The Step Up series reaches its fourth instalment (and second in 3D) with this week's Miami Heat, a dance/romance that switches from the urban backdrops of Baltimore and New York to a sun-drenched beachside locale for another round of toe-tapping fun. The warmer climate is an excuse to show off more toned limbs and bronzed abs, but he movie itself is undone by a predictable story and some questionable acting. Still, at least the dance moves are impressive!
The story centres on Sean (Ryan Guzman), a hotel waiter by day and dancer by night with crew 'The Mob'. He and pals Eddy (Misha Gabriel), Penelope (Cleopatra Coleman) and Jason (franchise veteran Stephen 'tWitch' Boss) deliver dance movies with a twist, hitting the streets of Miami to flash mob the unsuspecting public. Capturing the action on camera and upping it to the web, The Mob are in a race to get 10 million views and win a hefty cash prize they hope will send them on their way to stardom.
Complicating matters for Sean is the arrival of Emily (So You Think You Can Dance's Kathryn McCormick), a dancer trying out for Mia Michaels's prestigious company much to the chagrin of her property tycoon pop (Peter Gallagher).
The pair grow closer as Emily becomes part of the dance crew, but her dad is planning to rip down Sean's neighbourhood in order to build a new luxury hotel. Naturally, this creates a rift between Sean, Emily and the crew, throwing all their futures into doubt.
Step Up 4 intersperses its rote plot with some fancy body-moving numbers, featuring samples from artists as diverse as Radiohead, Jennifer Lopez, M.I.A. and The Cinematic Orchestra. The stand-out sequence is a breathtaking 'attack' on an art museum which sees the camouflaged flash-mobbers spring to life from the paintings and sculptures.
The orchestration is admittedly impressive, but Step Up 4 already feels somewhat like a time capsule movie seeing as flash mobbing's 15 minutes as a cultural 'thing' seem to be up. Friends with Benefits, released more than 12 months ago, just about got away with it.
As the dancers launch a protest against the property development, there are shades of Occupy Miami with the locals taking on corporate greed. Any social point it's striving to make, however, is lost when a huge sports brand comes along to dangle a boat-load of cash to the troupe.
In a calmer dance sequence, Emily is told that she has impeccable technique but lacks originality. It could be a critique of the movie itself - for all its flash moves, it's a clichéd and predictable story that fails to offer up any surprises.