Step Up 3D (2010)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Step Up 3D</strong> (2010)

(In theaters, August 2010) There are times when I find myself in a movie theater with no clear idea of why I have chosen to see the film in front of my eyes.  This wasn’t one of those times: Despite my scepticism for the 3D movie craze and my complete lack of knowledge in the field of dancing, the trailer for Step Up 3D mesmerized me as much as it made me laugh.  But what it promised more than anything else was an experience: Dance films have a physicality that approaches that of action movies, and the thrill I get from seeing good dance cinematography isn’t dissimilar to that of a well-mastered martial art sequence (also see; parkour).  I also suspected that many of the self-conscious devices characterizing 3D movies wouldn’t be half as annoying in a format halfway between a film and a concert.  I was proven right on almost all accounts: Step Up 3D is an exhilarating time at the movies for what it shows as soon as the music starts.  As a narrative experience, it’s as basic at it can be with paper-thin plotting, amiable characters, a few stereotypes and no surprises whatsoever.  But never mind the story as long as it strings along the dance sequences: that’s when Jon Chu’s direction takes flight and the film soars.  While the film’s three showcase sequences are the dance battles between rival groups, Step Up 3D also has time to sneak in some ballroom dancing and a number that could have been lifted straight out of a classic musical comedy.  Other highlights include a waterlogged dance sequence and a mesmerizing robot-rock performance by “Madd Chadd” Smith (Go ahead, watch it on YouTube).  But the sequence that really sold Step Up 3D to me is a sweet and charming street-dancing sequence taking place in long uninterrupted shots, a sequence so full of joy that it does what countless other serious movies have failed to do: make me happy to be human and to live in a world where such scenes exist.  There’s a primal joy in seeing other people move in extraordinary ways, and for once my lack of knowledge in a field paid off as I saw the film’s dancing from an unprejudiced eye.  I half-expected to like Step Up 3D; I didn’t expect that I would like it that much.  The 3D, for once, helps a lot in correctly putting us in the universe of the film: the artificiality of 3D efforts pays off when the dancers are purely playing to the camera, waving their hands in our faces.  For once, I’m not sure if the film will be as effective in 2D.  No matter, however: I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a theatrical experience as much since Grindhouse.

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