It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for dance movies. To be fair, I’m actually a sucker for good dance in general. I don’t know what got me interested in dance in the first place when I was a little kid, but it led me to joining my high school dance team (which has now been ages ago). These days I’m just a huge dance fan, with my occasional moments of dancing in my car and dreaming up choreography to songs when I listen to them.
Dance movies are by no means the best movies in the world, but I love watching them. They’re a nice distraction and the dancing’s always amazing. So anyways, I finally got around to watching two dance movies that were released last year, Make Your Move and Step Up: All In.
Make Your Move stars Derek Hough (of Dancing With the Stars) and Korean pop star BoA as Donny and Aya, two dancers caught between their feuding brothers. It’s a Romeo and Juliet set-up that ultimately makes everything feel very forced in its attempt to be more than a generic film. I was initially excited about the movie for a few reasons: 1) Derek Hough, who is such an amazingly talented dancer and choreographer; 2) NappyTabs were one of the main choreographers; and 3) They filmed it in Toronto. Unfortunately, I was excited for nothing. While most times the dancing is enough to make you forget about the plot and even the acting, this was one of the rare times where I found everything else to be more distracting than the dancing. There was promise in the dancing (or at least you’d hope so, since it is a DANCE movie), with a tap and hip-hop fusion, mixed in with taiko drumming – that was what made it unique. To me, it seemed like there wasn’t enough dancing, especially of the fusion dances. The main feature is that Donny and Aya’s brothers, played by Wesley Jonathan and Will Yun Lee, each have their own clubs, which allows for there to be a stage for our aspiring dancers to perform. Giving them a platform to dance obviously works, even if it is a convenient story device. It’s when they start doing the intricate choreography off the stage as part of their everyday life that it starts to fall apart. There’s the obligatory “love connection” dance scene (you know that one where the two leads realize there’s a deeper connection beyond dance), wherein Donny and Aya start doing some contemporary hip-hop around his place. The scene feels forced, scripted and choreographed, not the least bit natural at all. It also doesn’t help either that, try as they may, there’s no chemistry between Derek and BoA. Honestly, the script itself was an uninspired mess, filled with typical dance movie dialogue that there was nothing anybody could do to elevate it out of generic territory.
Step Up: All In is the fifth movie in the series, and at this point is more or less of the same. Watching this movie, it’s crazy to think that it all started with the original Step Up starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan; it just seems so different. Here, The Mob (the crew from Step Up Revolution) are struggling in their attempt to make a career in Los Angeles, especially when another crew, The Grim Knights are booking all the gigs. Feeling that they’re just not cut out for L.A., everybody except Sean packs up their bags and heads back to Miami. When Sean finds out about a dance competition called The Vortex, he sees it as one last chance at his dance dream and with the help of Moose, assembles another crew (LMNTRIX) comprised of dancers from previous Step Up installments to compete. There’s a tiny twist with The Mob entering the competition, but you essentially know what it’s all leading up to – LMNTRIX vs. The Grim Knights. When you get five movies into a series, it wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that not all the installments are on the same level. While Revolution actually felt like it was trying something different in terms of storytelling, in addition to all the dance sequences, All In lived up to its title by mixing in everything/anything it could from the first four movies and see if it worked. It ended up being a little derivative and no standout dance sequence from what seemed like not very many. At the very least, the movie serves as a good feature for all the SYTYCD alums: tWitch, Marko, Comfort, Cyrus, Tony Bellissimo, Phillip Chbeeb, Emilio Dosal, Jayme Rae & Jenny Dailey, Vincent Poirier, Janick Arseneau.
Basically at the end of the day, I didn’t really like either of the movies. Both felt very bland and predictable, with nothing really spectacular about it to make you want to watch it again. I’m just a little disappointed that they weren’t better than the ended up being. So I’m just gonna go back and watch Center Stage/Step Up/Take the Lead for the millionth time.