The latest movie in the Step Up franchise aims for a politicized message behind all the flashy moves but it could do with a lot less plot and a lot more dancing. In Step Up Revolution the Miami dance group "The Mob" takes to the streets (and other random locations) to perform intricately choreographed routines with their own DJ a camera guy who uploads their videos to YouTube and a graffiti artist who leaves their signature behind. It takes at least that much effort just to get hipster New Yorkers to ride the subways without any pants on once a year; it's hard to believe that The Mob could pull off their elaborate schemes without getting caught but that's the magic of movies.
The Mob represents the more diverse working class side of Miami a young multiracial group of friends who create incredible works of art that disappear before they get shut down. One of the Mob's leaders Sean (Ryan Guzman) earnestly explains to newcomer Emily (Kathryn McCormick) that the group's reason is to give a voice to the voiceless or to be happy or to dance or something. It's not really clear but they have a lot of fun and look amazing doing it.
Once Sean and his friends find out that a greedy developer plans to raze their neighborhood to make way for another South Beach-style hotel monstrosity they have a reason to rally but until then they're just trying to win a cash prize by getting clicks on YouTube. The typical Step Up twist is that Emily is the developer's daughter. Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher) doesn't approve of Emily's love of dancing or other frippery and he certainly wouldn't approve of her hanging out with the people causing such mayhem in the streets of Miami.
Step Up Revolution biggest misstep is trying to give the movie more of a hook than the franchise's typical Romeo and Juliet-style love story and tap into "the Zeitgeist" (I swear that's from the studio-provided press notes) of flash mobs. The film could have cut out most of the plot and characters and still have a completely intact film insofar as the point of the film is its multimedia dance routines. The sort of productions The Mob pulls off are more akin to carefully planned art installations or music videos in terms of scope; it would have been better to at least make that somehow feasible in terms of the storyline. Yes we are here for a spectacle and we surely get a spectacle but it needs to have some roots in reality.
The dance scenes are fun sexy and occasionally a little sappy but overall quite enjoyable for people who enjoy "So You Think You Can Dance" type of shows. Kathryn McCormick and Stephen "tWitch" Boss both appeared on "SYTYCD" and their costar Misha Gabriel is a classically trained ballet dancer turned pro back-up dancer for folks like Beyoncé and Michael Jackson. Guzman doesn't have a dance background but he is an MMA fighter who obviously took his training very seriously. The entire outfit is pretty damn entertaining to be honest.
As far as the 3D goes it makes most of Miami look overcast and grey. The extra zings added in to make sure we get our money's worth like sand flicking out at us or a breakdancer whose foot seems to be aiming for our face only serves to distract from the real show at hand. There is also an awful lot of ramping and generally spazzy editing tricks that look cheap. The screenplay by Amanda Brody is definitely not its strong suit.
Step Up Revolution is the cinematic equivalent of a trashy beach novel. It's embarrassing to be caught actually enjoying it and you'll forget about it almost immediately but it's a decent way to spend a summer afternoon.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
Dolores Fuller, who was portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker in Tim Burton and Johnny Depp's 1994 Wood biopic, was the cross-dressing director's one-time girlfriend and star of his most famous 1950s films Glen or Glenda and Jail Bait.
The Indiana-born actress, who was a former model, met Wood at a casting call while she was working as a stand-in for Dinah Shore on the entertainer's TV show in 1952. He cast her as his leading lady in 1953's Glen or Glenda and the couple became lovers.
They split in 1955 after Wood cast another actress as the lead in his Bride of Frankenstein film - and she moved to New York to study under acting guru Stella Adler.
She also impressed as a songwriter, co-penning Elvis Presley's Rock-A-Hula Baby for his 1961 movie Blue Hawaii.
The success inspired her to write more hits for Presley films and standards like Someone to Tell it To and Losers Weepers.
Fuller also launched Johnny Rivers' recording career.
She chronicled her life in her 2009 autobiography, A Fuller Life: Hollywood, Ed Wood and Me.
In a mammoth deal, NBC has signed an agreement to have its hit show Will & Grace on the air for three more seasons. The network will pay a license fee of nearly $4 million per episode to its in-house producer NBC Studios, for a deal valued at more than $300 million. The comedy will stay on the air through May 2005--into its seventh season. This makes Will & Grace the fourth most expensive series, behind ER ($8 million per episode), Friends ($6 million per) and Frasier ($5.2 million per).
As if we expected anything differently, Tonya Harding, the ice-skating terror who likes to maim her competition, won her celebrity boxing match against former Bill Clinton accuser Paula Jones. The Fox TV special, which aired Wednesday, also had Todd Bridges (Diff'rent Strokes) pummeling rapper Vanilla Ice, and Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) annihilating Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch). A stellar night of entertainment.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell won her lawsuit against her former personal assistant Vanessa Frisbee, who allegedly revealed personal details of Campbell's life, breaching her contract of confidentiality. Frisbee was Campbell's assistant for three months between January and April 2000 and, once let go, sold her story, including details of Campbell's sex life, to News of the World. Frisbee is ordered to pay damages.
A cause for the mysterious virus that affected many attendees of the Academy Awards Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards banquet March 2 has yet to be determined. About 200 of the 500 guests were afflicted with symptoms of nausea and diarrhea that lasted a few days, including the Oscar show's executive producer, Laura Ziskin. Host Charlize Theron was not affected.
A man who slipped on a puddle of urine and water at a U2 concert at Soldier Field in Chicago was awarded $2.6 million for the disfigurement of his leg after many knee surgeries. U2 is not liable, and the man, Steven Chang, maintains he is still a huge fan of the Irish rock band.
Hearts are breaking all over. Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean told VH1 that he is engaged to singer Sarah Martin. Seems McLean is getting his life in order after entering a drug-rehabilitation program last July. The two plan to tie the knot sometime in 2003, aiming to be married on the anniversary of the day they met. Isn't that sweet?
Cristian Saliadarre, 28, and Anthony Alvarez, 27, two actors from the TV show America's Most Wanted, pleaded guilty Wednesday to having sex with a minor at an abused children's shelter. The plea was made so that in return the two would also not be charged with sodomy and oral copulation. Very nice.
Janet Jackson was named Entertainer of the Year by the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters on Friday, People.com reported. She told the audience in Washington D.C., "I believe that one of the greatest treasures we have as a people is the freedom to express ourselves and the opportunity to share that expression. Thank you, NABOB."
The battle over Jerry Garcia's guitars hit one more snag. The Grateful Dead rocker, who died in 1995, had four cherished guitars--Tiger, Wolf, Rosebud and Headless--and had left them to their maker, Doug Irwin, but Grateful Dead Productions maintains the guitars belonged to the Dead, not Garcia. The two parties reached a compromise of taking two guitars each, but a new question of Irwin paying taxes has arisen and will be dealt with accordingly.