoes.

16:49: If the creative team working at SugarApe magazine in TV’s Nathan Barley were dancers, they’d be these jerkoffs. More dancing. This time in montage.

16:53: Seriously. Does nobody in this film have a job????

16:56: I think I’m over my Sharni Vinson swoon-phase. In other news, random blocky text is flying at the screen. Cue… Dancing. Still not sure we have a plot yet. Did that guy just spit dust at the camera? If I was watching this in 3D I’m pretty sure I’d feel assaulted by now.

17:00: They’re still dancing. This one guy seems to have perfected the look of dancing like he’s a stop-motion character. Apparently that was a dance-off scene and the ‘Pirates’ won it. I was largely oblivious.

17:07: A scene especially contrived to allow a crushed-ice soft-drink to fly toward the camera while Square-Jawed Pretty-Boy #1 catches Vinson’s mouth with his mouth.

17:10: More flying text. Must be another dance battle. Pretty sure the plot this time is this: Everyone loves dancing.

17:12: Dancing. Now with added water sloshing everywhere but especially toward the camera.

17:13: I mean, where do they get the money for all the toys at their hipster base???? There has to be source of income here.

17:15: The temptation to nap is really high. Vinson may have inadvertently saved this entire enterprise. Right now she’s arguing with Square-Jawed Pretty-Boy #2. Everyone wants to win the World Jam. Everyone loves dancing and jam.

17:20: Ah, it turns out financial struggles have become a plot point. This would never have happened in the Fast And Furious franchise. In other news, Sevani’s Moose is really shit at school / being a friend / getting screen time, ultimately.

17:22 Dancing. Masked-ball style. Least they’re mixing it up. “I’ll bust the windows out your car” the song begins. Slightly undermines the element of class briefly evoked.

17:26: Ermahgerd. Vinson is the sister of Square-Jawed Pretty-Boy #2, which has made Square-Jawed Pretty-Boy #1 extra pouty. I can only anticipate his special flouncing dance in which he’ll probably kick Nike shoes at the camera in zero gravity so that his tears can fly out at us too. Only one thing can possibly happen now…

17:29: Introspective montage. Set to intrusively bellowing pop singer.

17:33: Dancing. To music coming from an ice cream van. Obviously. Actually it’s turned into something of a charming Technicolored musical number. Just as well those bin bags they jumped on were filled with polystyrene packing bubbles and not old, used-up syringes and broken wine bottles.

17:36: Wait, Square-Jawed Pretty-Boy #1 works in a diner? Was that always the case? Sevani does a brief lesson in history-changing dance moves. Turns out there were two.

17:41: Oh look, a bunch of the last movie’s also-rans. Better greet each other with dance moves!

17:42: Dance training montage.

17:46: World Jam final. More flying letters! Straight into the dancing. Conspicuous lack of things that might fly toward the camera. Sure that’ll change, however.

17:51: Dancing.

17:53: Ooh, a mild family orientated ruckus, mid-dance-off. It’s like Eastenders, probably. Vinson’s back in the mix. If I’m honest this has placated me a little. Especially as she was what came flying toward the camera this time. Honestly though, this movie’s really not got much going for it.

17:55: “It’s getting tribal in here,” the announcer declares. As the ‘Pirates’ unveil their Tron-like dancing outfits. Because, y’know, ancient tribes… they… Tron was like a big deal to them… and OutKast records… yeah. Everyone dances.

17:58: They won. Can’t see any jam anywhere for them though. That’s gotta suck. Back to the interview footage. Guess we’re wrapping up. I’m really tired.

18:01: As prejudiced as I’ve been in Vinson’s favour… her American accent throughout this film has been piss poor. Square-Jawed Pretty-Boy #1 just caught her lips with his lips again. That’s gotta lead to credits, right?

18:03: Nope, just enough time for Sevani to get those Nike shoes he always wanted. Jesus Christ.

18:04: Credits. Credits styled around Nike footwear. Even with Vinson, this is a 1/5 venture. Think I might require pizza…

*     *     *     *     *

18:31: Step Up Revolution a.k.a. Step Up 4: Miami Heat (2012)

18:32: Presumably this will follow a similar plot line to The Matrix Revolutions. I imagine there might be similar slow-mo fannying-about-in-the-rain at any rate. Like a total champion I am forging ahead with the film, blogging about it and eating pizza at the same time. This much multi-tasking with a hangover deserves some kind of award. Seriously. Someone get me something.

