17 August 2010 | jon.h.ochiai
It's the Dance
"Step Up 3D" maybe the best 3D movie since "Avatar". You laugh. For one thing "Step Up 3D" was filmed in 3D—no post production enhancement. Seeing amazing street dancing is visually stunning in 3D. One distinguishing sequence has Moose (Adam G. Sevani) splashing his moves on the water flooded stage. In another electrifying sequence the dance troop Pirates move in unison in LED lit costumes. One sees "Step Up 3D" for the 3D—entirely.
No ground breaking storytelling here. Amy Anderson and Emily Meyer's screenplay barely eclipses perfunctory. This is the coming of age story of misunderstood young people overcoming the odds to compete in the First Annual World Dance Jam. The dialogue is awful. We endure the speaking interludes throughout the movie to get to the dancing, which is spectacular. Director Jon Chu has a dramatic sense of line and chaos with a provocative and flourishing visual style.
The dancing is spectacular. Jon Chu has assembled some of the best street dancers in the world. The Santiago Twin (spirited Martin and Facundo Lombard) just kill in the World Dance Jam. Chadd Smith as Vlad, whose specialty is the Robot dance, is absolutely awesome—in 3D the effect is mesmerizing. Sharni Vinson, who plays stunningly beautiful and ripped nomad street dancer Natalie, is elevation and grace combined. The capoeira practice she performs with Luke (cool and handsome Rick Malambri) is high velocity precision. Chu is also a student of the classic musical. He films an homage to "Singing in the Rain" in a single take with Moose and his almost girlfriend Camile (Alyson Stoner) as they duet down the street. Chu also provides such visual texture and touch in the World Dance Jam itself mixing the Wushu influenced Asian street dancers along with the breakers and the poppers.
Even with the corny dialogue and lame story lines, the opening sequence gets it right. Luke (Malambri) runs a shelter and dance studio for down and out street dancers- his parents' legacy. Luke's passion is film-making. As the movie opens we see Luke film interviews with his dancers. This wonderfully captures that dancers are never more present to life or have more joy than when they are dancing. Authentic passion transcends the written words, and is inspired. In a roundabout way "Step Up 3D" is at its best when it is in the moment in 3D, Otherwise, we are left with that Moose is too stupid, albeit a brilliant engineering student, to see that Camile is in love with him, and that he really loves her. Mysterious Natalie may not be who she appears, and that she and Luke are falling for each other. And does anyone really take a train to Los Angeles from New York?
We kind of know the answers to these questions. So what there is to do is enjoy the dancing.