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Movie review: Step Up 3D

August 8, 2010

No one is going to go see Step Up 3D for a creative plot, but if you love dance, you’ll truly enjoy this movie. The first dance movie made in 3D and the third installment in the Step Up film franchise, Step Up 3D showcased some incredible hip-hop and breakdancing. Viewers of So You Think You Can Dance were exposed to repeated promotions for the movie, and it was enough to get me in the theater. So what was great and what was lacking? To break it down:

Plot: B- Surprisingly, there was actually a fair amount going on plot-wise. None of it was particularly original and most of it was predictable, but there was more going on here than in the average romantic or buddy comedy. The plot centered around Luke, the leader of a close-knit dance crew; Natalie, the new girl in the crew; Moose, a college freshman trying to balance school and dance; and Camille, Moose’s best friend. The crew, of course, has to battle with a rival dance crew to win a contest that has big implications for their future. Light romance and conflict ensue.

Characters: C+ The characters are pretty flat and stereotypical, without much development. There’s the usual business about pursuing your dream and figuring out what really matters. Luke happens to have a passion for making film, and his films allow us to see glimpses of the dancers’ thoughts on what dance means to them and where they come from in documentary style, providing some of the most real emotional moments in the film. Some of these supporting characters, while providing comic relief and more dancing, seem more real than the leads because they’re not forced into a predictable plot role – they seem to be appearing as themselves. The main characters are likable and provide a good-enough vehicle to move the film along, but are ultimately forgettable, blending into a long line of dance-loving protagonists.

Dialogue: C There were moments in this movie when I would literally turn to my friend and whisper the next line before the character said it. Like the plot and characters, the dialogue was utterly predictable and forgettable in its over-the-top cheesiness and “believe-in-yourself-ness.” I was often laughing at the film instead of with it, but the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, either, so the cheesiness often becomes funny instead of merely groan-worthy.

Dancing: A+ Finally, the reason I paid $13 to go see this film in 3D. The movie featured a huge cast of over 250 superb dancers. There were incredible hip-hop dance sequences by some amazing dancers. And not only were street dancing and breaking featured, but there was a tango sequence and a fun dance reminiscent of the famous Singing in the Rain number. Fans of So You Think You Can Dance (and another popular TV musical show) will recognize familiar faces. The quality and originality of the dancing in this film were simply amazing, far better than any other recent dance film.

Visual Effects: A The 3D in this film was very realistic, making the dancers and environment pop off the screen as elbows and knees were popping and locking. Only a few times did I notice that some aspect of the environment or a particular dance move was done in a certain way only because of the 3D, like an awful lot of arms pointing straight at you. But short of seeing dance in person, seeing dance in 3D is as good as it gets. Dance is movement, and 3D enhances movement and body positions. I think the scope and sheer number of dancers would be a little lost in a traditional flat film. The final dance sequence had some highly inventive lighting, provoking genuine “oohs” and “aahs” when combined with the dance moves and 3D effects.

Bottom line: if you are a fan of any kind of dance or a fan of 3D movies, go see this film! You will not be disappointed by these aspects, and you might find yourself laughing and enjoying the cheesy plot in site of yourself.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. JBC permalink
    August 8, 2010 3:23 pm

    I am glad the dancing was as exceptionally great as anticipated! I enjoy your reviews of all things dance!

  2. August 8, 2010 11:15 pm

    I’ve never watched SYTYCD, but I used to watch America’s Best Dance Crew and loved it! I am always in awe of people who can get there bodies to do these amazing things. My body would just say “eh, I don’t think so!” I’m pretty sure that I won’t be checking this out in theater but, thanks to your review, it may become a netflix or redbox pick.

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