Much like The Fast & The Furious franchise, this dance series seems to drift further away from the original concept and players – particularly Channing Tatum, the breakout star of the first movie — but it must be said that director Jon Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets) and his visual-effects team found ways to make expert use of the 3D technology to grant depth to the dancers’ movements (special effects in their own rights) and the music (particularly the bass-heavy beats).
Rather than focusing on Moose (Adam Sevani), the aspiring young holdout from the Baltimore-based Step Up 2 as he ventures to college in New York and battles against his parents’ desires for him to give up dance and become an engineer, this Step introduces a new Tatum-lite protagonist in Luke (Rick Malambri), the de facto head of an underground dance dorm populated by a largely anonymous crew of international place holders.
Luke recruits Moose, but Moose and his drama play out like a middling second movement to Luke’s leading-man looks and pedestrian dance moves.
Fortunately, Chu turns up kinetic energy in the dance sequences to make up for the clumsy, two-left-feet approach to storytelling. Step Up 3D knows how to bust a move, but when its pauses to catch its breath, the movie veers close to becoming a big bust. Grade: C-