Published Aug 05, 2010The third instalment in the Step Up quasi-trilogy came at a good time, benefiting from a snazzy name ― see what they did there? ― and ever-better 3D technology. Sure, the dialogue moves between laughable and douche-chilly, the plot lines flit about pointlessly and the acting is atrocious, save for series veterans Adam Sevani and Alyson Stoner, but the inventive, often thrilling dance scenes largely compensate.
Step Up 3D follows Luke Katcher (Ashton Kutcher ringer Rick Malambri), who owns a dance commune and just wants a place for talented misfits to hang out. He's more dance pimp than beneficent guru, but he does brood and sheepishly make documentaries, so he must be all right.
When a rival crew threatens his cooperative via slick moves and financial superiority, he enlists dorky wunderkind Moose (Sevani) and pretty newcomer Natalie (Sharni Vinson) to help his team win the big competition and save the day. The plot sounds a lot like Ski School and the film's about as deep (albeit, not as funny). Still, no one straps on the 3D glasses to see dramatic tension.
While the hackneyed script gives little to connect to, the competition component lets director Jon Chu and choreographer Hi-Hat play with action tropes, creating some breathtakingly beautiful and exciting images along the way.
The 3D ups the ante, with spat water, blown powder and flying bodies jumping off the screen. Also, the dance scenes are imbued with all of the creativity and fun the screenplay lacks. Yes, some of the effects ― notably a flying Slurpee romantic moment ― are shoehorned in, but they still manage to be novel fun.
Whenever the writhing stops, which happens too frequently, momentum grinds to a halt and dance-will-save-the-world clichés return en masse. Though, with a slew of disparate and presumably accidental allusions, from The Warriors and Fight Club to Hook and Romeo and Juliet (look for a brief repurposing of Act I, Scene V), playing spot-the-reference sufficiently kills time between toe-tapping. (Touchstone)