Step Up 3D
Director: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Adam G Sevani, Rick Malambri, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner
Step Up 3D is the Step Up movie I've been wanting this entire time. Its crazy, goofy, silly, weird and has the hell directed out of its dance choreography. I was never bored or forcing interest for a second in this movie. Yes, its kind of poorly acted, has some illogical stuff coupled with a thin plot, but damn if this movie doesn't sell itself well. When watching Step Up 3D, I was getting enjoyment from it for all the right reasons and all the wrong ones. The thing is, I'm pretty sure this movie is WELL aware of what its doing and the crazy choices its making.
We get to move away from MSA in this one, but we get to carry over a character for more than a cameo in Moose from the last movie, who I like. Adam G Sevani looks like the Muppet-ized version of Michael Cera and I'm sure that's why he was cast (aside from dance moves) for the 2nd one. Also carrying over is Camille from the first movie. Now, I'll admit, I didn't realize this until after the movie after I looked it up, but she was C Tates foster sister in the first movie. Apparently she wound up at MSA too and befriended the loveable, goofy but amazingly gifted dancer Moose. Oh, and yeah, some of the backup dancers from The Streets return in the end, but these two are the main ones linking this series and moving forward.
IMMEDIATELY, lets talk about the bathroom scene. This has to be one of the greatest things captured on digital cinema. Moose won a sporatic dance battle with a House Of Samurai member earlier in the day on campus, so they eventually hunt him down. And in the club that apparently Luke and the Pirate gang own, but nobody works at, he is confronted by a man it the bathroom. He rips something off his jacket revealing his jacket is made of SPEAKERS which he kicks on and the guy he beat comes out for revenge in what would normally be a scene where a guy is stabbed in a movie, but this one they try to get their vengeance on him with intense dancing. This scene is so hysterical. I knew right from this moment that I was loving this movie. If I will remember anything from the Step Up series, its this golden moment.
Everything goes over the top in this movie. There's a training sequence with Luke in Natalie that involves a bunch of dangerous manuevers on a rugged rooftop. This includes jumping rooftop to rooftop across the city to get to Moose's class. This movie is just out to be energetic and fun. And its sold in such a way that you're asking for more of it rather than rolling your eyes. Part of the fun of this one is being surprised by the decisions and directions they do take in the film.
The film was produced and released in 3D but I got to see it in 2D. And of course, they really did go for it from what I could tell in being that exploitative Friday the 13th in 3D, Jaws 3D, My Bloody Valentine 3D way instead of that for something like Avatar. Which in turn, makes for an extra weird experience watching it in 2D. But with this movie, it only adds to it. There is an Icee scene where Natalie and Luke are on top of some big exhuast fan and blowing it through their straws and its floating around all sorts of crazy. I was watching it like, "this is bizarre", but it was then I remembered "Oh yeah, Step Up 3D". The film has plenty of "coming at you" moments.
While the film is full of goofiness, silly to bland acting and such, it does contain the single best genuine moment in the entire series. I'm talking about the little number with Moose and Camille dancing to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Its a cute moment with two characters who are colorful, realized and fun. There's a throwback feelback to it with a little modern lift on the musical number. But, I found myself smiling and finding it incredibly sweet. Its smooth, natural, fun and feels effortless from the performers. Nope, its not some crazy modern hip hop dancing piece that "wows" like the series is known for. This series very best moment (so far) comes from a subtle scene that not only impresses with its choreography, but it actually serves as a good character moment between the two as you can really get a sense of their releationship and a communication between one another with this scene. Its fantastic.
Jon M. Chu was the man who directed that scene as he did the rest of the movie. In Step Up 3D, it feels like the leash it off with him as he is free to explore all sorts of dancing styles. There is a lot of variety in this one in terms of craft. We even get a cool ballroom dancing scene in the film. What I think Chu does best here is the pacing of the film. Its perfect. There is SO MUCH dancing in this movie. Chu knows that pretty much what you come to a Step Up film for, so why not fill this thing up with it. Every time a route plot related scene starts getting close to that yawning - BOOM here comes some big dancing. And its just everywhere. Any moment in this movie could swap to dancing on a dime. It truly is a musical, but with dance instead. It makes for an incredibly enteratining and not even in the slightest bit boring watch.
This movie is not perfect at all, no. The previous 2 films have let you know sort of what to expect from these. The weakest part of the film comes from the incredibly vanilla Luke, not helped by the monotone performance of Rick Malambri. And he's got some sort of creepy American Beauty kid thing going on. However, I think it helps that while he's on the poster, he's only really half the male lead as he shares it with Moose. He's also assisted by a stronger performance from Sharni Vinson (bummer she didn't get to use her native Australian tongue for this) as she does her best with the thin material. And, the supporting dance members are all cartoony and funny so it helps to color up looks blandness. Oh and that robot guy...how in the hell? That's absolutely astonishing what he does.
I actually, genuinely enjoyed Step Up 3D. It's a crazy movie. Its well paced and insanely well choreographed. If there's one thing you cannot say about it, is that its boring. Because this movie is the furthest thing from. I was impressed with moments where I couldn't believe what I was seeing just as much ones I was genuinely impressed with. From the 2nd movie on, this series seems to be figuring it out, and 3D is the one that truly "trimmed the fat" and went the biggest. I'm a little worried though, that Jon M. Chu doesn't direct any more of them after this, as I think he really "got" the material and knew how to make a great fun dance exploitation film. We'll see as I'm blind going into all of these, but I really liked what the guy brought to the table and it makes me more interested in the Jem movie he's slated to direct. If this is the high point of the series, I'm absolutely satisfied. I hope there's more fun to come, but at least this series and I will always have Step Up 3D.
NEXT TIME: ?Viva la Revolucion de Step Up?