Step Up

Step Up All In

Are you ready to step up? Are you ready to go all in? Are you ready to step, um, into the, well, allness? How about this – are you a fan of the Step Up franchise? Then there’s no question that you’re pumped, jazzed, and foxtrotted for the next installment in the heart-pounding dance series. Titled Step Up: All In, the fifth film in the franchise expands out the universe in the best way possible – by pulling it all together. The franchise has long been loosely linked together – either by place or by character – and the next film in the series is looking to really drive home that point. This go-round, a whole mess of fan favorites are back to compete in a massive dance battle in Las Vegas (the franchise has already zinged from Baltimore to New York City to Miami, so why not hit the left coast?). Plenty of familiar faces will be returning for the new film, and it looks like Step Up: All In is the kind of fan-pleasing sequel installment that really, truly wants to deliver. Who do you recognize from the film’s first trailer?

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Step Up

Because there is not an original idea left in Hollywood and also because Summit’s Step Up franchise has, over seven years and four films, morphed into one of the most dazzlingly insane and entertaining properties to pop and lock across our collective movie screens in decades, we’re getting a fifth Step Up film. I hesitate to use this word, but – duh. Deadline Hollywood reports that the studio has picked rising screenwriter star John Swetnam to write the fifth installment of the franchise, proving that Swetnam’s apparent niche of penning found-footage thrillers doesn’t preclude him from writing a film about teen dancing. O-kay. Swetnam has previously written 2012′s Evidence, a film that no one saw but that apparently centered on a detective using found footage to solve a grisly gas station-set massacre, and the upcoming Black Sky, that found-footage tornado film once known as Category 6. Yes, he should most definitely write a Step Up film now.

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Though the setting of the fourth Step Up film, Step Up Revolution, follows its predecessor’s lead and sets its action far from Baltimore’s Maryland School of the Arts (the setting of the first two films, which I have come to miss) and down in steamy Miami, the rest of the film’s basic structure still smacks of every other entry in the franchise (and many other films in its particular genre). As has become the Step Up norm, Step Up Revolution centers on a pair of star-crossed lovers (one rich, one not-so-rich) who are brought together by dance before they are torn apart by outside influences (friends, parents, economics, the usual). Ultimately, they must turn back to dance to repair their relationship and to somehow “beat” whatever it was that tore them apart in the first place. While Step Up Revolution makes no great strides (or twirls) in some of the most basic elements of moviemaking – acting, writing, even simple plotting – it does manage to boast the best dance sequences of any of the four films. In other words, thank goodness this is a dance film.

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Magic Mike may be loosely based on Channing Tatum’s past as a male stripper (and Tatum proves it with his impressive dancing skills), but Tatum first burst onto the film scene in 2006 as a troubled kid from the wrong side of the tracks with some serious moves (even when he is keeping his clothes on) in Step Up. While Tatum has taken on drama (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints), comedy (21 Jump Street), and being a romantic lead (The Vow), one thing has always been true – the guy can dance. Step Up seemed like your typical dance movie based on two dancers, the classically trained Nora (played by Tatum’s now wife, Jenna Dewan) and break dancing Tyler (Tatum), but the dance chops  and chemistry of these two leads made ended up making the film a surprise hit at the box office. Directed by Anne Fletcher (who is also an accomplished choreographer) Step Up’s story not only resonated, but the dancing on screen was fresh and exciting.

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There are few cinematic genres that can deliver as much minute-for-minute audience joy as a well-executed dance film. Summit Entertainment’s Step Up franchise has consistently delivered productions that are, at the very least, wildly entertaining. Though 2010′s Step Up 3D struck me as a misfire (let’s be honest here – Rick Malambri may be easy on the eyes, but the boy can’t dance off-camera fast enough), its predecessors were fun, frisky endeavors that sold the dancing, even when their stories were a little weak. I might not be phrasing this correctly. I love Step Up. Unabashedly. It’s my exact brand of popcorn movie; some people like Transformers, I like Step Up. I’m smiling from ear to ear just thinking about this first trailer for the franchise’s fourth film, Step Up Revolution. Plainly – if you like Step Up, you’re going to like this. I will likely love it. Though the film’s action is moved to Miami (from previous settings in Baltimore and New York), the trailer still features some standard Step Up elements – badass moves, inventive routines, a vague baddie (played by Peter Gallagher of all people!), sexy stars, and protest art. Uh, protest art? That’s right, Step Up is going Occupy – with their moves. But beyond that, longtime fans of the series are in for a real treat, as it looks like everyone’s favorite sidekick with a heart of gold and limbs of rubber is back. That’s right. Moose.

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In popping-and-locking news of the day, Ryan Guzman and Kathryn McCormick will serve as the leads on Summit Entertainment’s Step Up 4. As an unabashed fan of the ludicrous property that is the Step Up franchise, I feel very secure in announcing my thoughts on this casting announcement. One word alone will sum up my feelings, based on my vast knowledge of the films – who?

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fighting-montiel-tatum

Channing Tatum and Dito Montiel talk about ‘Fighting,’ their second collaboration after ‘A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,’ and the big things in store for Tatum in 2009.

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