I started my review of "Step Up 2: The Streets" by saying...I generally dislike these movies. I can appreciate the athleticism and skill involved in the moves shown, but put them in a highlight video (or one of the several dance shows now popping up on TV) - for me, watching underdeveloped characters dance to try to save the rec center or win the big contest or whatever cliche plot is about as exciting as watching paint dry.
Still, I'll always give a movie a chance, and while I didn't find "Step Up 2" to be a classic, the picture did at least provide a terrific performance from newcomer Briana Evigan, who had terrific screen presence, athleticism and promise. The movie's plot offered no surprises, but director Jon Chu delivered a number of fluid, well-choreographed dance sequences and a slick look. The combination of Evigan and a heightened visual style did not exactly fare well with critics, but it did draw in the target audience, leading the picture to deliver impressive enough box office returns for not only another film to top off the trilogy, but one that was, as is the growing trend, offered in 3D (the Blu-Ray/DVD are not.)
Unfortunately, this picture does not focus on Evigan, but instead focuses on series supporting character Moose (Adam Sevani) and his friend Camille (Alyson Stoner). While Moose has come to college with Camille to study, he's quickly swept back into the world of dancing, and catches the eye of Luke (Rick Malambri), a documentary filmmaker who also heads a group of dancers. What follows is the expected - in this era, rather than having to save the rec center, the group of heroes has to dance to save their apartment from being foreclosed on by the bank. Natalie (Sharni Vinson), who joins the group and sets her sights on Luke, isn't what she initially seems, but it's not much of a surprise that she just may change her tune by the end.
The dance numbers are - once again - enormously impressive in terms of both energy/intensity and athleticism. Director Jon Chu also returns, bringing his caffeinated visual style to the dance sequences and elsewhere. Additionally, the third film does suffer from Evigan not returning, as while her performance in the second film was not going to win awards (although maybe MTV awards), it nevertheless was a pretty solid core for the picture. The focus in the third film is shuffled around and while the performances are fun - they aren't great, but the actors at least seem like they're having a good time - the film could use a stronger core and it's too bad that Evigan didn't return.
Overall, "Step Up 3" pulls together a formulaic story, but does offer the target audience a new set of dance sequences. I'll say that I liked the second film a bit better than this picture, but I'll guess the target audience for this third film will be pleased.
VIDEO: "Step Up 3" is presented by Touchstone in 1.85:1 (1080P/AVC). The DVD presentation did look quite good, and I thought it was certainly above-average for a recent theatrical release. However, as good as that presentation looked, the Blu-Ray presentation is, quite literally, a few steps further up. Sharpness and detail were often very impressive, as the picture generally showed off excellent definition and pleasing depth to the image. Some minor grain is seen on occasion, but otherwise, there were no noticable concerns to the presentation. Colors remained subdued on the street scenes, but some scenes do sport brighter, richer colors that are well-saturated and never smeary. Overall, this was an excellent presentation all-around.
SOUND: "Step Up 3" is presented in DTS-HD 7.1. The soundtrack flares up during the dance scenes, where the rears kick in with the dance music and ambience. Otherwise, as one might expect, this is a forward-heavy sound presentation that largely focuses on dialogue. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and rich, punchy music that has some very deep bass behind it.
EXTRAS: 8 music videos, "extra moves" feature, deleted scenes with introductions, "Born From a Boombox" short film.
Final Thoughts: I thought "Step Up 3" was a bit of a step down from the second film, but this is really a case of being in the target audience or not - I'm sure those in the target audience who liked the second film will find much of the same to like here. The Blu-Ray offers solid audio/video quality, as well as a few minor supplements. Recommended for fans.
The Film C+