In 'Step Up,' 3D Is Not Just a Gimmick

So decree the critics

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Avatar's truly massive box office haul gave Hollywood execs a really bright idea to boost their studio's bottom line: Why not put all films in 3-D? Even, apparently, the ones that don't warrant the treatment at all (Kenny Chesney in 3-D, anyone?) or those that were reconverted after the fact. On first glance, the weekend's wide release Step Up 3D appears like a gimmick to cash in on the higher-ticket prices that can be demanded for such features.

Many reviewers, however, disagree with this assumption. Variety even went out on a limb to say that it's one of "the few 3D releases since Avatar to make compelling use of the format." The lesson? Don't judge a movie by it's trippy, neon-splattered poster.

  • 'This is Jump-’N’-Jive Cinema Done Right' praises Keith Uhlich at Time Out New York, who believes the movie has an aura that "makes you feel genuinely sky-high." His enthusiasm doesn't stop there: It's "populated by actual, likable dancers instead of Hollywood celebrities trying too hard…and with cinematography to match. It’s possible that the use of 3-D cameras forced director Jon Chu to compose his frames more rigorously: Head-to-toe coverage is favored over piecemeal body shots..."
  • Either 'the Rebirth of the Dance Musical, or Its Flaming, Ignominious Death' writes a baffled Ty Burr for The Boston Globe. "Watching this movie in 3-D is very much like sticking one’s head in a blender and hitting 'pulse,'’’ he explains (or attempts to). When Burr finally comes to he revels in the sheer delight of the dancing: the impeccably choreographed production is a "riotous explosion of massed bodies, over-edited unto grand mal overkill but just as often allowed to group and disperse in thrilling patterns."
  • The Zesty Moves and Exuberant Dancers make for an exhilarating rush, gushes Kevin Thomas at The Los Angeles Times. While the writer marvels at all aspects of the film's production, he's particularly struck by its "model of the organic film musical" in which the taut imagery and 3D dancers "leap right off the screen." Plot incoherency, however, should be judged apart from the spectacle.
  • It's Nifty to See Dust Particles Swooshing at You during the 3-D dance routines, but "why are the Step Up movies so white?" remarks The Austin Chronicle's Kimberely Jones. "Consider the evidence: Six romantic leads over the course of three movies – well, to be fair, really the same movie with Mad Libs-like switch-outs in character motivation and setting of the final dance battle – and not a single above-the-line non-Caucasian in the bunch."
  • Perfunctory Narrative Can't Salvage Over-Produced Dance Routines sniffs The New York Times' Mike Hale. The film is simply "pure spectacle, and numbingly repetitive spectacle at that." Nevertheless, he writes, "dancing, with its bodies moving behind and around other bodies, is a good fit for 3-D."
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