If the first three films in a series have all been nothing particularly special at best and mostly forgettable at worst, chances are a fourth installment will not be the one to turn things around. Exhibit A in proving this theory wrong is "Step Up: Revolution," easily the best entry in the surprisingly financially successful dance franchise. The plot is a creaky festoon of clichés all rolled up into one, and, yes, it's difficult to take any of it very seriously because of just how familiar its subplots and story threads are. Fortunately, director Scott Speer (making his feature debut) has enlivened its antiquated elements with such ambitious polish, energy and sincerity that it's just as easy getting swept away in the foot-stomping, sumptuously photographed charm of it all. Also featuring the most involving central love story of all the "Step Up" movies—the characters here actually approach multiple dimensions—"Step Up: Revolution" works in spite of its familiarity because Speer and first-time scribe Jenny Mayer believe in what they've made. Together, they've found a beating heart and a glimmer of social consciousness to go along with the show-stopping dance theatrics.
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