Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Step Up 3-D (2010, Chu)

Rating: *1/2

You better learn how to duck if you’re planning to see Step Up 3-D in a theater, because there’s plenty of dodging ahead of you. Apart from the stock comin’-atcha effects that seem inevitable in a square and unimaginative 3-D movie like this one, you’re gonna have loads and loads of bullshit (or “B.S.”, to quote the MPAA-savvy baddie of the piece) thrown your way.

As a musical, the movie harkens back to the oldest, basest (and best) plot elements: it’s a crossover between the breakthrough-show-saved-in-the-last-minute populism of 42nd Street (1933) and the let’s-put-on-a-show-in-a-barn uplift of the Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney innocuous entertainment. These recognizable and cozy mechanisms don’t take off, though. For them to work, one would need characterizations, snappy dialogue and spirit, all sadly lacking from this staggering  piece of glossy and brand-infested schlock.

The actors don’t act or even make turns; they simply get a supermodel-treatment while reciting the worse imaginable dialogue. The lines are laced with words like “truth”, “self” and “discovery”, and when the girl says to the boy, after seeing his sub-YouTube documentary: “You’re a filmmaker”, she unwittingly confuses a name of a profession with a profound compliment. Step Up 3-D is a filmmakers’ film (some of the effects are great and the long take of an old-fashioned dance number by the ice-cream stand is actually stunning), but it lacks a director, a personality, even a tone.

When Adam G. Sevani (a walking Carravaggio dream boy, if there ever was one) dances his updated Fred Astaire routine, it’s joyous enough, even though the choreography lacks shape. But nothing can really redeem a movie that goes in for its kill in a sequence of squirting CGI-soda up into the air on the top of a giant fan, all filmed in a TV-ad orgiastic frenzy of wild camera swirl.

As the characters would probably say to the director: “You’re not real, you’re not yourself, and you’re hurting me.”

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