Shamelessly derivative and laughably packed with every cliche imaginable, this second sequel pushes the formula into a full-on celebration of street dance.
And through sheer exuberance, it almost gets away with it. It's not good, but it's a lot of fun.
Luke (Malambri) runs a nightclub and dance studio out of the Brooklyn warehouse he inherited from his parents. Despite the fact that the club is packed to the rafters every night, he's behind on his mortgage and really needs to win the upcoming World Jam to save his crew's home. So he challenges his team, the Pirates, to go for it against their arch-rival competitors. New members include Natalie (Vinson), who sparks a romance with Luke, and Moose (Sevani), who neglects his university studies and his pining best pal Camille (Stoner) to dance in secret.
The only connections to the first film are Stoner (from Step Up) and Sevani (from Step Up 2 the Streets), plus a couple of surprise appearances. Otherwise, the filmmakers jettison the clash-of-the-dance-genres premise for a more straightforward sports-movie structure with a win-or-die competition, two formulaic rom-com subplots and a rather pointlessly evil villain in rival team leader Julien (Slaughter), who has a nefarious connection to one of Luke's dancers.
But the filmmakers also realise that the whole point of the exercise is the dancing, and they stage outrageously elaborate dance-offs and montage sequences that are choreographed for maximum 3D gimmickry using water, lights and anything else they can find. Including Slushees blowing in a gust of wind from a Subway vent. This is all done with smiley brio and hectic energy, and the dance sequences are truly exhilarating.
They're so good, in fact, that we can overlook the clunky dialog, which the actors struggle to deliver with any believability. But if their performances are often almost comically stiff, their dance moves are thoroughly entertaining. It's impossible to watch this film without enjoying every ridiculous moment, even if much of the enjoyment is in laughing at the corny script. "We can go anywhere," emotes Natalie, urging Luke to run off with her, "even California!" Oh come on, who would want to go there?
Jon Chu directs the third instalment to the Step up franchise. Following a similar plot to the previous two films, Luke is the leader of a team of street dancers from New York City and he's about to receive two new recruits, a freshman called Moose and a beautiful and talented dancer called Natalie. Together the troupe find themselves enrolled in the World Jam, the biggest breakdancing competition the world has to offer. The newly formed team must quickly bond and learn the tightest routines they can in order to impress and hopefully change their lives forever.
Continue: Step Up 3-D Trailer