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Luke (Rick Malambri) heads a tight-knit group of New York City street dancers called The Pirates, who live and rehearse in the warehouse his parents left him. Seriously behind in his mortgage payments, Luke is keen to win the $100,000 prize in the upcoming hip hop dancer World Jam, but his former partner Julian (Joe Slaughter) has formed a rival dance group called The Samurai. Luke recruits two new dancers: Natalie (Sharni Vinson) and freshman Moose (Adam G. Sevani), but both have secrets and problems. Who will win the World Jam? And will Luke ever be able to follow his real dream of becoming a filmmaker?

Review by Louise Keller:
For those addicted to film about street dancing, filled with jaw-gaping routines, pulsating hip-hop music and a flimsy plot to hang it all together, here's another one in the mould. Ironically, it isn't the quality of the dancing that differentiates one film from the other, as a rule it is a given that the dancing will be top notch. The yardstick lies in the storyline, the appeal of the characters and how that fabulous dancing is used.

With familiar themes about rivalry, family and living your dream, Step Up 3D is so intent to dazzle us with non-stop high-octane dancing, incredibly it becomes a bit of a yawn as it plays on one note. We feel as though we have seen it all before, and while director Jon Chu makes full use of the 3D experience with an effective, if stylised way of shooting, the routines eventually become (dare I say?) monotonous due to their sameness. Consequently, instead of leaving us gasping by their brilliance as dancers twirl on their heads, leap in gravity defying routines and flex in impossible positions to the rhythmic hip-hop beat, the overall impact is muted.

There's nothing new about the storyline, which is basically a retelling of the hip hop fairy tale. The most important decisions are never easy to make, the central characters discover as they journey along the challenging uphill road of dance leading to the fulfilment of their dreams. The characters are pleasant enough, but there's little traction to make them real. Words rather than actions tell us of the conflicts, the angst, the struggles and the fact that it's all about the journey not the destination.

Rick Malambri is appealing as the hunky heartthrob Luke whose secret ambitions to be a filmmaker come to the fore as he documents his dancing colleagues' thoughts about what dancing means to them. Paired with Aussie Home and Away star Sharni Vinson as the ever-competitive dance-whizz Natalie, they make an attractive couple leaping over concrete blocks, skimming fences and navigating rooftops under the majestic New York skyline. There's a memorable kiss, too, above a train station, when they are nearly literally blown away. Adam G. Sevani (as the nerdy, tousle-haired Moose) and Alyson Stone (as the ever-patient Camille) are a quirky addition to the cast, following their successful appearances in Step Up 2 The Streets.

There's a poorly contrived plot that pits two rival dance gangs against each other as they compete for a $100,000 jackpot and there is little tension or angst as secrets are revealed, loyalties redefined and all the story strands are neatly tied into predictable outcomes. Pipped at the post by Streetdance 3D, this energetic dance film is entertaining enough but doesn't step up to any challenges.
First published in the Sun-Herald

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(US, 2010)

CAST: Alyson Stoner, Sharni Vinson, Harry Shum Jr, Rick Malambri, Adam G. Sevani, Ally Maki, Stephen Boss, Christopher Scott, Luis Rosado

PRODUCER: Erik Feig, Jennifer Gibgot, Adam Shankman, Patrick Wachsberger


SCRIPT: Amy Andelson, Emily Myer


MUSIC: Bear McCreary


RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes

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