Archive | August, 2010

Vampires Suck

30 Aug

Title: Vampires Suck
Year: 2010
Directors: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Writers: Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Starring: Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Christopher N. Riggi, Ken Jeong, Anneliese van der Pol
MPAA Rating: PG-13, crude sexual content, comic violence, language and teen partying
Runtime: 82 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 3.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 6%

Vampires Suck does indeed suck, I’m not giving it my lowest grade because it at least wasn’t a film that tried to be good, these genre-spoof films never attempt to be good movies, they just attempt to be stupid and make some cash out of it, and this one succeeds at that, it has already earned more money than it cost to make and it will keep on making a bit of cash, so yeah, it’s not a blockbuster but it earns some nice money, and that’s all it aimed to do. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I respect how bad it is, if anything because it at least didn’t try to pretend otherwise.

Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer have never been great at this game, their films are always horrible, and I doubt they’ll get better anytime soon. This one, if anything, I guess is a bit better than some of the rest they have made, but these guys just know that some people will go see these films to see if they can laugh at the genres they are spoofing. However, I thin that the audiences are now starting to realize that’s not really gonna happen and that the laughs in these films are pretty much nowhere to be found.

Even though Vampires Suck, as I said, has already made more than it cost to make, its not gonna make as much bank as some of the other films from the Friedberg-Seltzer duo. 2006’s Date Movie made around $85 million on a $20 million budget, same goes for 2007’s Epic Movie and 2008’s Meet the Spartans (though that one had a $30 million budget), but the last one they made, Disaster Movie, made about $35 million, and this one right here is en route to make something like that, by this I mean that people seem to be getting a bit tired of this, so hopefully we won’t be getting these films five years from now.

And I won’t go long about this film at all, it’s really not worth it, if you’re gonna go to a theatre to see this film you already know what to expect and you don’t need a review to tell you that. The thing about Vampires Suck is that the vampire genre is one that knows its own weaknesses very well and that doesn’t shy away from them at all, they just roll with the punches, not to mention that the target demographic with these sort of films is the very same demographic that devour the Twilight films, and that’s to say that its a very passionate demographic that most likely won’t be paying to see a film that trashes their beloved Cullen’s, which I guess is part of the reason this one isn’t doing terrific business.

And this is my cue to end the review, I really don’t recommend this one at all, not even if you like spoofs that Friedberg and Seltzer have made in the past (and I doubt there are many who seriously do), this one just offers no laughs and relies on daft genitalia-infused gags that feel too old for us to really care about them anymore. So yes, even if you think that vampires suck, you’re gonna find that this films sucks even more.

Grade: D

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

26 Aug

Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Year: 2010
Director: Edgar Wright
Writers: Michael Bacall and Edgar Wright, based on the comic book series by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Alison Pill, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Brie Larson, Aubrey Plaza, Satya Bhabha, Mae Whitman, Shota Saito, Keita Saito
MPAA Rating: PG-13, stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references
Runtime: 112 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 8.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 81%

This was another film I was intensely psyched about, directed by a guy who has done one of my favorite TV shows (Spaced) and two seriously amazing films (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz), based on a series of graphic novels I’m a huge geek for, and with a cast that includes Michael Cera, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza and Brie Larson. There was seriously nothing not to like about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World when it was announced.

Then the teaser trailers and pictures started surfacing online, and it all further proved that we were right, that this was going to be all sorts of amazing. Then came words from Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith and Jason Reitman, all of whom were shown a rough cut of the film by Edgar Wright and apparently loved it. Then fanboys like me started craving more and more, and we were given teasers after teasers, and the full trailers, and a Comic-Con panel that was packed like crazy, this was all amazing, and, to me, so is the film as a whole, a wait that was sincerely well worth it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the ultimate geek movie, filled with references to videogames and other pop-culture items, and a visual style that’s truly like nothing that’s ever been on screen before, plus it really does capture the quirky sense of humor and fast pace of the graphic novels perfectly, something fans of the source material like me are bound to appreciate. This is the film that will get all the ones who said “Inception is the only true original film of the whole summer” to think again.

I’m trying to think about something bad to say about this film, but I can’t, I guess one could say the script is kinda just-okay, but it’s more than that because it still manages to capture the essence of the source material perfectly, and that’s all Mr. Wright and co-writer Michael Bacall should have aimed to do in the first place, to get themselves to emulate the speedy and fun style of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s comics. They make this one feel like a videogame, when the title character kills someone the dead guy turns into coins, something that not only makes it way easier to get a gentler rating from the MPAA, but that also guarantees more than a few geekgasms from everyone in the audience.

