Monday, August 16, 2010

Movie Review: Step Up 3-D

Step Up 3-D **
Directed By:
John M. Chu.
Written By: Amy Andelson & Emily Meyer based on characters created by Duane Adler.
Starring: Rick Malambri (Luke), Adam G. Sevani (Moose), Sharni Vinson (Natalie), Alyson Stoner (Camille), Keith Stallworth (Jacob), Kendra Andrews (Anala), Stephen “Twitch” Boss (Jason), Martín Lombard (The Santiago Twins), Facundo Lombard (The Santiago Twins), Oren Michaeli (Carlos)

There is a bit of dance craze going on over the last few years - achored by popular shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars. Over the past few years we also seem to get two or three mainstream dance movies a year as well. They essentially all follow the same formula - a ragtag group of dancers get together to take part in some huge dance competition in order to save themselves from their own impoverished background, or save a community center or something similar. The best of these movies, and I use the term loosely because I don’t think I’ve seen one that I would call a legitimately good movie, have been the Step Up movies. Sure, they follow the same formula, the writing is lackluster and the acting is usually subpar - but the dancing on display really is quite great. Step Up 3-D is more of the same from this series.

Like Step Up 2, there is very little to connect this movie with the previous ones in the series. Yet again, the main characters are jettisoned to tell an entirely different story. In this case, Moose (Adam G. Sevani) from the second movie, and Camille (Alyson Stoner) who had a small role in the first film, are all grown up and headed to NYU for their freshman year. They have been best friends for years - are seemingly able to complete each others sentences and it is obvious to everyone except for them that they should be together. On their introductory tour through New York, Moose accidentally gets involved in a dance battle in Washington Square Park, and catches the attention of Luke (Rick Malambri). Luke owns a building that he uses as a club, and also his as own personal commune for dancers that he likes. They live in this huge, dilapidated building together, but they are getting behind on the mortage. There is a huge dance battle competition coming up, and while their team, known as the Pirates, are good another team - led by a trust fund baby - is perhaps even better. But Luke thinks that with the addition of Moose, as well as the gorgeous, yet mysterious Natalie (Sharni Vinson) they may have a chance to win - and use the prize money to save their way of life.

There are secrets to be revealed, conflicts to be resolved, etc. None of it really matters though and is really just an excuse to string together a bunch of dance sequences. And I must admit, that the dancing in the movie is amazing at times. And although I have been hard on 3-D in the past, I have to say that in this case it actually worked fairly well. For the first time in an non animated movie since Avatar, the 3-D did not look dirty and blurry to me - but actually does pop out the way it is supposed to. Does it really add much to the movie? No, but it doesn’t hurt either.

The problem with the movie, as with all of the Step Up films, is in the scenes where there is no dancing. Perhaps because they need to find actors who are great dancers as well as actors, most of the performances here aren’t very good. The exceptions are Sevani, who is charming in a geeky way, and Stoner who really is quite engaging. They aren’t really given much to do, but they make the most of what they are given. Malambri is another one of those faceless pretty boys who are a dime of dozen. He doesn’t really show any discernable acting talent here - and I also have to say that as a dancer, he is miles behind the best in this movie. Vinson is better - beautiful in a slightly offbeat way, and a better dancer, but only a little more natural. I don’t see either one really going much farther in the acting career.

Step Up 3-D does have some great dance numbers - but I do have to say that after a while they started to blend together, so by the time we get to what should be the high point - the epic battle between the Pirates and the Samurai, I felt under whelmed. By far the best dance number in the film is between Sevani and Stoner to a slightly remixed version of Fred Astaire’s “I Won’t Dance” on the streets of New York which is fun in that old school Hollywood kind of way.

I find it impossible to really recommend Step Up 3-D because so much of the movie doesn’t work. Yet I also have to admit that if you enjoyed the first two films, you probably will enjoy this one as well. It is better than most of the other dance movies out there - but I am still waiting for one of these films to truly step up (sorry, I couldn’t resist) and work not just in the dance numbers but in all scenes. Step Up 3-D only gets half of that right.

No comments:

Post a Comment