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Although it’s billed as the first 3D dance movie, “Step Up 3D” doesn’t exactly represent a giant leap forward for the successful franchise.
While several of the dance sequences admittedly pack a visual pop, the added dimension does the hokey scripting and some of the acting no favors by amplifying their already noticeable shortcomings.
Still, all that energetic choreography, set against a vibrant New York backdrop (instead of the usual Baltimore), gets sufficient gimmicky assist from the 3D glasses to give this third installment a modest late-summer kick at the boxoffice.
Director Jon M. Chu (“Step Up 2 The Streets”) is in the right, spirited Empire State of mind to tell the story of a group of tightly knit NYC street dancers who settle their intense rivalry with another local crew at a high-stakes dance battle.
Although he promised his parents that he’d given up dancing for his studies, NYU freshman Moose (“Step Up 2’s” Adam G. Sevani) just can’t help himself after being introduced to the hip-hop stylings of the House of Pirates by crew leader and resident videographer Luke (Rick Malambri).
His indoctrination into the underground group is at the expense of his longtime friendship with the sweet, wide-eyed Camille (Alyson Stoner, from the first “Step Up”).
Meanwhile, Luke has his own problems keeping up with the rent on the group’s expansive, totally cool rehearsal/living space while trying to determine who’s been leaking secret footage of his team’s killer moves to the competition.
While Sevani and Stoner make for a cute, humorous twosome, and Sharni Vinson demonstrates a spirited spark as Malambri’s potential love interest, several of the film’s other actor-dancers are on shakier ground when attempting to deliver some of the soapy, smirk-inducing dialogue furnished by screenwriters Amy Adelson and Emily Meyer.
At more than one point in the labored, painfully predictable proceedings, you want to scream out, “Just shut up and dance, already!”
Ultimately, the real stars of “Step Up 3D” are the choreographers.
Led by the returning Jamal Sims and armed with an arsenal of balloons, bubbles, spraying water, lasers, chalk dust and anything else that might look awesome in 3D, his team of choreographers pulls out all the stops to crowd-pleasing effect.
Providing the necessary toe-tapping audio accompaniment, meanwhile, is a propulsive score by Bear McCreary that sets the momentum without doing battle with fresh, infectious tracks by the likes of Flo Rida, T-Pain and Jazmine Sullivan.
Opens: Friday, Aug. 6 (Walt Disney)
Production companies: Touchstone Pictures, Summit Entertainment, Offspring Entertainment
Cast: Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner
Director: Jon M. Chu
Screenwriters: Amy Adelson & Emily Meyer
Executive producers: Bob Hayward, David Nicksay, Meredith Milton
Producers: Patrick Wachsberger, Erik Feig, Adam Shankman, Jennifer Gibgot
Director of photography: Ken Seng
Production designer: Devorah Herbert
Music: Bear McCreary
Costume designers: Kurt & Bart
Editor: Andrew Marcus
Rating: PG-13, 107 minutes
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