Scott is twenty-two, and he’s the bass player in a band called Sex Bob-omb (after the Super Mario character), and he’s your typical guy really, he likes good music, knows a lot of fun yet useless facts, has a girlfriend and yet swoons over other girls he assumes he can’t get and he hangs out with his gay bestfriend/roommate. And then he meets Ramona Flowers, one of those awesome girls he thought he could never get, he meets her while he’s still with Knives Chau, his high-school-attending rebound girlfriend, but his relationship status with her quickly changes so he can go in pursuit of Ramona. There’s a catch however, you see, to get to be with Ramone he has to first fight and defeat her seven evil exes. And that’s when the film distances itself from reality and goes into videogame/awesome mode.

The battles look exactly like a videogame would (and the actual tie-in 8-bit Scott Pilgrim videogame is pretty damn rad on its own right) and they’re amazing, you’ll find yourself pretty much drooling over the visuals and the bold look of it all. It’s not so much that this was taken from reality as it is that this is Mr. Wright’s and Mr. O’Malley’s reality, and it’s one kick-ass reality to be in for close to two hours (or much longer than that if you’re like me and have enjoyed repeat viewings). The characters are totally awesome, from all of the evil exes, which seem truly out of this world, to the more humane characters like the roommate Wallace Wells or Stacey, Scott’s younger sister who’s played by the always lovely and amazing Anna Kendrick, who began dating Edgar Wright while shooting, thus instantly putting them in the Top 5 Most Amazing Couples list.

Edgar Wright is not a filmmaker’s filmmaker, he’s something that, to me, is even better, and that’s a filmgoers filmmaker, a guy that learned from watching and loving films and graduated into making them. Technically his films may not be the very best (though they’re pretty outstanding still), but all his films have a ton of moments that make regular movie fans, and especially fans of the specific genre, go completely nuts. He just seriously knows how to create some seriously pleasing visual moments, look at Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and there you’ll see some bits that are just unbelievable, and he adds to his quota with this one.

In Scott Pilgrim vs. the World the movie there’s a lot of what made Scott Pilgrim, the graphic novels, so damn great. And that’s the fact that beyond the fast style, beyond the awesome fights and the loud music there’s a helluva lot of honesty to these characters, a lot of what it feels to be young and in love, and the doubts that go with all of that, this is after all a coming-of-age story, it’s just the raddest one ever told.

Grade: A+

The Expendables

24 Aug

Title: The Expendables
Year: 2010
Director: Sylvester Stallone
Writers: Dave Callaham and Sylvester Stallone, based on the story by Dave Callaham
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eric Roberts, Arnold Schwarzenegger
MPAA Rating: R, strong action and bloody violence throughout, and for some language
Runtime: 103 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

The Expendables is one of those films that seriously delivers on the promise it made, and whether you like the film or not is based on whether you liked that promise when it was first announced or not. When I first heard the proposition I thought it would make for some good fun, you know, some nice old-school kick-ass action stuff, with all the older action heroes of Hollywood having fun together. I was sold on this from the minute I first saw the line-up for it, I didn’t expect it to be good, which it really isn’t, but I expected it to be, at least, quite a bit of fun, and on that front I would say it does deliver.

Jason Statham, the young one of the group, is nearly 38, and he’s become one of the biggest action stars in the world thanks to his leading roles in the Transporter and Crank franchises, the credits of the rest of the cast I don’t think I even have to point out, by this I just meant to say that this is the film that has the biggest action stars ever put together in one film, kind of like a cheesy-actiony-1980’s-Hollywood Ocean’s Eleven.

I mean, seriously, had Jean-Claude Van Damme and Wesley Snipes been able to accept roles in this one it would have been the ultimate action-star reunion film. Unfortunately, though, Mr. Snipes, because of his tax problems, wasn’t allowed to leave the country and thus had to turn it down, and Mr. Van Damme rejected a role which he deemed didn’t have enough substance, which sounds positively idiotic if you take a look at every single role that man has ever played. He wouldn’t know substance if it hit him in the face.

