×

Film Review: ‘Step Up All In’

This spectacle-heavy, plot-light Vegas showdown reunites your favorite dancers (minus Channing Tatum) from the tired franchise.

With:
Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Stephen "Twitch" Boss, Misha Gabriel, Izabella Miko, Alyson Stoner, Adam Sevani, Stephen “Stev-o” Jones.

The franchise that launched Channing Tatum’s career limps its way to Las Vegas in “Step Up All In,” where characters with bum knees and broken hearts compete for a shot at a three-year casino dance contract. With even less plot than in previous installments to get in the way of its inventive 3D dance scenes, this fifth pic delivers on spectacle — especially in its nine-minute, flame-throwing Caesars Palace finale — but lacks in chemistry, trying to pair the leads of the second and fourth films after their co-stars dumped them. Although the series’ box office has been slipping, this “all in” reunion (minus Tatum) could reverse the trend ever so slightly.

By this point, the characters have reached an age where dancing for fun doesn’t cut it, so they must find a way to make a living in the famously brutal field, whose humiliating auditions and frequent rejections make for a playful if out-of-sync credits sequence. It seems Sean (Ryan Guzman) and his crew, the Mob, moved from Miami to Los Angeles sometime after 2012’s “Step Up Revolution,” but now, they’re all late on their rent and decide to leave Sean to fend for himself in L.A.

Sean’s romantic partner from the last movie has also lost interest, which leaves this cute but astonishingly uncharismatic guy to sit alone in his room, pondering whatever it is shirtless, expressionless guys ponder while pretending not to think about their strategically exposed eight-packs. Sean decides to Google dancing opportunities, which leads him to a reality-show contest called “The Vortex,” hosted by a glamazon (Polish dancer Izabella Miko) clearly channeling Elizabeth Banks’ “The Hunger Games” emcee.

Popular on Variety

So far, the common thread between the “Step Up” sequels — apart from watching sparks fly between a good girl and bad guy — has been goofy supporting actor Adam Sevani, aka “Moose.” Once the gangly sidekick, Moose has filled out and coupled up, even taking a grown-up job at an engineering lab that will make a convenient backdrop for their crazy-cool mad-scientist audition tape.

For whatever reason, Sean doesn’t think to ask the Mob to compete with him in Vegas (surprise: they turn up anyway), instead relying on Moose to recruit a new crew composed of dancers featured in the past three movies. Moose’s first stop: “Step Up 2 the Streets” star Briana Evigan, back as Andie, who needs no excuse to quit her fashion-industry gig — or to drop everything mid-shoot and battle Sean in a room full of giant yellow balloons.

Screenwriter John Swetnam (a tyro scribe also credited with next month’s “Into the Storm”) won’t win any awards for the clumsy scenes he inserts between first-time director Trish Sie’s stunning dance numbers. That said, the easily resolved dramatic conflicts — a blooming romance between Sean and Andie, a misunderstanding between Moose and his g.f. (Alyson Stoner, who played Tatum’s kid sister in the original “Step Up”), and bad karma between Sean and the Mob — are wisely kept to a minimum, even if, say, bringing back the lovebirds’ respective exes might’ve made things more interesting.

Besides, eager young dance fans will sit through stale storylines as long as the movie can supply fresh moves, and in that department, Sie and her team of three choreographers have it covered. Gone are the silly flash mobs seen in the previous film, going back instead to the idea of epic dance battles set to cutting-edge club music. In the L.A.-set, Vancouver-shot opening, Sean steps up to a guy named Jasper (Stephen “Stev-o” Jones), whose Grim Knights crew puts them to shame, busting moves that take full advantage of the 3D cameras. Naturally, Jasper will resurface in Vegas, with an ace up his sleeve that will make things virtually impossible for Sean and his new LMNTRIX team to top.

Given all the great international dance crews assembled for the “Vortex” competish, one has to wonder why we should care about Sean, who spends most of his time pouting about how life isn’t fair. A personality like that has no business being in Vegas, where the house always wins, though it’s high time “Step Up” arrived there. If anything, this series could actually work better onstage, where the franchise name would conceivably bring in younger audiences. Talk about a safe bet.

Film Review: 'Step Up All In'

Reviewed at Gaumont Opera, Paris, July 15, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 112 MIN.

Production: A Lionsgate release of a Summit Entertainment presentation of an Offspring Entertainment release. Produced by Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot, Patrick Wachsberger, Erik Feig. Executive producers, Jon M. Chu, David Nicksay, Scott Speer, Matthew Smith, Bob Hayward, David Garrett, Meredith Milton.

