Mark Reviews Movies

STEP UP 3D

1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Jon Chu

Cast: Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner, Keith Stallworth, Facundo Lombard, Martín Lombard, Joe Slaughter

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language)

Running Time: 1:47

Release Date: 8/6/10


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Review by Mark Dujsik | August 5, 2010

If there's one thing that doesn't read that well in stereoscopic 3-D, it's excessive motion. Step Up 3D, then, has made the right decision to make its pointless third entry in an entirely pointless series even more utterly, incontrovertibly pointless. Even the dancing now—the only point to the movies, really—has essentially been written off. The audience doesn't really need to see the actors dance without the obstruction of inherent motion blur, director Jon Chu seems to admit, so instead, here are some bubbles. Don't they look like they're blowing off the screen?

Step Up 3D is also being shown normally (presumably with the "D" eliminated from the title, although perhaps leaving it in for hope of nabbing any repeat viewers who do want to see those bubbles appear to hover off the screen), although so much has been tailored to the cash-robbing, deforming, artless device, it is unfair to discuss the movie without talking about it in terms of its 3-D.

This is the kind of gimmicky moviemaking designed for 3-D, and for which there is really no discernable reason or entertainment. Bubbles, frozen drinks, hands, flakes of polystyrene, the master of ceremonies' staff, water, and many other things are shot coming directly at the camera. The staging is completely flat, because then people can walk toward the camera and seem to be popping off the screen. Every background looks like a terrible green screen effect, and the actors take on the guise of cardboard cutouts. There's even a damn laser light show during the climactic dance battle.

The story moves away from the arts school of its first two installments and to the Big Apple, where Moose (Adam G. Sevani from number two) and Camille (Alyson Stoner from number one) are going to NYU. Moose is done with that dancing thing, although he really isn't. Within minutes of arriving on campus, he finds an impromptu dance competition and "wins" against a member of the local street dancing gang the Samurai.

Luke (Rick Malambri) sees Moose dance and wants the kid to join his local street dancing gang called the Pirates. Luke owns a building, inherited from his dead, formerly dancing parents, where he takes in dancing strays of all styles from the streets to form a dance commune and runs a club downstairs.

The plot: They're months behind on the mortgage payments, meaning the bank will soon foreclose on the building and put it up for auction, but now that Moose has defeated a member of the Samurai and joined them, it might be just what they need to win the big dance competition and the prize money to buy the building. Luke says this to Moose, straight-faced, without a hint of irony, and with clear contempt for the intelligence of the audience.

Luke's crew consists of Moose, the funny-'cause-they're-from-Europe Santiago twins (Facundo and Martín Lombard), the somewhere-from-Africa Jacob (Keith Stallworth), the mysterious Natalie (Sharni Vinson), and a group of others who hang around in the background. There's also a villain in the form of Julien (Joe Slaughter), who used to dance with the Pirates before betraying them and now runs the Samurai and is out for revenge. No, that doesn't make any sense; try not to think about it too much.

Luke likes Natalie, who thinks he should follow his dream of making a narcissistic documentary about how awesome he is. Camille likes Moose as more than a friend, but he's too busy with his dancing to notice. Luke and Natalie do some freestyle parkour to train, while Moose and Camille have the only scene with the slightest hint of inspiration. In it, they dance around a New York street to a remix of "I Won't Dance" in the fashion of an old musical while the neighbors become annoyed.

The rest is total bunk, whether it's repeated statements of plot points, mandatory internal conflicts, or reappearances of cast members from the previous movie. The dance sequences, beyond being stifled by 3-D, make no sense as a contest. Everything is so observably choreographed (even how members of opposing squads interact with the Pirates) that there's no sense of competition, and no attempt is made to bring in any tension beyond that.

Between 3-D and regular viewing, the only way to see Step Up 3D is not to.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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