The storytelling is pretty damn bad, mind you, it’s all a bit too stale, just incoherent and full-on gratuitous. But I mean, the action is there, and Sly and Jet Li and everyone, so that made it work for me, and that’s where my problem lies with this film, I love the concept of getting all these guys together, and thus I do like the end result of the film because the action is pretty savage and everything, but, if the story had been there, this one could have gone down as an all-time great action flick, just, you know, if some imagination had gone into this one the result would have probably been totally different, and much much better.

This one opened on the same weekend as Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, two vastly superior films, and it became the top earner, it just spent this past weekend as the number one highest-grossing film at the box office again, so yeah, this film’s appeal is pretty obvious, and it’s selling well stateside and should continue doing great business internationally. And that’s what I mean, everyone will pay to see these guys team up together, telling a story of The Expendables, a group of pretty raw mercenaries which we see, from that very first introductory scene, do quite a helluva lot of damage, they are then hired to go to a Latin American country and defeat an evil dictator and a renegade CIA agent who’s involved in his business.

Mr. Stallone isn’t a great action director, but he knows how to do the stuff he does, which is huge scenes that look like something from a B-movie, he does that seriously well. And if not well, then at least he does it in a way that has a wide appeal to a rather big audience, this is one of the definitive macho films, with cigars and tattoos and explosions all in full display. This is not, however, a film to be taken seriously, this is a film to buy a big box of popcorn to and to sit down and enjoy, and, as I said at the beginning of my review, how much you like The Expendables can be sort of directly measured by just how much you liked the initial proposition of having these guys reunited for an action film, because substance you won’t get, but you and I, much unlike Jean-Claude Van Damme, know this isn’t a film a that really needs it.

Grade: B-

Eat Pray Love

20 Aug

Title: Eat Pray Love
Year: 2010
Director: Ryan Murphy
Writers: Ryan Murphy and Jennifer Salt, adapting from the memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert
Starring: Julia Roberts, Javier Bardem, Billy Crudup, Richard Jenkins, Viola Davis, James Franco, Christine Hakim
MPAA Rating: PG-13, brief strong language, some sexual references and male rear nudity
Runtime: 133 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 4.7
Rotten Tomatoes: 38%

Eat Pray Love is a film I ended up liking way more than I initially thought I would, I thought it was a seriously good film, shot on some beautiful locations and starring one of the most charming women to ever grace the screens, Julia Roberts. Yes, it was a bit too shallow, and it didn’t carry through the book’s emotional journey in the most effective of ways, but it’s still a very good film, and I won’t tire of saying just how amazing Ms. Roberts is, she’s truly one of a kind, the real definition of a movie star, something that’s becoming all too rare to come across these days.

Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir upon which this film is based was a phenomenon when it came out at the start of 2006, and it went on to spend over three years on the New York Times Bestselling list. It was a book about herself, a woman who after her divorce went to Italy and India and Bali, in a quest to find the perfect balance between body and mind. In the movie version of this tale Ms. Roberts would obviously be the perfect choice to play Ms. Gilbert, she’s insanely beautiful, wonderfully funny and seriously intelligent, and that’s what the Gilbert role needed to be. And yeah, there are quite a lot of handsome men, led by Javier Bardem, that will have the film’s target demographic even more interested in the film than they already would be.

I read the memoir a bit over a year ago, and I liked it, I liked the sincerity with which Ms. Gilbert wrote, I liked seeing how she pretty much came out and said that her marriage ended because she got tired of it and walked out on her husband, which is played by Billy Crudup in this film. I found Ms. Gilbert to be rather remarkable and quite real, which is why, I imagine, the millions of women worldwide connected with her in the way they did. This was a woman who wasn’t pretending to be perfect, she was just writing about a time in her life that would prove to be revelatory, about the feelings that got her to that point and about what she did after that.

The ‘eat’ portion of the book and film take place in the eating capital of world, Italy, and if those scenes don’t get you hungry then there’s something kind of wrong with you, and the locations are gorgeous and she gets to meet the James Franco character and it’s all very lovely, and a terrific start to the film. The ‘pray’ part of the film sends us to India for three months, where we dabble in meditation and try to find our spiritual side, it also sends us to Richard Jenkins, one of the finest supporting actors we have working today, who gives us, along with Ms. Roberts, one of the more emotional moments in the film. And finally, for the ‘love’ part, we go to Bali and we meet Javier Bardem, who in Vicky Cristina Barcelona showed he has the charming, suave and handsome role down to a science, and he plays his part really well, he’s great as Felipe in this film, a man in similar situations as Gilbert’s and a man with whom she begins a fling.

