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Step Up 3 (3D/2D Combo) (2010) Print E-mail
Monday, 27 December 2010
ImageThis is an easy film to sum up.  It is one, big long music video.  The end.  If you are not into seeing some “sick” and “totally sweet” dance routines then you can skip on to the next movie on your list.

The “Step Up” series began in 2006 with an original film that was akin to “Honey” at the time.  The film was based on tried and true concepts but there was chemistry between Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan.  “Step Up 2: The Streets” plummeted downhill, and we are going to stay clear of that one.  Unfortunately, “Step Up 3” doesn’t fair any better.

The film doesn’t have one original plot idea.  I suppose director Jon Chu gave in and just tried to create the best dance moves ever seen.  The plot uses a predictable inside spy routine, a romance between the leads that exists simply because it must and the same battle of dance premise that we have seen time and time again in cheerleader and dance films.

In “Step Up 3,” Luke heads an establishment that houses dance stars who have nowhere to go.  They form a dance crew that competes against local dance crews, usually in the park.  But now, Luke’s abandoned building is up for auction due to lack of mortgage payments.  They are counting on the money from winning the World Jam competition in order to pay of the mortgage.  Ummm, $100,000 isn’t going to pay six months of back mortgage in prime New York City.  No way.

Luke has recruited Moose, a new-to-New York freshman at NYU who is torn between engineering and pleasing his father and what he really loves, dance.  Of course all his time spent sneaking off to rehearse dance has taken a toll on his lifelong friendship with Camille, who of course has romantic feelings for Moose, which go unnoticed.

Meanwhile, Luke also recruits Natalie, another dancer with apparently no place to go.  Of course we know that their first meeting is a bit too auspicious, so something must be hidden.  Not so well hidden if you ask me.  But I will leave that for you to decide.
So, as you might tell, the plots are old and weak.  They haven’t been strengthened in any way in this film.  They are used in a simple cookie cutter manner.  That leaves one thing for this film to succeed at, and that is dance.  For the most part the film brings this aspect to the screen.  However, I have one issue.  It is an issue that haunts every cheerleading and dance competition film.  Simply, the best choreographed routines in the competitions always seem to go to the team that loses.  Why is that?  While the winner of the final World Jam competition is clearly the winner, the other dance-offs along the way all seem to be reversed.

That aside, dance lovers will love these moves.  Most of them don’t look humanly possible.  I’m sure there are a few sped up/slow down moments, but on the whole these moves are performed in real time.  So, basically, watch the film’s dance segments or skip it altogether.

“Step Up 3” comes to Blu-ray as “Step Up 3D.”  This is not to be confused with the original film in the series being re-released in 3D.  It isn’t.  That being the case, “Step Up 3” was originally shot in 3D so I had high expectations for the 3D video quality and effect.  For the most part the film succeeds.  There is some ghosting.  Right from the start there is ghosting with the overlay outlines of the pseudo-video footage of interviews by dancers.  Ghosting on arms and body shapes is also noticeable here and there throughout the film.  I have come to expect this with 3D so it wasn’t too bothersome.  Colors are excellent.  Just make sure that your screen is calibrated to adjust for the loss in brightness when viewing 3D content.  If done properly, the colors will be nicely enhanced and full-bodied by the contrast and brightness levels.  The black levels are quite deep and fairly stable.  There are some hauntingly dark screen areas during some of the night shots that swallow up details.  Details and textures are realistic.  All the costumes and city streets contain breathtakingly real imagery.  You almost feel like you are in New York City.  Fleshtones are kept natural for the most part.  There is some fluctuation here and there.  In terms of 3D effect, the dance segments offer the biggest 3D impact.  Arms and heads shoot from the screen on occasion.  The dance routines that involve bubbles and water fountains are refreshing.  The water droplets and bubbles will fill your living, depending on your proximity to the 3D screen.  The dramatic moments in the film are less impressive, but they still have nice depth.  It is not the best depth I have seen on 3D to date, but it is a sight to behold for sure.  In terms of 3D you will not be disappointed with this release.

The audio is spectacular.  I would love to give this track five stars but it has a bit of a balance and dialogue issue.  The dialogue is generally good, but on occasion the dialogue is not as prioritized in the mix as it should be.  However, since the script is a complete joke this isn’t too bothersome for me on this release.  “Step Up 3” is the second film natively done in 7.1 surround sound, “Toy Story 3” being the first.  This Blu-ray comes with the original mix in DTS-HD MA 7.1.  There are two major stars in this audio track.  The first is the LFE channel.  I have never heard so much LFE content in all my life.  This track will give your subwoofer the best work out it has ever had, and probably will ever have.  It almost seems that the mixers forgot about bass management.  But then you remember that this is a hip-hop dance video so it is entirely expected.  Now, the LFE may be bombastic, but it still doesn’t go overboard.  It fits with the genre.  The bass spreads nicely through the room, assuming a proper subwoofer setup, meaning placement and level calibration.  The second star of the track is the 7.1.  It is used much more effectively than in “Toy Story 3.”  The four surround channels are seamlessly integrated, providing for smoother pans in the rear channels.  Discrete effects are abundant in the surround channels during dance-off segments.  The music and the discrete effects are nicely balanced.  Directionality is accurate and convincing.  When the pauses and sinks into its dramatic moments the surround channels are a bit lighter than they should be.  While there is the hustle and bustle of New York in the rears, the level fluctuates and it is spotty, never fully convincing.  Dynamics are explosive when considering there is soft dialogue and the most bombastic hip-hop dance music you have ever heard.  However, these never take place back-to-back so the dynamics are much more subtle.  Overall, this is an impressive audio track and if you have been waiting for more 7.1 native content then this is a must have.

Once again, the special features of this Blu-ray release are all housed on the 2D Blu-ray disc.  “Extra Moves” is a dance montage.  “Born From A Boombox: A Luke Katcher Film” is the short film in its entirety that is seen throughout the film.  There are a half of one dozen or so music videos, and a making of the music videos.  There is 20 minutes of deleted footage.  The package also contains a DVD/Digital Copy Combo disc.  There is no commentary nor PiP track, nor anything on native 3D filming or native 7.1 mixing.

“Step Up 3” is a definite skip if you are at all interested in story.  If you love dance then this is a must have.  For those that are indifferent but would like to see some 3D action and experience the most convincing 7.1 audio mix then this is a must have.  I recommend this title in terms of technical specs.

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