Experienced dancer and
debut feature director Jon Chu attempts to immerse a captive audience
into his vision of a semi-fantastical dancers’ utopia populated by
street-wise gyrating bodies. Luke (a requisitely eye-pleasing Rick
Malambri) has been left a massive warehouse space in New York by his
dancer parents. Determined to extend their legacy, he has made it a
welcoming residential “creative space” and “crib” with rehearsal space,
a club and bunk-beds.
first-day college orientation Moose (Adam G. Sevani, who was 15 in
Step Up 2: The Streets) tells his parents his unproductive life of
dancing is over and he is ready to settle down for promising adventure
electronic engineering. Of course, a chance dance-off in the park is too
hard to resist. Moose outshined a local star and is chased by his gang
and the police into the deft hands of Luke, who rescues him and quickly
ensnares him for the Pirate’s dance cause. If they win $100,000 at a
competition, the bank won’t foreclose on their bohemian haven, and Moose
might just be the one talented enough to help them out.
becomes smitten with another newcomer, the svelte dancer Natalie (Sharni
Vinson) for whom he provides shelter. She slowly decides to train for
the competition and gains an insight into Luke’s budding filmic talents
and ambitions. The rival clans will not make it easy for the Pirates to
win the money they so sorely need; nor will the fiendish machinations of
other parties like college lessons and exams!
found Step Up 3D preposterous, and not just because everyone
wears the slightly comical glasses in the cinema. There is something
perverse about sitting voyeuristically still in a darkened room with
dozens others while impossibly sculpted bodies writhe rhythmically for
our viewing pleasure. And while this is pretty much the transaction of
ballet, that music is nicer: it’s what we expect in that medium
of expression. In a film, we usually expect plot, acting and dialogue
which are cohesive and competent at least. When they are exceptional, we
have an exceptional film.
Step Up 3D is not one. If I described a movie with a bad plot,
filler scenes and dialogue which you can skip through for the “good
bits”, you’d say it was porn. Chu gives us the dancer’s
equivalent. There are many stunning, elaborate pieces of “urban”
choreography and music to match. This would rightly attract an
appreciative interest from a niche audience: but to foist it on the
mainstream by tarting it up with a tissue-thin
love-and-revenge-plus-coming-of-age tale is insulting.
are talented dancers first and actors a far second. It’s hard to
determine which broke down more in the big ballroom confrontation scene
(you’ll know if you see it): the writing or the delivery. At any rate,
it was palpable, profound bathos and the audience reacted the only way
we could: laughter. The warehouse is also a hard-to-believe glimpse into
life in dancer commune, an escape for those who’ve give up searching for
are also some bizarre optical aberrances relating to the 3D. A lot of
the to-camera tracking shots exaggerate the dancer’s head and squeeze
their body: my friend called it “lizarding” and you’ll see for yourself
what I mean. There is also some strobing, meaning the movements which
are too quick or fluid for the film seem unnatural. Visuals to look
forward to are the chains and water-water-everywhere bits.
imagine this would have very limited interest to anyone out of high
school or those not contaminated by the hip hop lifestyle.