Yes, this is a chick-flick, and one the over-25 female demographic will eat up. And why shouldn’t they? They are the ones that read the memoir, they are the ones who love Julia Roberts (though we all should, she’s perfect), and they’re the ones who can relate like crazy to everything that’s shown here, the one’s who’ll laugh and cry the most at the theatre. And when one is reviewing movies I think one should rate them in comparison to similar films, or in context of what the movie aims to be, and that’s why I’ll give a good grade to this film, because I thought it did what it set itself out to do, and it did it superbly well.

Plus, you know what, I actually loved the fact that this was a film for women about women, because it was a take on that sort of film that we actually haven’t seen in a while. I mean, the golden standard in Hollywood for these sort of films is to have a woman go on a journey in which finding a man is an essential part of, that’s the formula that has been fed to, and been gloriously eaten up by the masses, but this one’s different, this is a journey about a woman who just wants to do her own thing, and finding a man is not her top priority when embarking on her journey. And yeah, she ends up finding Mr. Bardem’s character, Felipe, but that was by chance, and the journey was just about her embracing herself and living life.

And I think that’s what the female audience wants nowadays the most, to have their main female characters do stuff for themselves and not for men, and that’s at least partly why, I think, a film like Julie & Julia managed to connect so much with women and make three times its budget. Not to mention The Blind Side, which made more than ten times its budget, and earned its female leading lady, Sandra Bullock, an Academy Award.

Eat Pray Love is a film that’s very sure of itself, a genuine one, one that translates Ms. Gilbert’s memoir tremendously, I mean yeah, it came off at times as a bit too shallow, and the whole emotional weight the book had wasn’t carried through as amazingly as it was in the book, but this is still a very good film, one that stars Julia Roberts, America’s sweetheart, in a witty role perfect for her style and that was directed by Ryan Murphy a man who, if you have seen his television series Nip/Tuck, can be harsh but that, if you have seen Glee, his other series, can also be quite tender, and he’s tender in this one, tender about the journey he’s helping tell. And yeah, in the end with Felipe I guess this one thwarts the idea I stated in the above paragraph about this one being about feminine independency and not so much about finding a man, but I stand by that statement above, I think the man was just a consequence about being so independent, she didn’t set out to find love. Just like I didn’t set out to enjoy Eat Pray Love nearly as much as I did, this one was just a joy to watch for me.

Grade: B+

Twelve

19 Aug

Title: Twelve
Year: 2010
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Jordan Melamed, adapted from the novel by Nick McDonell
Starring: Chace Crawford, Emma Roberts, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Rory Culkin, Billy Magnussen, Zoë Kravitz, Kiefer Sutherland
MPAA Rating: R, strong drug content, alcohol abuse, language, sexual material, brief nudity and some violence – all involving teens
Runtime: 93 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 4%

Twelve is quite a pretentious little film, directed by Joel Schumacher, a guy who hits some (I’m thinking Phone Booth) but misses quite a few as well (I’m obviously thinking Batman & Robin), and who will now have to count this one amongst his misses, a film that had a seriously fantastic novel as a source material and that completely squanders any sort of potential the novel provided it with, this one just drags along boringly for an hour and a half.

I like Chace Crawford, I mean, he’s not that terrific an actor but he seems like a nice guy and, if you watch Gossip Girl, you’ll see that if he’s cast right he can be quite okay to watch, but if you watch Twelve then you’ll see just how horrible he is when he’s cast as seriously wrong as he was in this one. In this one he is White Mike, the guy who’s the drug dealer to exactly the sort of character Mr. Crawford plays in Gossip Girl, rich Upper East Siders, and he’s the antonym of convincing as White Mike, and considering that’s our main character I’m speaking of then you know we’re off to a horrible start.

I guess the genre and tonality of this film will grant it comparisons to Less Than Zero, the 1987 film adaptation of the outstanding Bret Easton Ellis novel starring a  young Robert Downey Jr., and while the source material for Twelve is, just like the Less Than Zero book was, pretty damn good, the page-to-screen transition result is widely different. This is a film that just gets entirely lost in its conceited demeanor and ends up nowhere.

