Step Up 3D. Starring Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Sharni Vinson and Alyson Stoner. Directed by John Chu. Rated M (infrequent coarse language). 107 mins.
Strictly for the young brigade, this is the third Step Up film built around the “art” of street dancing, which appears to be the vogue in urban USA. In an earlier time, the moves the kids execute would have been covered by the term gymnastics, not dance — but then, in those days they didn’t have that thumping, relentless beat to get them going.
The 3D filming process gives the dance an extra kick, if you’ll pardon the expression, and it is certainly worth seeing the 3D version because generally the illusion of depth is effectively employed by director John Chu and his cinematographer, Ken Seng, and at times is quite arresting. The end credits are particularly impressive because the inevitable early departers seem to walk out of the cinema underneath one of the dancers as he performs some dexterous hand movements.
3D enhances the dance effects, but it cannot do much to help the tired old plot and dialogue, in which clichés reign supreme, or the bland performances. In summary, the film is about Luke (Rick Malambri), a would-be filmmaker who has made his New York warehouse space available to a group of dance-crazy kids who call themselves The Pirates and who have their sights set on winning the $100,000 first prize at the World Jam Championships (that’s fancy footwork folks, nothing to do with strawberry conserve). Luke needs the prize money to pay the rent arrears.
Their hated rivals are the black-clad Samurai, led by Julien (Joe Slaughter), a former ally of Luke’s who is determined to defeat the Pirates and strip Luke of his apartment.
The main sub-plot concerns Moose (Adam G. Sevani), a nerdy NYU freshman who rather surprisingly is a gifted dancer but has promised his parents and girlfriend, Camille (Alyson Stoner), that he will forsake dance to concentrate on an engineering degree (which he doesn’t do ’cos Luke really needs him to beat the Samurai).
And then there is the romantic interest, Natalie (Shami Vinson), a lithe young dancer who catches Luke’s eye and whom he persuades to join the Pirates team, not knowing (shhhh!) that she is really the sister of the rival, Julien.
The storyline is feeble, but nobody will be going to see Step Up 3D for the plot. The attraction is the dancing and it is certainly full of vim and vigour, if not form. Everybody does their party pieces with gusto and the best bits are assembled in the editing room. No need for a choreographer credit in this dance movie.
Universal Out August 5
Mr Jim Murphy is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.