“New York’s intense street dancing underground comes alive in eye-popping Digital 3D as a tight-knit group of street dancers”
It is a bit unusual for a movie series to get progressively better as it goes along, but that is precisely what has happened with the Step Up series. The first Step Up movie was entertaining, the sequel was even better than that, but the third film – which has been filmed rather brilliantly in eye-popping 3D – is the best of the bunch by a long, long way. It isn’t often that you leave a sequel wanting more, but on this evidence, Step Up 4 remains eagerly awaited.
The plot of Step Up 3-D isn’t exactly an earth-shaker, and although it follows pretty much the same formula as the first two Step Up films, it’s overwhelming sweetness is very infectious indeed. The story follows Moose (who fans will remember from his small part in Step Up 2 The Streets) as he begins his new life at New York University. Before long he becomes torn between studying for an engineering degree to please his father, and taking to the streets to make the most of his outstanding gift for dance.
Before he’s even taken his first class, he’s inducted into a rag-tag local dance troupe known as the Pirates. The leader of the group, Luke (played by Rick Malambri) is also something of a film-maker, and has been creating a documentary about his crew ever since they first started dancing together. These homemade video camera clips make up for only a small portion of the running time, but they’re never anything less than interesting and realistic.
But nobody comes to a Step Up movie for the story, even when it is as solid as it is here. They come for the dance sequences, and the ones in Step Up 3-D might be some of the finest examples of street dance ever captured on film. A lot of famous TV and newspaper film critics direct a lot of animosity towards 3-D movies, but that is because many of them are adapted into 3-D after they have been filmed, which means that the 3-D very often doesn’t look as great as it can, and does, here.
The same cameras and equipment used to film Step Up 3-D are exactly the same as those used to film James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster Avatar – a film that still stands as the best looking 3-D movie ever made. These dance scenes are truly jaw-dropping, and the film’s director Jon Chu employs all sorts of techniques – suits made up of fluorescent light bulbs, lasers and water (something of a signature in Step Up movies) – to make sure that these scenes truly look like something you have never seen before.
Younger moviegoers are going to absolutely adore the film’s final battle – it’s a wondrous spectacle featuring those aforementioned lightbulb-suits and some laser displays, and the 3-D really makes it pop. But there is also a superb sequence (that happens around the half-way point) that adults will probably love just as much. Set to the funked-up, remixed sound of Fred Astaire’s old classic “I Won’t Dance” (from the 1935 film “Roberta”) is an old-fashioned dance number that takes place on the streets of New York, and is shot in one unbroken take.
So Step Up 3-D’s story is not going to throw any massive surprises at you (especially if you’ve seen either of the first two Step Up films) but then that was never the aim of the project. It is about enjoying the wonderful dance sequences and the expert choreography, and with a huge-scale and spectacular dance scene never more than a few minutes away, fans will be getting exactly what they’re paying for. It’s absolutely perfect viewing for the dying days of the summer holidays, and is more than fit for all the family.