In this first 3D dance movie “Step Up 3D,” director Jon M. Chu captures some incredible hip hop dancers and dance battles while experimenting with the 3D medium, but if you are looking for a riveting story, good acting and deep emotional impact, “Step Up 3D” is probably not for you.
If you saw “Step Up 2: The Streets,” you’ll probably recognize some characters, but it’s not necessary to know any of the back story. Adam G. Sevani returns as Moose and Alyson Stoner is Camille, best buddies attending NYU. Moose is supposedly giving up dancing for engineering, but he accidentally becomes involved in a dance duel against Kid Darkness (Daniel ‘Cloud” Campos), which ends with a little innocent vandalism and Moose running from the cops, aided by the hunky videographer Luke (Rick Malambri).
Luke is trying to save his family’s nightclub from foreclosure and the only way to pay off the bank is for his dance crew to win a citywide dance competition. Of course, this crew, House of Pirates, needs Moose. They also might need a mysterious girl who has been dropping by the club and flirting with Luke’s lens.
The girl, Natalie (Sharni Vinson), needs a place to crash after her friend is a no-show and Luke offers her a place to stay, train as a dancer and become part of the Pirate family.
The Pirates’ main rival is the House of Samurai crew, headed by rich boy and bitter former Pirate Julien (Joe Slaughter). Two parallel love stories between best friends Moose and Camille and newly introduced Luke and Natalie are predictable enough not to distract audiences from the main events: the dance battles.
But just when you think it’s all about hip hop and b-boys and girls, Chu breaks into a romantic dance sequence. Then there’s the ballroom tango scene that reminds of the “Tango Maureen” routine from the movie “Rent.”
Sometimes the film seems a little disjointed, but it’s probably best to suspend all expectations of consistency. Chu admitted in a recent telephone interview that this movie was filled with experiments — some that worked, some that didn’t.
“So You Think You Can Dance” fans will recognize some faces, most prominently Stephen “tWitch” Boss as Jason. Boss competed during season four, finishing as the runner-up. And during this season, season seven, he’s one of the so-called all-stars. Boss will also be a lead in “Stomp the Yard 2.”
SYTYCD season four winner Joshua Allen is featured in a head-to-head dance battle scene. Katee Shean (also season four), Cedric Gardner (season three), Ivan Koumaev (season two) and Gerard Heintz (season one) round out the SYTYCD alums.
“Glee” fans also get a chance to see Harry Shum Jr. really cut loose on the dance floor, reprising his role as Cable.
“Step Up 3D” is a great showcase for some of today’s best dance talents and one of the best examples of 3D technology adding to a film’s impact. Chu can be credited with letting loose, discovering some incredible talents and pushing 3D to a new and exciting potential.