Step Up has taken its franchise 3D. But is it born from a boom box (#BFABB)?
Step Up 3D follows the story of Moose (Adam Sevani), the geeky character from Step Up 2 The Streets, in his freshman year at New York University. Typically on his first day on campus his clumsiness lands him in a battle against Kid Darkness, played by none other than B-Boy Cloud, whose dance resumé includes backing dancer for Madonna!
Moose winning is a little unlikely, but this is Hollywood, and the first thing you notice about Moose’s development is his dancing has improved immensely – no longer limited to just nu-styles his dancing has taken an acrobatic turn for the better, cricketing off tables and even bathroom sinks!
Spotted by Luke (Rick Malambri) and his roving video camera he’s taken back to his apartment and introduced to his crew, The Pirates. Known as The Vault, Luke’s apartment doubles up as a training spot, aka The House of Pirates, and a night club – just about the coolest house anyone could ever dream up, complete with a wall of boom boxes and a video editing suite!
The trouble is the rent on the apartment is five months late, just one of the predictable obstacles to overcome in a dance movie dating back to Breaking 2: Electric Boogaloo.
With Moose’s link from Step Up 2 The Streets means not too long is spent on introducing characters. Fans of the franchise will recognise Moose’s characteristics while new cast members are introduced by opening the film to clips from taken Luke’s video collection.
Every dance film needs a rivalry, a bitter one at that, and that comes in the form of the Samurai crew. Moose’s victory against Kid Darkness early on in the film opens the floodgates for emotions to clash between Luke and arch rival Julian, who isn’t too pleased about Moose smoking one of his best dancers in public, or how close Luke gets to Natalie (Sharni Vinson, who some might recognise from Home and Away). There is of course a twist here that I won’t give away, and it’s an unexpected one at that.
The good thing about Step Up 3D is guys can relate to Luke enough to not hate him while girls can take the opportunity to swoon at him – he’s an Abercrombie and Fitch model in real life. He’s the right balance of looks for the lead male in a glossy movie such as this, but minus the arrogance or attitude that makes male watchers despise Channing Tatum as Tyler in the original Step Up.
It is in fact Natalie that sometimes proves worthy of cringe. The pace at which she goes from liking to falling in love with Luke is rushed along in several scenes before they kiss (again, not a spoiler as it’s common practice in dance movies!)
The standard of dancing has really stepped up (sorry) for this sequel. With Step Up 2 the Streets under his belt, director Jon Chu was able to rope in the likes of b-boys Cloud, Flea Rock (both from Skill Methodz, 2009’s UK B-Boy World Championships World Champions), Spee-D, Madd Chadd, Flipz and even Grandmaster Caz to announce the final battle.
Jon Chu as captured the dancer’s on camera well through out routines thanks to his past experience filming the prequel as well as The LXD: League of Extraordinary Dancers who also make crossover appearances throughout. Unlike Streetdance 3D you have a chance to savour the moves rather than miss them with choppy editing.
The 3D effects are nice, although admittedly I watched the film without noticing it too much apart from when dancers did close ups shots in routines, finger tutting right in front of your face, although the cinema projector seemed to have trouble keeping making fast movements appear smooth, which was a little headache inducing.
The 3D moments that really stand out are during the club scenes highlighted by neon, Tron-like lighting, and of course the final battle.
I think dancers will appreciate this film. The set ups are predictable or made blatantly obvious to squeeze in as many 3D moments as possible. Although corny, it is bearable, and cutting away from reality for a short lindy hop interlude shows an appreciation for other styles of dance besides street and breaking.
Fans of the series will also appreciate the references to the past films. Alyson Stoner returns as Moose’s “best friend in the world,” Camille, after a gap between Step Up 2 the Streets, while cast members from the past also make cameos.
Is it better than Streetdance 3D? I think so, and the additional few months in production in comparison to Streetdance‘s race to the box office have paid off in making Step Up 3D a more rounded movie. That and an older audience won’t have to worry about watching a film that cashes in on young, impressionable teenagers. Whew.