STARRING: Ryan Guzman, Kathryn McCormick, Misha Gabriel, Peter Gallagher
DIRECTOR: Scott Speer (CERT PG, 99 minutes)
The plot: Having ratcheted up $400m in global box-office, cash cow Step Up unleashes its latest instalment. With scant connection to previously established characters, Miami pals Sean (Guzman) and Eddy (Gabriel) lead a disciplined team of flash mobsters who hope to win a cash prize by filming a YouTube sensation. Meanwhile, rebellious Emily (McCormick) inspires the crew to derail her dad’s (Gallagher) development that would obliterate their waterfront community. “Enough with performance art, it’s time for protest art!” Yes, someone actually says that.
What’s right with it? Although the Step Up movies began with a relatively straightforward love story, plausibility was long ago jettisoned in favour of ever more fanciful dance sequences. Episode Four continues that enjoyably ludicrous direction as the flash mobsters unleash their performances in a city street, art gallery, swanky restaurant, dockside and local City Hall. Best of all, Miami’s “heat” is the perfect alibi for having the cast nearly naked throughout.
What’s wrong with it? A flash mob? In 2012? In fairness, the film is targeted at a tween audience that should enjoy the antics of Sean’s crew. The price paid for that PG certificate: a weedily chaste Sean-Emily love story.
Verdict: Earlier this year, audiences collapsed for StreetDance 2, with box office way down on its predecessor. Is the street-dance movie boom over, or was it just an isolated instance? The dance sequences here are sillier, sexier, crazier – an antidote to the summer’s self-important superhero blockbusters. 3/5 @charlesgant
STARRING: Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Anthony Hopkins
DIRECTOR: Fernando Meirelles (CERT 15, 110 minutes)
The plot: As a prostitute crosses paths with a travelling businessman (Law), his wife (Weisz) has her own adventures in London. Meanwhile, a worried father (Hopkins) takes an eventful flight.
What’s right with it? This Crash-style ensemble drama has several excellent scenes – Jude’s story is involving and Hopkins is fantastic as ever. We were also impressed by Ben Foster as a sex offender trying to curb his urges.
What’s wrong with it? It’s so cluttered with characters, it’s hard to get behind any of them, and a few of the scenes don’t quite ring true.
Verdict: Brilliant in parts, less so in others, but this adventure is still well worth a watch for fans of the talented cast. 3/5 @annasmithjourno
STARRING: Joe Cole, English Frank, Kimberley Nixon
DIRECTOR: Ron Scalpello (CERT 15, 102 minutes)
The plot: Convicted for assault on a police officer, Tommy (Cole) is sent to a young offenders’ institution. But all is not as it seems. Flashbacks reveal that Tommy is out for justice against a fellow inmate… and revenge.
What’s right with it? A highly engaging story, skilfully told, Offender benefits from old-fashioned virtues such as pace, rhythm, well-drawn characters and a powerful lead performance from charismatic Joe Cole.
What’s wrong with it? A number of plot points raise credibility concerns, including the continued employment of one particular psycho prison officer.
Verdict: More than three decades after Ray Winstone starred in Scum, that landmark borstal drama gets a successor that’s worthy of comparison. 4/5 @charlesgant