Andrew Eccles

Step Up 3D: Technically dazzling yet blissfully old-school

The dance battles that structure the Step Up films are all about the Move — the one unexpected, mind-blowing, totally impossible move that ends a competition and raises the game. The franchise itself has attempted such a maneuver with its third installment, Step Up 3D, which, you might have guessed, was filmed in 3-D. Meant to take the scrappy and often ingeniously choreographed dance sequences to the next level, the result is stalled between floors: Some sick moves get even sicker; some become distorted and freakishly distracting. Those who watch these films for the dancing (i.e., everyone not trying to learn English) will find themselves in a purist bind: Aren't these dancers their own special effects? Some previous cast members return, including Moose (Adam Sevani) and Camille (Alyson Stoner), New York University freshmen whose friendship is tested when Moose is recruited to help a local dance crew win a really important thingy. Also recruited is Natalie (Sharni Vinson), the mysterious designated hottie who is not all that she seems! Director Jon Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets) lets his dancers define the space. For all of the technical dazzle, his actual technique — full body shots and essential cutting, showcased in a spectacular, single-take duet through New York's streets — is blissfully old-school.


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