So I have two left feet, but that doesn't mean I can't get to enjoy contemporary dance movies centered on the street dance variety, where groups or crews battle it out with moves that's a pretty mix of breakdancing, and just about anything that allows one to express aggression quite keenly in dance battles. But if I recall correctly, the first Step Up, which launched Channing Tatum to some prominence, didn't begin like that, instead it focused on the usual storyline of a clash of philosophies that ultimately led to an amalgamation with romance thrown in for good measure.
But with Step Up 2 the Streets, and other films such as Make It Happen, it seems like the global influence of street dancing has found its way to film, and while it's getting increasingly difficult to keep churning out films involving such dances (let's get real, the storylines cannot be anything that different) its popularity meant that it has a ready target audience eager to lap up and appreciate the innovativeness of any newly created dance moves or their variations. What more, with 3D technology becoming a recent trend (and also making a huge dent on box office receipts), Street Dance 3D had fired the first salvo, which the Americans have responded with the third film aptly titled Step Up 3D, if you chose the 3D version.
I must admit I'm getting sick of all the 3D hype, so have opted to watch this in 2D instead, which was equally entertaining. Of course you can see the specially crafted moments designed specifically for the 3D viewers, such as Icee (yeah, remember that drink?) becomes beautifully wasted over an air vent, and the many dance moves that start to become more in your face, with kicks aimed towards the camera, and so do various hand movements. Inter-titles that can be done without also found its way into the film with 3D effects written all over it.
The worst part with 3D ironically turns out to be the rather flat presentation, with the camera aimed squarely at the performers and rarely fluidly moving to capture the best angles of an ensemble dance performance. It stays in front so that the dancers can inch slowly toward the camera, and I think director Jon Chu (who also did the second Step Up film) really had little idea how to best utilize technology available, and found himself constraint and restricted during the major dance sequences, which is a pity. Some moments of dancing brilliance got captured right, such as when two characters dance down a busy street in one continuous take, and that one I salute the performers Adam G Sevani (reprising his role from Step Up 2) and Alyson Stoner (reprising her role from Step Up) in executing a playfully perfect routine involving detailed choreography utilizing common objects around them.
As mentioned, don't expect too much from a storyline involving a struggling filmmaker cum dancer whose inheritance of an old warehouse serves to be a refuge for his crew of down and out dancing talent who call themselves the Pirates. Luke (Rick Malambri) believes that there are those who can dance, and those born to dance, and he's out recruiting the latter group to join him and fulfill their dreams. Of course there are rival crews with dastardly rich boys out to destroy Luke's ideals and demolish that bastion of United Nations friendliness, and it is up to Moose (Adam G Sevani) from the previous Step Up film, to provide that extra oomph in the Pirates' dance battle with arch enemies the Samurais.
It doesn't take too long for the first dance sequence to break out, and some of the best bits involve the impromptu challenges, character introductory montages and the training montages as the Pirates undergo rehearsals of their own. In some ways though the dance battles in the films do seem like a let down when compared to other dance movies, but thankfully the final battle, the creme de la creme, prove to be more than worthwhile for its very creative blend of the young and old, and a laser light show that seems to be inspired by Tron. It's not something other films managed to do, and if this was a battle between the dance films, then Step Up 3 gets my clear vote.
Don't expect any great acting here, but great dancing, which will inevitably bring fans to the cinemas in droves. Keep any eye out if the leads here do make it big, such as Malambri who does seem to be like a Channing Tatum clone, and Adam G Sevani does look like a dead ringer to, albeit an even younger version, of Michael Cera, but perhaps with a more talented potential.