Step Up 3D (2010)

reviewed by
Steve Rhodes

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2010 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****):  * 1/2

STEP UP 3D is one D too many. This gimmick-laden film is filled with clichés in the production as well as the script. In almost every dance sequence, the dancers go out of their way to stick their arms and fingers out as far as possible into the camera in order to create the maximum in-your-face 3D effects.

While studios like Pixar are careful not to abuse the mechanics of 3D, STEP UP 3D tries its best to exaggerate the medium's effects, which distracts dramatically from the dancing. And the dancing is the only possible reason to see this movie, since the writing is hackneyed and the actors, while good dancers, haven't much of a clue as to how to create charismatic characters. To be fair, however, the trite script is hopelessly filled with characters that just aren't worth caring about.

Sometimes, while viewing the movie, I took off my 3-D glasses in order to see better the quality of the dancing. The blurry images I saw suggested that the dancing may have been quite good. But it would be impossible to watch the entire movie without 3-D glasses, unless you are willing to suffer through significant eyestrain. And, even if you were willing to the bear the eye pain, your brain would have to endure the sting of the plot which goes from minimal to stupid to ridiculous.

While the film generally varied from a waste of a time to a frustrating attempt to watch some apparently fine dancers, it does have its moments. In one of the better dance numbers, young lovers Moose (Adam G. Sevani) and Camille (Alyson Stoner) do a routine reminiscent of one of the old routines from a Gene Kelly movie. It is a wonderful, light-hearted moment in a story that mainly portrays dance as athletic competition. In fact, much of the movie plays like director Jon Chu was trying to remake FIGHT CLUB as a dance-based musical.

Only one part of the film never ceased to please me. Twitch, from "So You Think You Can Dance," had the heart and charisma that was so sorely lacking in the rest of the cast. I'd love to see a 2D film with a decent script that featured nothing but the excellent dancers from that TV series. Now, that would be a movie really worth the price of admission.

STEP UP 3D runs a long 1:47. It is rated PG-13 for "brief strong language" and would be acceptable for kids of all ages.

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, August 6, 2010. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC theaters, the Cinemark theaters and the Camera Cinemas.

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