‘Lord of the Dance 3D’

Stephan Schraps

This might be better after a few pints of Guinness.

A vanity production so self-inflated they needed an extra dimension to contain it, Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance 3D won’t win many new fans for the high-stepping dancer. It might even cost him a few old ones.

Flatley has been milking this clackety-clack cash cow in sold-out arenas throughout the world since he broke away from the original Riverdance production to form his own troupe in 1995. While the live show spawned a previous filmed version in 1997, the principal justification for this latest big-screen regurgitation appears to be the availability of 3D technology, the use of which is a yawn. If you’re worried you’ll spend 95 minutes ducking to avoid getting poked in the eye by a pixie boot, rest easy.

Spewing platitudinous catchphrases — it’s like pushing an elephant up a hill; back into the lion’s den; there can’t be a great army without a great general, etc. — Flatley fans the flames of his own mythology in his introduction. He has kept up the tanning appointments and highlights, but perhaps as a nod to getting older, he spares us the oiled torso, stripping only to a tank top. His splashy stage entrances are a hoot as he goads the audience into worship mode while whirling around in a Siegfried and Roy jacket.

There are This Is Spinal Tap moments, with hooded Druids carrying flame torches, and press materials spin some hogwash about the story being rooted in Celtic folklore. There’s way more Vegas vulgarization than Emerald Isle mystique, with the nymphs at one point discarding their tunics for black bikinis. You’d have to search hard among the dancers to find a fresh-scrubbed, red-haired Irish Colleen — instead, the prevailing look is brassy blond with drag queen-strength makeup, as exemplified by the fiddlers, two Celtic Barbies in hoochie skirts and hooker boots.

Beyond the questionable taste of the whole thing, the real letdown in Marcus Viner’s film is the camera’s ambivalence toward the defining element of Irish dance, the footwork. Still, in audience shots, the Dublin crowd looks ecstatic. Maybe you had to be there.

Opens Thursday, March 17 (Supervision)
Cast Michael Flatley, Tom Cunningham
Producers Kit Hawkins, Vicki Betihavas
Rated G, 95 minutes