DIRECTOR: Jon Chu
To start with, if I never see Rick Malambri, the so called star of this film, again, I will die a happy man. This lad cannot act for toffee! It is actually bordering on criminal that a movie should be released with such a performance.
Anyway, the third of the “Step Up” franchise began with a sequence in which the main cast discuss what dance meant to them. Whether this was in character or not isn’t really the point and it’s very nice, but ultimately, out of place. This was meant to be a meaningful series of monologues about the importance of dance to dancers of all walks of life, but well, this film’s strengths hardly lay in its narrative…
This was an exploitative 3D movie, and if you ignore the, at times, ludicrous attempts at acting, story telling and emotiveness, and take from this a spectacular and fun 3D dance extravaganza, then you you won’t be disappointed.
This is proof positive that 3D is failing as a narrative tool. Even films such “Toy Story 3”, which was beautiful to watch and had some the best 3D to date, was failed to be enhanced by the added dimension. “Toy Story 3” was simply a brilliant and beautifully crafted film, from its inception to completion.
But “Step Up 3D” was so utterly enjoyable because of its third dimension, its hard to quantify. The acting, as I’ve said was rubbish almost all the way through, with exception of Moose (Adam G. Sevani) & Camille (Alyson Stoner), who still only gave a standard performance, as was the character direction and the story, which seemed to simply consist of EVERY cliché EVER thought of and acted. Almost every line of dialogue was lifted from every other dance or teen film which had come before it. But then there was the dance…
Now, I’m hardly a dance or musical fan as such, but I can certainly appreciate a good show, and this was something else. In the terms of dance and choreography, this was a step up from the previous two. They were bold, ambitious and engaging without being loud or crass.
And this is where 3D comes in. This film has to stand and proof that 3D has its place, and dance, horror and animation may well be it. It can be a lot of fun to watch and in cases like this is can add so much to performances, which is surly the point to any format. There were lots of instances of hands coming out of the screen, as well as bubbles, water and in a more ludicrous scene, a slushy!
Other worthy mentions were the interesting references to ZALTAN from “Big”, as well as an attempt at a musical number from the genre’s 1940’s heyday. I liked this even though it was a failure, but I liked the sentiment and it clearly demonstrated the all round skills of two of the better leads, again, Sevani and Stoner.
All in all, the Dance, and defiantly the 3D dance saved this film from absolute obscurity. This is defiantly one of the best and most convincing 3D films since “Avatar”, and may well stand as an example as to where this format’s natural home lies.
So in summary: Acting was beyond rubbish, Jon Chu’s direction of the characters and narrative was poor, but 3D dancing rocks!!! I highly recommend this in 3D, but it should still hold up well in 2D if dance is your thing…
N.B. This film has lost nothing since I originally wrote this review after the 3D screening. Now having seen the Blu-ray in 2D, this still a vibrant and well choreographed modern musical and in spite of it’s clichéd script and having nothing more than a plot‘line’ rather than a fleshed out narrative, this is a fun way to spend 90 minutes.