Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Step Up 3 2D/3D Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
I’ve seen and enjoyed the first movie in the Step Up franchise but I was not aware that a sequel was ever made until Step Up 3 was released.   The first and the third movies don’t have much in common, except for one character I noticed, and a lot of dancing.  A google search tells me that Step Up 3 carries over characters from Step up 2: The Streets.  Despite not having not seen the second film, I did not feel I was lost as Step Up 3 works well as a stand alone movie.  Step Up was a pretty good movie with decent dancing.  Step Up 3, is a pretty good movie with AMAZING dancing.  It is as if every dancer in this film was born to dance.  I’m quite certain that if I devoted the rest of my life to dance I would never accomplish even one of the moves seen in Step Up 3.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Step Up 3 focuses on a group of street dancers in New York City.  The group lives together, works together and has become a closer family than most blood relatives.  The group, known as the House of Pirates, needs to win the World Jam, and the accompanying prize money in order to keep their home.  The Pirates’ rival is the House of Samurai dance crew.  The Samurai appear equally talented but they are also a whole lot meaner and you hope the good guys will win.
Moose, played by Adam Sevani, is enjoying his first day in New York City when he ends up accidentally competing with a hard core dancer.  Luckily, he is rescued and befriended by the leader of the House of Pirates who wants Moose to join them.  Unfortunately, Moose has promised his parents that he is done wasting time dancing, and is ready to focus on Engineering and his future.   Despite his promise, The Pirates barely have to twist his arm before he signs on.  Moose may be the missing link that the Pirates have been waiting for, but spends a significant portion of the movie living a double life.  He is trying to train with the Pirates, keep up his school work and not disappoint his best friend who is also new to NYU.
The plot is pretty simple and predictable.  Every plot “twist” is expected and it’s safe to say that the film will not be up for Best Screenplay. However, the lack of an original storyline does not diminish from the spectacular dancing.  I’m assuming all the actors in the film are really dancers who could act.  The character Moose is certainly central to the story but new characters Luke and Natalie (Rick Malambri  and Sharni Vinson) are what Step Up 3 is all about.
In addition to being a dancer and the leader of the Pirates, Luke is an amateur film maker working on a documentary called Born From a Boombox.  In my opinion Luke is the most impressive of all the dancers in the film.   I would comment more on some of his specific moves if I knew what to call them.   I was thoroughly impressed with his robot-like dancing in which his body appears to move independently of his head and neck.
The dance battles are enhanced by the 3D, but it’s certainly enjoyable in 2D.   During these battles, the dancers are often dancing right at the camera and do appear at times as thought they could end up in your living room.  The 3D is a welcome addition to the film, but if you aren’t a fan of 3D, the 2D version is good too.   I do admit to not being 100% sold on 3D movies in general, and I don’t like to wear the glasses, but when the 3D is done well…it’s pretty cool.

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Step Up 3 has a very nice 1080p (1.85:1) transfer that looks even better in 3D.  Colors in both versions are bright, and the black levels are nice and dark as well.  Detail is good although there are few shots that look soft for some reason.   Flesh-tones are realistic and consistent and the costumes are bright and vivid.  This is a very clean looking transfer although the 2D version suffers in comparison to the 3D version’s superior immersive effect.
3D Version – The 3D version easily beats the 2D version since the movie was filmed in 3D and was choreographed and conceptualized for 3D.  There’s a real sense of depth that is lost when compared to the 2D version.  The dance routines take advantage of the 3D opportunities with the dancers reaching out for the audience and some other gimmicky shots that were done well too.  There’s no problem with ghosting images either.  Bottom line: Watch the movie in 3D if you can since everything about this movie was made with 3D in mind and it shows between the two versions.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

Step Up 3 has an awesome soundtrack, although I admit to not recognizing any of the artists.   I also admit to being a mom in her thirties who spends a great portion of her day watching Nickelodeon with a toddler – so that doesn’t mean the artists are unknown (just unknown to me).  The soundtrack complements the film well and puts the DTS-HD  Master Audio 7.1 track to good use.  While the movie didn’t pan across the satellite speakers like I would have liked for a 3D release, it did utilize all of the channels well.  Ambient noises were also well positioned and the music really gets the most attention although the dialogue was clear too.

Special Features (3 out of 5 stars)

I like to see a lot of special features on a Blu Ray – and I wish Step Up 3 had more. I would have liked more about the actors, specifically about their dance training. A ”making of” featurette would have been nice and maybe some bloopers. With all those perfect dance moves there had to have been a few funny mistakes they could have shown us to make me feel better about my two left feet.
DVD Bonus Features
  • Extra Moves – a music montage featuring the dancers with alternate angles and extra footage. This was interesting to  watch but I would have liked more talking about the dancing.
  • Making of the Music Videos – Like I said I don’t know who any of the artists are but it’s nice to see the dancers from the movie getting involved in the video, and funny to see one of the main stars not get to be in a video.
  • Music Videos:
    • Club Can’t Handle Me – This is my favorite song in the movie and it makes me wish I could dance.
    • My Own Step
    • Already Taken
    • This Girl
    • This Instant
    • No Te Quiero
    • Irresistible
    • Spirit of the Radio
Blu Ray Bonus Features
Includes all DVD Bonus Features and the following:
  • Born From A Boom Box: A Luke Katcher Film –After so much talk about this documentary in the movie, I’m glad you get to see it here.
  • Deleted Scenes with intros by Director Jon M. Chu – all worth watching.  Nothing critical was left on the editing room floor.

Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars) 

Dancers, those who always wanted to be dancers, and everyone else should agree that the dancing in Step Up 3 is really impressive. Director Jon M. Chu does a great job of making you feel like you are in the middle of a club, and making you feel like the club is coming into your living room especially in the 3D version which was even more immersive.  The plot was predictable but enjoyable and  I now plan to check out Step Up 2, and will just think of it as a prequel.   Fans of parts one and two should not be disappointed by this entry and those new to the franchise will be intrigued as well.  If you are a big fan of 3D movies, this has a lot to offer but don’t worry if  you don’t have 3D since  the 2D version looks great too.
Order yours today!

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