Like popcorn without a movie, sand without the sea or a cone with no ice cream, Step Up: Year of the Dance has you asking “what is the point?” as it takes the step out of Step Up.
Step Up: Year of the Dance follows a group of struggling young dancers, who team up with a couple of members from a dance crew in order to form one large dance crew and compete against the best dance crew in the world. But with strong and even unfair competition, their task is anything but easy.
Not an all-too-different plot from almost any of the previous five installments of the Step Up franchise, but this version lacks two major aspects: truly jaw dropping choreography, and genuine emotions.
The feature is filled with dance routines from start to finish, as expected specifically from the Step Up franchise; however, the choreography and the dance moves look the same, with no stand out moves that make you stop and think “I could never do that in a million years.” Instead there is cool music, cool clothes, and even cool names but the actual dancing is neither impressive nor diverse. It is only in the last dance routine of the film that some new and impressive moves start appearing. Saving the best for last is a good thing as nit helps in ending the film with a bang and shows that the dance crew gave all they got; however, this doesn’t mean having a dance film with almost the same dance moves being repeated over and over again.
Step Up: Year of the Dance’s lack of emotions stems from several factors. Firstly, the fact that it is poorly dubbed, with dialogue flow sometimes not even making sense, means that audiences are constantly being thrown off; accordingly, viewers can never fully emotionally immerse themselves in the film. Another issue is the exaggeration of emotions, whether positive or negative, and the simultaneous quick turnover of emotions without a proper and plausible period for humans to process them.
Another hindrance is the extent to which the film catered to a Chinese audience, with little to no concern for international audiences. This may be why the film actually witnessed low international viewership and even walk outs.
The fact that the Step Up franchise is still making money is itself very impressive, since the films are simple in concept and we are already five movies in. That being said, Step Up: Year of the Dance in particular is definitely not made for an international audience; thus, it will be hard for international audiences to like it and remember it.