Director: Jon Chu
Cast: Harry Shum Jr., Adam G. Sevani, Sharni
Vinson, Rick Malambri
RunTime: 1 hr 48 mins
Released By: Shaw
Official Website: http://www.stepupmovie.com/
Opening Day: 19 August 2010
filmmakers who dazzled you with box-office hits STEP UP and
STEP UP 2: THE STREETS reunite to bring you more STEP UP…now
in 3-D! In STEP UP 3, the story of urban street dancing goes
global with an electrifying new story of hearts, dreams and
bodies in motion, made even more thrilling with cutting-edge
LUKE is an orphaned street dancer, desperate to avoid getting
evicted from his only home: a rundown New York warehouse that’s
a haven for young dancers from around the world. This de facto
family has a dance crew, the House of Pirates. In order for
the crew to survive, they must defeat their longtime rivals,
the House of Samurai, at the upcoming World Jam Competition,
where the best crews in the world compete for a huge cash
prize. We follow Luke through the city’s diverse underground
dance scene, scouting new talent to help the Pirates win World
Jam. At last, he finds the two dancers he needs: NATALIE,
a mysterious street dancer, and MOOSE, the comedic sidekick
from the franchise’s second film, who’s now a freshman at
Unbeknownst to Luke, Natalie has a secret that threatens to
destroy their budding romance, and everything the Pirates
have built. The Pirates put together a killer dance routine?only
to have it stolen by the Samurai. With time running out, Moose
turns to his old MSA crew for help. Can the Pirates and the
MSA crew pull together a new dance number at the last minute?
And will it be good enough to beat the world’s best street
How many times can you tell the same story? In the case of Step Up, the answer apparently is three. From supporting actor in “Step Up 2 The Streets”, Moose (Adam G. Sevani) is here brought front and centre as the New York University undergrad torn between two worlds- dancing which he loves, and engineering which his parents want him to love. The choice is a no-brainer really.
From the get-go, Moose inadvertently challenges bad boy crew the Samurais and instantly gets the attention of Luke (Rick Malambri), the aspiring filmmaker-dancer who runs an old Brooklyn riverside factory to provide room, board and dance space to a group of street dancers who call themselves the House of Pirates. The plot too holds no surprises. Luke is months behind on his mortgage payments and needs the Pirates to win the hiphop dance competition World Jam so he can stave off imminent foreclosure. Enter Natalie, a mysterious street dancer, he falls in love with, who turns out to have a secret that will break his heart.
But all will be good by the time the Pirates challenge their villainous rival crew the Samurai at the finals of World Jam. Yes, like most dance movies, there are dramatic clichés aplenty in Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer’s script. Of course, that isn’t and shouldn’t be the reason why you want to watch this movie, so set your expectations right before you step into “Step Up 3D”. The real show here is the high-energy dancing delivered with an extra dimension of life in 3D- and on those points, director Jon M. Chu excels quite spectacularly.
Every bit of dancing boasts the perfect combination of inventive production design, nifty cinematography and sharp choreography set to lively hip-hop tunes. The obligatory rehearsals set in Luke’s warehouse with padded walls, vintage boomboxes, and a dance studio make good use of the confined space to integrate street dancing with parkour. Two open-air dance sequences on the streets of New York take full advantage of their location to showcase dynamic moves. In particular, the one with Moose and BFF Camille (Alyson Stoner from the first film) set to a fresh spin of Fred Astaire’s “I Won’t Dance” done in a single take is refreshingly Gene Kelly-light and blithe.
The dance battles on stage between the various crews are differentiated by theme to make each of them memorable in their own way. Reminiscent of the climactic battle in the earlier film, there is a showdown set on a flooded dance stage when Moose busts a water pipe on the side while cycling in- absurd yes but absolutely cool onscreen. The Pirates’ final dance sequence where they battle with the Samurais is astounding, complete with props, lights and some irresistibly cute children.
Complimenting the well-choreographed and fast-paced moves is Jon Chu’s firm grasp of the 3D medium. The 3D here isn’t done on the cheap in post-production and it certainly shows in how the movie places the viewer right into the dance sequences. Of course, dancing itself is a good fit for the technology, but here it is used to give the youthful exuberance and high spirits of the performers an added zest- though the film does indulge occasionally in gimmicky like bubbles popping or balloons flying away.
The Step Up franchise never existed for more than as a display of awesome dancing and talented dancers- once again, these are the reasons “Step Up 3D” works despite the clunky plot, perfunctory narrative and uneven acting. The acting here is first and foremost dancing and this instalment finally puts aside all pretensions to acknowledge this front and centre with its fly-on-the-wall interviews with real-life dancers talking about their passion. That’s where its focus should be- and “Step Up 3D” is what you’ll come to expect and want out of a dance movie.
(It's always been about the dancing- and "Step Up 3D" uses the additional dimension to deliver where it matters)
Review by Gabriel Chong