Step Up 3D No Average Dance

Some of you probably know by now that I’m not very favorable of 3D.  It started out as a gimmick, was revived as a gimmick, and will die as a gimmick.  Still, when I saw the 2D previews for Step Up 3D, I saw potential for some impressive use of the novelty technology.  So can a little street dancing and 3D make a good marriage on film?  It was actually the wife of Why So Blu guru Brian White who said of the Step Up franchise, “You really don’t see them for the story.  It’s more for the dancing.” I’m going to be straight with you up front about the Step Up series.  Before Friday, I had never seen any of the three.  As I write this, well, my Step Up virginity just went away.

Directed by Jon Chu, also the mastermind behind the second film in the trilogy, Step Up 3D brings back the bounce-enhanced talents of Adam Sevani and pairs him up with Step Up newcomer, Alyson Stoner.  The best friends are starting their freshman year at NYU where Moose (Sevani) has a more difficult time settling in to the classroom scene and leaving dance behind than that of his female counterpart.  Moose’s magnetic draw to the freestyle art form gets him in trouble on day 1 of campus life where he meets up with one chiseled and capable dance ringleader by the name of Luke (Rick Malambri).  Luke watches over a nightclub whose profits support the loft above which a team of dancers call home.  Known simply as the Pirates, the limber group prepares for an upcoming competition against cross-town rivals, the Samurais.

It isn’t too long before the cuteness of Aussie-native Sharni Vincent (Natalie) enters the fray, capturing the attention of Luke.  With video cam in hand, the eager club owner tracks down the temptress and offers her a place to stay for the night.  The cohesiveness of the Pirates is apparent, as is the growing love connection between Natalie and Luke.  Meanwhile, Moose is trying to stabilize his Engineering major and desire to dance while Luke’s loft and club are about to be foreclosed on.  The story has been done before in a variety of other versions and gets a little stale at times.  The acting is nothing to plant a lasting memory of textbook dialogue, but my oh my, the dancing…the dancing is nothing short of spectacular.

What else can I say, but Brian’s wife was right?  The dancing is beyond a doubt the film’s strong point and Director Chu knows it.  The entertainment value of the story and the acting is just enough to get by with enough dance interspersed to keep your attention.  Add that aspect of dance in there and your attention isn’t just glued to the screen, it’s cemented.  Hip-hip.  Pop-lock.  Breakdance.  Even a little tango for good measure.  Sick.  It’s just sick, sick, sick, insane, ‘don’t stop and you don’t quit, you gotta keep on til ya do, do, do it like this’, wicked off the hook dancing.  The music is urban to the core and nothing less than the perfect fit to movements on screen.  The performers were simply phenomenal.  These were dancers who act, not actors who dance.

So you may be wondering how the 3D effect stacks up in this work.  For starters, it is utilized with much more flare that isn’t as visible in a number of the other productions that tried it, save for Avatar and Alice in Wonderland.  The outdoor daylight scenes were almost fake in appearance at times, seemingly putting the stars of Step Up 3D against a super-imposed backdrop of New York City.  The scenes containing the heartbeat of the film, the dancing, looked incredible in 3D.  It was literally in your face with fast-flying limbs and aggressive maneuvers closing in on the audience from the front while the bass thumped from the sides and behind.  Aside from being in the loft or on the stage with any dance crew in this film, it just doesn’t get any closer than this.

Like Alice in Wonderland, it will be difficult to make the transition to 2D for this film when it comes out on disc since it set such a precendent in 3D.  Nevertheless, Step Up 3D combines a little drama, romance, and heartbreak, and mixes it with a whole lot of “hey let’s win the dance tournament and pay back the bank” throw-down.  I really wish I could swear here because I can’t accurately convey just how damn amazing the final dance sequence is.  Somebody should give the choreographers and performers free cars or the key to the city or something.  Talk about mind-blowing!  If you enjoy dance on any level and do not get slightest sensation of that sugary juice known as adrenaline, then check your pulse.  You might be dead.

Step Up 3D gets a B+ overall with a C for acting and story and an H for ‘honors’ in the dance category and pure entertainment factor.  I cannot say enough how incredible the movements and choreography are in this film.  You could throw out the story and I would still be as happy as a pig in mud with this movie.  Now where were my shoes?  I’ve got some steps to work on.


7 Responses to “Step Up 3D No Average Dance”

  1. Brian White

    Hmm… Why do I have a feeling that I will be seeing this over the weekend? 🙂

  2. Brian White

    By the time this hits Blu-ray there may be a “real” version of it. The question is… will it be worth the 2K to replace your equipment to see it in 3D.

  3. Gregg

    You know, if there is any one film out there to make me upgrade my hardware, this would be it. However, that’s just in theory. I simply cannot justify spending thousands to do that for this one movie, as bad ass as it may be. The day I bag this on Blu-ray will be bittersweet. I’ll have the movie but without all the pizzazz the 3D version supplied.

  4. Gerard Iribe

    I’ll never see this.

    I’ll just youtube clips of Beat Street.

  5. Gregg

    Your loss.

  6. Brian White

    Oh great! That’s another movie Gerard won’t see with me in the theater 🙁

    @Gregg… I don’t ever foresee myself, at least I hope, dumping money into 3D equipment here at home.

  7. Brian White

    I saw it yesterday… I actually liked it!

    It had heart!

    I was glad to see the moppy haired kid from the 2nd one back as a lead this time around.

    The 3D was good too! And oh yeah… there was some dancing too.