i love to dance, and i love to watch movies. but i’ve never been a fan of dance movies, i don’t know why. if my memory serves me right, the last one i watched was CENTER STAGE — and that was on cable television.
but ever since i got exposed to the genius of harry shum, jr. on GLEE, i became more interested in dance stories. there’s the LXD (LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY DANCERS) on the internet, but it’s only available in certain areas. so i haven’t seen that. but then, there’s also STEP UP 3D, from the director (and creator?) of LXD — featuring a cameo appearance by harry shum, jr.
STEP UP 3D focuses on the lives of three characters: moose, a crossover character from the second movie, and camille (from the first movie) establish the new milieu: new york. which isn’t so new for me, since this is the first STEP UP movie i’ve seen. but of the two, it’s moose’s progression that we will be following.
moose meets luke, the leader of the house of pirates, a dance group that takes in dancers who have nowhere else to go. luke is our second story thread, and is our male lead. throughout the story, he films his friends, colleagues–his family. he is established as the guy who finds people who are born to dance. and in the beginning of the movie, it is also established that there’s this girl he sees in their in-house club that he wants to approach, but never seems to catch.
that girl is revealed to be natalie, our third story thread, whose past is shrouded in mystery. she is a classically-trained dancer who loves to compete — but doesn’t have a place to call home. luke takes her into his home, and into his heart.
luke and natalie’s story threads are intertwined, with a predictable twist that would make you go, and i quote wash of FIREFLY, “curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”
moose’s thread, on the other hand, is almost completely separate. he has to find the balance between his school life and his dance life. of the three threads, this is most interesting for me. sadly, because moose is not the male lead, not much focus is given to this story thread.
to be quite honest, not much focus is given to any of the stories. and, you know what? it works for STEP UP 3D. after all, you go into a dance movie not wanting to watch a story. you come in to watch people dance. and dance, they did.
the best parts of the movie was the dancing. obviously. jon chu, the director, definitely knows his way around dance. i’m not a dancer, though (as i already mentioned) i love to dance. so i’m watching these dance performances through the eyes of an audience member — and jon chu definitely captures the performances in the best light possible.
when you watch dance performances live, you get that sense of awe: everything feels very now. but when you watch it on a television screen, or on the silver screen, this sense of awe is somehow diminished. that’s because the material is edited, spliced together, to tell the best possible story.
jon chu manages to do this and not diminish the material. in fact, in some parts, he even manages to enhance the dance to make it pop more. probably because the movie was made for 3D theaters. but i prefer to think it’s because he loves dance as much as the dancers love it.
i have two favorite dance performances in the movie: one done with a flooding dance floor (see included picture), and another done broadway/old-movie style. the latter felt very set up, but by the time you reach that part of the movie, you wouldn’t really care. you’re just there to enjoy.
over all, STEP UP 3D deserves repeat viewing — not for the story, but for the wonderful, amazing, extraordinary dance performances. i wasn’t able to watch it in 3D, because i didn’t have the time to wait for the next showing in 3D — but i’m definitely looking forward to catching this in 3D, when i find the time. and i’m also buying the dvd, so i can watch the performances again and again.
i might even go out and purchase the first two movies on dvd, just because i enjoyed this one so much.