If there ever was a film exemplifying the state of Hollywood creativity in the year 2010, Step Up 3D is perhaps the best example. A near carbon copy of a sequel to a film that cribbed its entire concept from lesser films and lacking in any substance and originality, the second sequel to the surprise hit Step Up lacks in everything but a flair for style. And that isn’t nearly enough to make the film anything but dreadful, a common refrain for a franchise with a story that was clichéd and unoriginal when Breakin’ 2: Electric Bugaloo came out in 1984; this is nearly the exact same film.
Luke (Rick Malambri) is a wannabe filmmaker who runs one of the best dance crews in New York City. He owns and operates a dance club, with a dance studio upstairs housing his wayward group of misfit dancers. He needs an influx of cash and needs it fast, as the bank is threatening to foreclose on everything he has. When a chance encounter with Moose (Adam Sevani) and Natalie (Sharni Vinson) gives him the potential to win the World Jam dance off, and give him the money needed to repay the bank, he puts everything into that basket to try and win the World Jam and defeat his arch rival Julien (Joe Slaughter) in the process.
Whereas the first film in the franchise at least tried to make the plot relevant to the big dance sequences, this is a film that treats the whole pesky things like characters and story arcs like a bad action film would: as parts to be played in between dance sequences. The film’s main plot revolves around the usual clichés and plot twists that have been done before in both dance films and in this franchise; there’s nothing new or original to be found in the genre and Step Up 3D wisely sticks to clichés because it doesn’t have the acting talent to bring something new or fresh to the genre. This is cast chosen because it could perform the requisite dance moves and not for any requisite acting abilities; this is a film that is purely about the dancing with just enough character development to be more than a collection of dance sequences. For better or worse this is a film that lives and dies based on how spectacular its dance sequences are.
They are spectacular but there isn’t anything above and beyond what we’ve seen before in the genre. With the glut of dance films in the last decade there have been plenty of great dance sequences and Step Up 3D doesn’t do anything above and beyond what’s been done before. They are great to watch, and the film does have a strong soundtrack in full use, but the film doesn’t add anything into the mix that is significantly better than what is already out there. It remains a vapid sequel in an equally vapid franchise.
Director: Jon Chu Notable Cast: Rick Malambri, Sharni Vinson, Adam Sevani, Alyson Stoner, Joe Slaughter Writer(s): Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer based on characters created by Duane Adler