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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Step Up 3D

December 19th, 2010

Step Up 3D - Buy from Amazon: DVD, Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack, or 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy Combo Pack

The first Step Up was released in 2006 and while it was trashed by critics, it earned more than $100 million worldwide on just a $12 million budget. The second earned reviews that were a little better, but still terrible, but it took home $150 million on a budget of less than $20 million. This summer Step Up 3D came out, but despite the 3D effects and the ticket price inflation that goes with it, it wasn't able to match its predecessors at the box office.

The Movie

The film starts with the character of Luke interviewing a number of dancers for a movie he is making about competitive dance and the people who live that life. We then cut to Moose and Camille, who arrive at NYU for their first day of university. His family is there to see him off, and they are glad he has promised to give up on dancing and to concentrate on becoming an engineer. That promise doesn't last. In fact, before he even makes it to orientation, he gets mixed up in a dance-off and wins against a top dancer named Kid Darkness, of the House of Samurai. This gets him noticed by Luke, who in turn introduces him to the world of competitive dance. Luke runs a dance crew called The House of Pirates out of a warehouse his parents used to own and he's converted into a training studio / dance club. Unfortunately, he's in danger of losing the warehouse, as he's six months behind on the bank payments. He's counting on Moose to be their secret weapon in the World Jam dance competition, with a little training. Or a lot of training. Their only competition is the hated House of Samurai, which is led by Julien, who used to be friends with Luke, till they had a falling out.

Meanwhile, Luke sees Natalie dancing in his club, and it's love at first site. He recruits her for his crew, but it's not just her dance moves that interests him, and soon there's romance in the air. However, she has a hidden agenda of her own.

So that's the basic setup, although for the most part the plot is quite forgettable. In fact, the only part of the actual plot that held my attention for any length of time was the budding nerd romance between Moose and Camille. The real selling point of the film are the dance scenes, and there are plenty of them. I haven't done the math, but if someone told me there was more dancing in this movie than dialogue, I'd believe them. Some of the dances are amazing, but I do have two complaints. Firstly, too often they would blend together. There are some that really stand out, but a lot could be interchangeable. Granted, I'm not a follower of this type of dancing, or any type of dancing, so perhaps I'm not familiar enough to tell the dance moves apart. This leads into my second problem, I couldn't tell what side was winning in these dance battles. In the final battle, the announcer gives commentary like, "This is a massacre, people." How can you tell? "It looks like it's over." What? Why? Maybe I just don't know enough about dance, but these declarations seemed without merit.

Again, it was Camille and Moose that were the best part, as their duet to Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly was not only well done, it was also unique.

On a side note, there were more than a few times in the film where it was obvious that a shot was there mostly just to show off the 3D effects. They probably looked cool on the big screen, but without the 3D effects, they look gratuitous.

The Extras

Extras on the DVD start with Extra Moves, which is a seven-minute behind-the-scenes / dancing montage. There is a seven-minute making of featurette about the music videos made for the movie's soundtrack, plus those eight music videos. Obviously you know what the filmmakers thought was the film's biggest selling point.

The Blu-ray has those, plus Born from a Boom Box, the film-within-a-film that Luke was making in the movie. There are also eight deleted scenes with a total running time of 20 minutes, 24 minutes if you play them with the intros by the director. It should come as no surprise that the film's video and audio are outstanding. This is a movie that lives and dies on the look and the sound, so if there were problems with the transfer or the mix, it would be fatal. Fortunately they are both up to the task. Black levels are deep, colors, pop, contrast is strong, details are amazing, etc. Plus the surround sound speakers get a real workout.

Looking at the price, the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack costs 40% more than the DVD. Granted, it comes with the DVD, but still on the high end of acceptable. On the other hand, the 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy Combo Pack costs just 25% more than the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack, so if you are planning on upgrading to 3D by next Christmas, it might be worth grabbing that version to future-proof your collection, as the marketing types tend to say.

The Verdict

There is nothing new in Step Up 3D and the secondary and couple are more interesting than the two leads. However, despite this, it is worth checking out for fans of the genre. Even if you are not a real fan of the genre, some of the dances are cool enough to make the rest of the movie worth sitting through. If you only want to rent, the DVD is fine, while the Blu-ray / DVD Combo Pack is an okay value for the money if you are looking to buy. Given the work put into the 3-D effects, the 3D Blu-ray / Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy Combo Pack is tempting, even if you have not yet made the leap, while if you have, there are so few 3-D choices out there, it is almost a must buy.

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Filed under: Video Review, Step Up 3D