18:33: Oh, we’re in Miami. Might not be much rain…

18:34: We’re back to the flashmob dancing of the 2nd movie’s opening. Only to the worst music imaginable. And with a plethora of colourful cars that made me question for a second whether I really was back in the Fast And Furious franchise. There’s surely room for crossover. They share core concepts i.e. being shit.

18:36: Mortified to discover the batteries in the remote are going and I can’t turn it down.

18:39: Oh, it’s Spring Break. Or is it? Who can tell? This movie seems to be about a dance crew called The Mob.

18:41: Dancing. Beach dancing. After some ‘acting’ best described as… astonishing.

18:44: I can’t even be bothered to look up the actors’ names this time. These anonymous asshats are totally interchangeable.

18:46: “I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth…” This movie just got time-capsuled. Not to mention how many CDs this guy has. First mention of an upcoming contest. Not breaking the mould, then.

18:48: Whoever was in charge of source music for this film deserves to be fired. Out of a canon. Into the sun.

18:52: Dancing. Presumably in protest to this film and it’s concept, my foot has gone to sleep. Pizza was good though.

18:55: More dancing. Flashmob planning montage. I’m checking my Facebook and updating my Letterboxd with the day’s viewing.

19:01: Okay, the people-in-the-paintings flashmob idea is actually working pretty well. This is a pretty neat sequence. Although the loud audience cooing sort of oversells it.

19:06: See, back around Step Up 2 The Streets, I bemoaned that the flashmob idea wasn’t explored further. But now that it is… I just… I just want this to be over. Maybe watching these back-to-back(ish) has robbed me of any enthusiasm for proportionally organised chaos. With an hour to go, the film is finally introducing us formally to its background characters. I just couldn’t care.

19:09: Dancing. I can’t really remember The Matrix Revolutions, but this is pretty close I’m sure. For what it’s worth this seems to be some of the best dancing of the series. Combine that with anything worth giving a shit about and maybe you’ve got a serviceable movie…

19:14:  It’s taking a more overtly romantic route than at least the last two, however the leads just don’t have the charisma or range to really cover this stuff. The appearance of an M83 song on the soundtrack jerks me out of a soporific near-coma. I’m happy for films to get romantic, but this is like the mail-order catalogue version of romance.

19:19: There’s a mild working-class vs. big-corporate vibe edging its way in. Gotta admire how a movie so shallow keeps lazily dipping its toes in more fertile ground. On that note, I can feel my foot again.

19:21: “Enough with performance art; it’s time for protest art”. Change through flappy-arm? I guess we’ll see…

19:24: See, and now another fairly-decent-seeming dance set piece. There’s a bizarre risk of this entry being, on paper at least, the best of the bunch. P.S. I already can’t remember what Step Up 3D was about.

19:28: Unfortunately all the flashmobbers actually seem to care about are YouTube hits… All goodwill out the window.

19:36: I’m grasping at straws here. This film is as vacuous as every other entry, perhaps more-so for trying to co-opt an actual political ethos.

19:39: Yeah, I’m literally counting down to the end. I’ve shaken the remote to get the batteries working enough to leave the remaining running time on the screen like a comforting bomb-clock from a Bond movie.

19:40: I fear this will make the last half hour seem even longer…

19:42: Dancing.

19:46: “It’s about giving the people who can’t speak a voice.” No, it’s about YouTube hits and corporate sponsorship. It’s been a long day and this movie’s half-arsed hypocrisy has actually sort of got my back-up. I was hoping to find something unexpectedly rewarding or enjoyable in these films. Some element I could take away and say, “You know, actually, there’s more to it than it seems.” But no. There’re just a bunch of talented dancers getting screen time in a studio cashcow. Good dancing, though.

19:52: Dancing and trampolining.

19:54: Step Up reminds us, ultimately, that we are alone in the universe, with only the fluke of our own evolution as cold comfort. A curse of inspiration that dares us to dream. But like interpretive dance, we’re merely making fleeting shapes in the air.

19:56: Dancing and trampolining and bungee cords. And that Moose guy again.

20:00 It’s possible I started taking this all a little too seriously there…







20:03: Credits. 0.5/5

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