Crew: Directed by Trish Sie. Screenplay, John Swetnam, based on characters created by Duane Adler. Camera (color, 3D), Brian Pearson; editor, Niven Howie; music, Jeff Cardoni; music supervisor, Buck Damon; production designer, Devorah Herbert; art director, James Philpott; set decorator, Hamish Purdy; costume designer, Soyon An; sound (Dolby Digital), Kelly Zombor; supervising sound editor, Odin Benitez; re-recording mixers, Gary C. Bourgeois, Brad Sherman; visual effects supervisor, Andrew Karr; visual effects, Atmosphere Visual Effects; special effects coordinator, Tony Lazarowich; stunt coordinator, Owen Walstrom; choreographers, Jamal Sims, Christopher Scott, Dondraico Johnson; stereographer, Jeff Walt Rios; casting, Richard Mento.

With: Ryan Guzman, Briana Evigan, Stephen "Twitch" Boss, Misha Gabriel, Izabella Miko, Alyson Stoner, Adam Sevani, Stephen “Stev-o” Jones.

More Film

  • KARMELE

    Asier Altuna Preps Basque Historical Drama ‘Karmele the Hour of Waking Together’

    Basque cinema is booming, and director Asier Altuna is part of the vanguard leading it forward. The Spanish filmmaker, behind 2005 Youth Award winner “Aupa Etxebeste!” and 2015 Best Basque Film “Amama” at the San Sebastián Intl. Film Festival, attended this year’s Ventana Sur Proyecta sidebar with his next project, “Karmele, the Hour of Waking [...]

  • The Day is Long and Dark

    Francisco Barreiro Cast in Upcoming Julio Hernández Cordón Project (EXCLUSIVE)

    Julio Hernández Cordón, one of Mexico’s most-awarded independent filmmakers over the last decade, has found the leading man for his next feature “The Day is Long and Dark (My Friends are Vampires),” in Fantastic Fest best actor winner Francisco Barreiro, star of Adrián García Bogliano’s “Here Comes the Devil.”. Barreiro’s casting was shared with Variety from Buenos [...]

  • Macabre

    Rio Fest’s Compact Edition Opens Amidst Sectorial Crisis

    RIO DE JANEIRO  — The 21st Rio Intl. Film Fest opens Monday Dec. 9t with the screening of Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” in the Odeon landmark theater. The smaller than usual edition, which was almost cancelled due to the lack of municipal backing, reflects the crisis of Brazil’s film sector, involved in a battle with the administration [...]

  • Papa-YouTuber

    Peru’s ‘Papa YouTuber’ Goes Global (EXCLUSIVE)

    Argentine sales agency FilmSharks Int’l label The Remake Company has sold remake rights at Ventana Sur to Peruvian family comedy hit “Papa YouTuber” (“YouTuber Dad”) to Mexico’s Cinepolis and Italy’s Colorado Films, with several other territories pending. Advanced discussions are underway in Germany, with Spain, France and the U.S. also pending. “The U.S. deal will [...]

  • Elia Suleiman attends the screening of

    'Pleasure Is Extremely Political,' Palestinian Filmmaker Elia Suleiman Says

    In a freewheeling masterclass held at the Marrakech Film Festival on Thursday, director Elia Suleiman offered as concise a mission statement as can be, defining his guiding beliefs in four short words. “Pleasure is extremely political,” said the Palestinian director, whose films have approached the fraught nature of life in the occupied territories with a [...]

  • Panel-Ventana-Sur-2019-1

    Ventana Sur: Industry Luminaries Converge, Talk Women In Cinema

    BUENOS AIRES – Ventana Sur’s Opening Windows conference series welcomed an esteemed line-up of women in film to Buenos Aires’ UCA campus on Wednesday afternoon for a panel that sought to familiarize the audience with the enormous weight of breaking into a male-dominated industry throughout the years. Among the panelists was Argentine Producer Lita Stantic, [...]

  • ALMAMULA

    Eurimages Winning Project ‘Almamula’ Stands Out at Ventana Sur’s Proyecta

    Juan Sebastian Torales arrived at this year’s Ventana Sur Proyecta showcase for Latin American projects as one of the event’s most buzzed up debutants with his upcoming semi-autobiographical feature “Almamula.” In September, Torales and producer Pilar Peredo, from France’s Tu Vas Voir, pitched the project at San Sebastian’s Co-production Forum, where it won the Eurimages [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content