Step Up 5: All In: Dances triumph over script

Step Up 5: All In sees a cast of familiar faces… wait! When on earth did they make five of these things?

Step Up 5: All In sees a cast of familiar faces… wait! When on earth did they make five of these things? You might remember Step Up numero uno and Step Up 2: The Streets because of the delicious Channing Tatum, but I think I got lost somewhere after that. But, here we are, at number five, and it’s clearly a franchise that still has a popular following.
A winning opening sequence
The opening sequence is an absolute winner. After all, who doesn’t want to kick off their popcorn munching session by watching a row of hunky, topless guys shaking maracas and wearing sombrero hats? See, I’ve sold it to you already.
But, alas, things don’t work out for said highly attractive dance crew, and we soon see a disgruntled, kicked down group of young people giving up on their dreams and leaving Hollywood, the land that crushed their spirits.
All except one!
All except one! Because there’s always one. Said one is actually Sean (played by Ryan Guzman) the leading man from Step Up 4 who seems to have ended up in the dirt again. Either way, Sean decides, as everyone must, to follow his dreams and enter The Vortex, a dance-off game show that’s so like The Hunger Games you’ll find yourself muttering ‘may the odds be ever in your favour,’ under your breath.
The Vortex is hosted by Alexxa Brava (Izabella Miko) who has her very own drinking game – every time Alexxa changes her wig, shot, shot, shot! – but who’s utterly devious under all that fake hair and is out to cause trouble for Sean and his friends.
Sean, lost in L.A. without his old Miami crew, The Mob, needs some new dancers to be able to enter the competition, and enlists the help of old favourite Moose (Adam Sevani) to get the best of the best together.
This is the point where the Step Up series really comes into its own, as people in the cinema started to cheer when past characters from other movies appeared in a classic gathering together montage.
Not only are these people fans of the movies, but they’re fans of the dancers and respect their work. Even I, clueless as to these people’s Step Up pasts, knew from the reactions around me that this was one hell of a cast.
Although it’s not clear how many years have passed since the previous Step Up film, it’s definitely a case of ‘where are they now?’ Andie (Briana Evigan) from Step Up 2, is pinning costumes on a fashion shoot, while Moose and Camille (Alyson Stoner) from, well, all the freakin’ movies, have settled into a nice apartment together.
It’s a bit bizarre to try and imagine these guys as adults, old enough to drink and gamble, maybe because every time I look at Alyson Stoner I see The Jonas Brothers singing their hearts out at Camp Rock. But then you check yourself, realise that the first Step Up was released in 2006 (eep!) and clock that they’ve all got to be mid-twenties by now, and feel completely depressed because your childhood has just vanished before your eyes. Sob.
Dance like everyone’s watching
Okay, so the script is predictably cheesy – leading guy has abandoned his old crew and has loyalty issues, leading girl is terrified of being injured and never being able to dance again (cue gasp) – but it’s testament to the quality of the dancing in these films that Nobody. Gives. A. Damn.
As weak as the plot was, people endeavoured to buy it and laughed through some of the worst bits of acting to get to the juicy scenes when the music started to play and people on screen started to hip thrust. 
More is more
Less is more is clearly an unknown phrase to the Step Up producers and choreographers, because within minutes we’re thrown into a dance off between two crews (suddenly, saying ‘crews’ is totally acceptable and down with the kids) including epic beer bottle throwing and intense ‘come at me’ style staring. This movie takes dancing up and beyond the next level, packing the film full of incredible sequences.
Step Up’s success has always been its ability to acknowledge every dance genre out there, from street to ballet to salsa, and even the robot. The sets are scandalously over the top – after all, if you want to blow your budget on a film, you might as well set most of it in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas – complete with fire, roman gladiator outfits and floating chandeliers. 
Unnecessary 3D
The 3D, as with most films that aren’t Marvel related, is completely unnecessary, as are the added sound effects of amplified swooshes and stomps. It was never needed in the original film, and the producers would be wise to let the dancing speak for itself, instead of implanting a noise like a jet engine every time someone kicks their leg in the air. The quality of the dance is the reason these films are still alive, and should be kept that way. 
It could definitely benefit from better script writing and stronger dramatic actors, but not everyone is lucky enough to be a character actor and an outstanding dancer. It’s highly predictable – we all saw that end kiss coming – but the abs and pop and locks are well worth the ticket price in the end. 
Kettle Rating: 3.5/5 stars
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