"Step Up" - A Series Review

Photo Credit: Touchstone Pictures
August 10th, 2012

"Step Up" - A Series Review

-- The popular "Step Up" dance movie series combines teen romance and drama with lively music and intricate dancing performances. The first in the series, released in 2006, suffered poor reviews from critics but was surprisingly popular with younger audiences. The following movies have been built on the same basic formula and continue to do well with each new release. Though there have been three follow-up films, the series shows no signs of stopping. Unfortunately, because the stories are not intertwined, it can be difficult to tell one plot from the other.

"Step Up"

Released in 2006, "Step Up" introduced Tyler Gauge (Channing Tatum) as a troubled teen with a knack for street-style dancing. After getting caught trashing a studio at the Maryland School of Arts, he's sentenced to 200 hours of community service working at the institution. He meets Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan, now Jenna Dewan-Tatum) as she practices diligently for an upcoming competition. Unfortunately, her partner is injured, leaving Nora in the lurch.

A natural study, Tyler convinces Nora that she needs his help by putting on a show of his dancing skills. She takes the idea to the school's director who allows him to take part. As they get to know one another, Tyler helps Nora create the production of her dreams and fight for a spot at MSA.

"Step Up 2: The Streets"

The second movie in the "Step Up" series was released in 2008, and introduced a slew of new characters. Andie West (Briana Evigan) is an orphan living with her mother's friend in Baltimore. She and her street crew are training to take part in the illegal dancing competition known as the Streets. A family-friend, Tyler Gauge, presses her to join the Maryland School of Arts.

The responsibilities of school and her new friends, like Chase Collins (Robert Hoffman), lead to her being kicked out of the crew. Chase convinces her to start a new group so she can still take part in the Streets, but it causes a feud between the two groups. Eventually, her former team trashes MSA, and the school's director warns everyone that they'll be expelled if they're involved in illegal dancing activities.

Fellow MSA-student, Sophie (Cassie Ventura) is jealous of Andie's skills and her relationship with Chase, and turns Andie in to the school's director. He has no choice but to expel her. Once kicked out of school, Andie's guardian tells her that she can't handle the responsibility of a troubled teen and says she is sending Andie to stay with extended family across the country. Chase and Andie have to find a way to stay together, and to win the Streets competition.

"Step Up 3D"

This movie received the best critical ratings out of the series to-date for impressive song and dance numbers and quality 3D. Released in 2010, it follows members of the first two films to New York University. Moose (Adam Sevani) and Camille Gage (Alyson Stoner) are best friends and former students at MSA.

Moose is unhappily studying electrical engineering at the insistence of his father. He winds up running into the leader of a hip-hop dance group preparing for a world championship. While trying to keep his activities under wraps, he loses touch with Camille and gets wrapped up in the lives of his new New York friends.

As one crew leader successfully sabotages another and destroys his hope for winning the competition, Moose asks Camille to help him. First, they need to find out if their friendship can ever be something more, and they'll need their old MSA friends to help them.to win the dance-off.

"Step Up Revolution"

Newly-released in 2012, the latest installment in the "Step Up" movie series has more than just a basic plot in common with its predecessors. "Revolution" was also shot in 3D and features astounding dance routines. However, the setting of this movie is the first to take a major diversion and is based in Miami.

New student, Emily Anderson (Kathryn McCormick), arrives in Miami with her business tycoon dad, Bill Anderson. She meets Sean (Ryan Guzmon) who heads up a local flash-mob dancing crew. His group hopes to win corporate sponsorship by winning a local dance-off and enlists Emily's help.

Unfortunately, the neighborhood where Sean and his friends live is also the site for Mr. Anderson's latest planned project. He hopes to buy out the neighborhood, knock down all the houses and erect a monstrous hotel. The plans threaten not only to break up Sean's group, but also to destroy the kids' friendships.

Tags: Step Up 3D