Back in the day, musicals had tons of scenes that went from strictly dialogue to everyone suddenly bursting out in song and dance. Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Shirley Temple, Dick Van Dyke, Julie Andrews and even curmudgeons Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin would suddenly break into song and dance. That was the magic of the musical.


Things have changed, there aren't as many musicals anymore. And the new ones are either animations or stories about musical venues or musicians. "Burlesque", "Moulon Rouge" and the recent "Rock of Ages were about musical venues/burlesque houses. "Fame" (both releases), "Dreamgirls" and the upcoming "Sparkle" lock in on musicians.


That's what made the "Step-Up" films such a refreshing escape. Originally modeled after "Fame" [in a way], the second transitioned to street dancing and dance challenges. The first three films made the producers Erik Feig and Patrick Wachsberger nearly half a billion dollars worldwide. And as we know, that means the series doesn't stop.

But, to keep it from getting stale, Fieg and Wachsberger realized they needed to refresh the story while keeping the same Romeo and Juliet type theme. So the brought in new comer Jenny Mayer to pen the screenplay using Duane Adler developed characters.


Next they brought in a new director, Scott Speer - whose previous experience was with the television series The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers - Jon Chu was actually working on "G.I. Joe Retaliation, but probably would have been replaced anyway.


Now a change of venue. The previous films were located on the old, dark streets of Baltimore and New York. This time the film crew is set in sunny, modern Miami. There is even a swim suit scene to make sure the viewer knows they are not in Baltimore any more.


The final piece of the puzzle is fresh new talent. Enter Kathryn McCormick and Ryan Guzman two actors from two totally different backgrounds (see McCormick/Guzman chat). And now for the fresher story - flash mobs.

No, I'm not talking about the flash mobs made popular with roving gangs looking to rob people of I-phones... but the fun entertaining type that come together seemingly at random in crowded locations generally out of sight of the police.


Much like street artists (Banksy and others), performance flash mobs are well planned clandestine events that sprout from crowded areas with room to perform. In most cases half the crowd is in on the performance.


In "Step Up Revolution" Guzman plays Sean, a native Miami resident who works at an upscale restaurant by day, and organizes intricate flash mobs during his off hours. Together with his best friend Eddy (Misha Gabriel Hamilton) and a few tech and sound wizards, their group - The Mob - dazzles pedestrians and baffles police.


The opening scene of the film sets an upbeat and lively tone as The Mob performs on [presumably] Collins Avenue with dances, tricked out low-riders, techno lights and music and a street artist who creates a monumental work of art in the three minutes it takes for the performers to finish. They are in a You-Tube competition for the most hits on their video.


While mingling at a beach lounge (owned by the company for whom he works), he meets a hot young lady named Emily (McCormick) who proves she can dance well also. He falls for her and introduces her to The Mob. She immediately wants in.


However, her father is actually Sean's boss (company owner) and he has plans to redevelop Sean's neighborhood. She comes up with the idea for The Mob to perform protest flash mobs rather than just artistic ones. But she doesn't reveal she's the bosses daughter.


The rest is one big dance movement with a sprinkling of plot to keep it honest. Is it profound? No. Is it believable? No, unless you believe impoverished street dancers

can stage multi-thousand dollar performances every other day.


"Step Up Revolution" succeeds in reviving the series with fun toe-tapping performances and terrifically choreographed scenes. Furthermore, it continues the Hollywood hogwash of people just dancing for the heck of it - and that is always fun.   -- GEOFF BURTON