Rated PG-13 for: Brief Strong Language
Starring: Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner
Written by: Amy Andleson/Emily Meyer
Directed by: Jon Chu
Readers and friends, I am caught in a quandry; Step Up 3D is not a good movie by any real standard. Characters aren’t fleshed out, the story makes no sense (maybe I just don’t know the dance gang underground as much as others do), and it’s both badly written and badly acted. However, when getting out of the theater I was pretty satisfied with my experience because despite all of that, the dancing was pretty solid and it was so ridiculously bad that I ended up really having fun with it.
OH CRAP, THE REVIEW! Sorry, I got distracted trying to both pop and lock. Here’s the plot: Moose (Adam G. Sevani, returning from Step Up 2 The Streets) and his best (female) friend Camille (Alyson Stoner, also returning) are going to New York University to start their brand new adult life. Moose has decided to give up dancing in favor of Engineering, but is drawn back in when he defeats one of the members of the evil dance gang The Samurai. Luke (Rick Malambri) catches this and invites Moose to join his own dance gang, The Pirates (okay, Pirates Vs. Samurai is kind-of clever), who live in a crazy two floor dance studio/loft thing. The Pirates are training for the biggest worldwide dance crew showdown in history, the prize being 100 grand. Luke wants the money to keep the place from being sold at a public auction, something former Pirate and now Samurai Julien (Joe Slaughter) would love so he could buy it himself using his trust fund money (never trust the rich and pompous). Luke also recruits the mysterious beauty Natalie (Sharni Vinson) who shows up at Pirates HQ looking for a place to stay. Obviously, they fall for each other. Moose tries to balance his school life, his dance life, and his friendship/obviously somewhat romantic relationship with Camille, while Luke explores his relationship with Natalie and his desire to become a filmmaker. In between all of this, we got some sweet dancing and some of the most useless (in a good way) 3D ever committed to film.
When thinking of movies that needed to be in 3D, the third installment in the Step Up franchise was not at the top of the list. Or in the middle. Actually, I don’t think it was even on there. But hey, a gimmick is a gimmick and Step Up 3D fully embraces it. The dance sequences are filled with people punching and kicking and hip hopifying right in your face and characters do illogical things in order to implement the 3D (a good example being the main love interests, Luke and Natalie, blowing around their Icee by use of a vent…no reason for it, but there it is). I’m slowly coming around to 3D and oddly enough a movie like this helps the transition; while Avatar takes it seriously and tries to give it legitimacy, you’ve got Step Up 3D create dumb generic situations that are such obvious ploys that they work and they help to remind you that at its heart, 3D is kind of ridiculous at its core. I’m sure James Cameron would not approve, but I do; while it’s stupid, Step Up 3D hightens the experience by way of stupidity and for that, I give it some respect.
Acting-wise, this also doesn’t exactly cut the mustard. Moose and Camille are good (Moose is actually my favorite character from the series…I just admitted that didn’t I?), but everyone else is wooden or just plain bad. Understandable though; most of them are legitimate dancers, not actors, and I doubt that Jon Chu was having them read Hamlet at their auditions. The writing itself is absolutely wretched, with stupid lines in abundance (none I can remember due to stupid leaving my head the minute I got out) and some weird plot twists and turns and all around “WTF” moments (during a Moose/Camille dance scene, Moose steals a hat from someone for the scene, but never gives it back and it’s never mentioned again).
You don’t care about the acting or the plot though…well at least you shouldn’t. The Step Up franchise is about the dancing, and I admit, that stuff was insanely well choreographed. It’s so impressive, you can’t help but get envious of the people who can do that. The one that sticks out has to be the robot guy. Usually, the robot is something kind of lame, but this guy seriously looked like a stop motion animation in human form. Freaked me out.
I can’t just rate Step Up 3D as a movie, because I feel like that’s unfair; either you want to see the dancing and don’t mind the stupidity or you’re going to go in and pick that movie apart/ask for a refund. As a movie, it sucks; while entertaining in a really cheesy bad sort of way, it’s filled with some horrible acting and dialogue, takes forever to end, and the 3D is pretty much useless save for gimmicky reasons. For a dance movie, though, it’s damned impressive. It isn’t as good as the first two (yes, I can say that from first hand knowledge), but it’s a fun addition to the series.
As a Straight Up Movie:
As a Step Up Movie: