Movie Review: Step Up 3D

Step Up 3D

Here’s my suggestion for any future installments in the “Step Up” franchise: Less talking, more dancing.

Let me preface this by saying that dance films are not my cup of tea. I do enjoy the occasional musical, but this series is definitely aimed at a completely different demographic. With that being said, here’s what I thought of the movie, from an unbiased, albeit male, point-of-view.

The plot of Step Up 3D is filled with cliches. Moose (Adam Sevani), a freshman at NYU, has decided to give up dancing in order to follow in his father’s footsteps and become an engineer. He soon meets Luke (Rick Malambri), the leader of the “Pirates,” an underground dance crew who are preparing to battle their rivals, the “Samurai,” in the World Jam in order to use the prize money to keep their flat. Moose’s platonic love interest, Camille (Alyson Stoner), becomes disillusioned with him after he abandons her for his newfound dance crew. Meanwhile, another mysterious new dancer, Natalie (Sharni Vinson), also catches Luke’s attention.

The plot is extremely formulaic. If this isn’t the first movie you’ve ever seen, you’ll know what’s coming the entire time. This movie isn’t about story, though, its about dancing, and that is the one area where the movie does shine. The dance “battles” in Step Up 3D are extraordinary. The way these people can move their bodies is truly amazing. In addition, considerable thought and choreography went into not only the dance routines, but also the way these scenes are shot. Director Jon Chu shows how he can make an already-impressive dance into an exciting, coherent sequence. The cinematography doesn’t just enable us to watch these incredible performers, it enhances the spectacle of what they are doing.

Ultimately, however, this can’t save what is only a mediocre film. Unfortunately, the acting is not as impressive as the dancing. Clearly, most of the players in the film are dancers, not actors, and this definitely shows through in their performances. The script was less than stellar but the acting all-around is very poor. Combine this with the two cheesy love stories and the dramatic parts of the movie fall apart. Many of the supposedly romantic scenes between the leads just don’t work. Sure, teenage girls will swoon, but the rest of us are left waiting uncomfortably for the next dance number.

As for the 3D, I actually didn’t mind it as much as I thought I would. I really am not a fan of any 3D in film but at certain points during this film it was used in a surprisingly benefitting way. Of course, for all of these genuinely enjoyable 3D moments we also have the dumb gimmicks like random bubbles flying around or the dancers pointing right into the screen. If 3D is to be taken seriously as an element of modern filmmaking, these little things that may have been cute in the 50s, or even 1985, need to go.

This movie does have a weird sort of charm. I guess the naivety of it is kind of a relief. Then again, I tend to watch darker films, so maybe the lighthearted, juvenile appeal is just a surprise to me. In any case, this is only a product of its cliche script and poor delivery. This does make the film watchable, though. I still enjoyed the movie, as I do with the overwhelming majority of films I watch. When I review a film, however, I must give it closer examination and pass judgement from an objective point of view. In any case, Step Up 3D is not painful to watch.

Despite its flaws, the audience that enjoyed the previous two “Step Up” films will also like this latest installment. That doesn’t mean it is a good movie, though. The story is way too predictable, the characters are shallow, and the actors bring nothing special to their parts. Still, the film was not devoid completely of enjoyment. The cheesy love story and juvenile humor can be laughed at and the dance scenes are legitimately impressive. Step Up 3D is a dance film, and it delivers on that promise so if you’re looking for some crazy dancing, want to laugh at ridiculously corny dialogue, or if your girlfriend wants to see it, go see Step Up 3D. Otherwise, don’t bother.

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