May 28, 2010|
(USA) The danger of making a film in 3D is that the director sometimes falls too easily into the trap of placing all their energy and focus on the spectacle, while completely ignoring other film staples—like a proper script, for instance. But while “Avatar” transported its audiences to a stunning new world, the last installment of the “Step Up” series takes its audiences through a clichéd dance world of tween marketing.
Moose (Adam G. Sevani), who kind of resembles the hypothetical love child of Michael Jackson and Chico Marx, is just about to begin his freshman year at NYU with his BFF Camille. His parents don’t want him to dance, but this kid just has to, because, as the shockingly dull main character Luke (Rick Malambri) points out, Moose is “B-FAB.” (Born From A Boombox, duh). Apparently, Luke needs Moose to help his dance crew, House of Pirates, win an upcoming competition, not only because it offers the most prize money ever, but because Luke also needs the $100,000 winnings to keep his multi-million dollar loft/warehouse/dance club. Strange, because he seems to be able to afford a warehouse full of costly things: multiple HP computer screens, video cameras, huge headphones, Blackberrys, Xbox, a foam pit, and LED light suits for the whole crew. OK—with money-management skills like his, I guess it’s not that strange after all. Anyway, it’s the Pirates against the world’s top dancers, and more than one of their enemy dance troupes have Asian-influenced names (House of Gwai/House of Samurai). Either way, you already know how this one ends.
Even by the lowered standards and expectations of dance films, the script is mind-numbingly awful. More than anything else, the film feels like an excuse for a 108-minute music/dance video that happens to be attached to an abysmal plot, coupled with less than mediocre acting and ridiculously laughable dialog (such pearls of wisdom as “This is real life, Luke!” or “The most important decisions in life are never easy”). However, dance films are really all about the show, and in that respect, it somewhat delivers, though not too convincingly with its labored references to Elvis, Jackson and Fred Astaire. Indeed, the choreography is the only relatively impressive thing about the film, although each background character apparently specializes in just one move (there is robot dude, rave hands girl, and the spastic Moose, to name a few), while the main actors simply fade to the back when any real dancing occurs. Some 3D tricks are half decent, but when, for the ultimate romantic scene, there is a shot in which the main characters stand on top of a subway ventilation duct and pour slushies into it so that it “magically” floats around like artificial snow/confetti, you know something is not right.