Kiefer Sutherland narrates this film, he previously lent his voice as the unseen sniper on Mr. Schumacher’s far superior Phone Booth, and while the effectiveness of Mr. Sutherland’s voice cannot be doubted, it is after all part of the reason why America and the world loved Jack Bauer for nearly a decade, it’s just overused in this film, the narrator taking up way too much time on an already short film. And even though it’s short as far as running time goes, this one feels seriously long, dragging itself along rather boringly in between scenes of crazed teenagers, buzzed on the new drug named ‘twelve’, a hybrid of coke and ecstasy that White Mike got from Lionel, his drug supplier played by 50 Cent, the rapper-actor who’s not entirely bad at acting, but hasn’t yet found a single film that’s decent enough to be in.

There are some other characters, Emma Roberts is okay enough as Mike’s childhood best friend, Billy Magnussen is actually pretty damn good as an addict straight out of rehab, and Rory Culkin plays his younger brother. But the thing is that Twelve is just a highly stylized vision of a weekend full of teenage depravity, a vision that I didn’t like at all, because for once, we are introduced to way too many characters in too little time for there to be some actual solid character development, and, secondly, because what little character development there is done by the narrator telling stuff to us, and not that much by actual substantial stuff happening. That right there can only mean one thing, Mr. Schumacher knew his cast wasn’t talented enough to have stuff come through to us successfully, and thus had to go to a narrator to tell us stuff his own actors couldn’t, and that’s just rather sad.

And that’s rather sad because, guess what, the cast isn’t really that bad, except for Mr. Crawford who as I said was just simply horribly miscast, but Ms. Roberts and Mr. Magnussen both gave quite decent performances, and those performances most likely would have been much better had they been given room to grow. So yeah, Mr. Schumacher, this is kind of your fault, this film was never posed to be great, but still, it could have been a nice option to go see had you given your actors some room to be good, and had you cut the crap on your over-stylizing, slow-motion and shaky editing for instance, that stuff just can’t fix a film that was already broken.

Grade: C-

Middle Men

19 Aug

Title: Middle Men
Year: 2010
Director: George Gallo
Writers: George Gallo and Andy Weiss
Starring: Luke Wilson, Giovanni Ribisi, Gabriel Macht, James Caan, Laura Ramsey, Jacinda Barrett, Kelsey Grammer, Terry Crews, Kevin Pollak
MPAA Rating: R, strong sexual content, nudity, language, drug use and violence
Runtime: 105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.8
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%

The script of Middle Men is what ends up hurting this film, because this one really could have been rather good had the screenplay been solid, and I was sorta bothered by that fact, especially because every single castmember, especially Luke Wilson, gives a good performance. But alas, the great ensemble piece this one had the potential to turn out to be was ultimately thwarted be a weak script.

I guess this one will earn some comparisons to Boogie Nights, Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1997 masterpiece, this one being the internet-age equivalent of that one, but Boogie Nights is a true masterpiece, while this one is just decent enough, entertaining but with some considerable flaws, so the comparison ends with the theme and both of them being amusing hard-R films.

The film is essentially about how online pornography came to be, about the online billing companies designed for the many men who in the early stages of internet dominance were willing to put out their credit cards for some pornography on their monitors. And as just that the film works, it combines the thematic material of the aforementioned Boogie Nights with some of the characteristics that gave the gritty and ambitious look to another great 90’s film, Martin Scorsese’s Casino. As I said before, this one isn’t nearly as perfect as Boogie Nights was, nor is it as good as Casino for that matter, but it is pretty damn entertaining and interesting how director George Gallo tells the true story of how one of the internet’s most prominent businesses came to be.

But, as I won’t tire of saying when I discuss this film, the script was what prevented it from being truly great. The aforementioned Boogie Nights had an Oscar-nominated screenplay (Paul Thomas Anderson lost to Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Good Will Hunting that night), and Casino had a pretty solid screenplay, too. And though the huge scope and big ideas are all there on screen, the script for Middle Men does absolutely nothing to make these concepts come across as genuine or effective, and it all gets lost on a film that uses over-used techniques in these sort of films, such as voice-overs, to no real benefit.

The stories are all over the place and can’t get tied up in any sort of coherent way, I mean, this is a film that tries to tell too much stuff out of an extensive topic, and that just can’t be done in an under-two-hours feature film, and the voice-over seems too epic for a film that really isn’t, though, as I said, the guy that does all the talking, Jack Harris, is played by Luke Wilson in what is definitely one of the better performances he’s ever given.

Jack is a guy we get presented to as a stand-up family guy, but once we get to see a bit more of him, and see the many shades under which Mr. Wilson plays him we get to know that this is a guy that has some dark stuff going around, and that, even though he does indeed love his family, will do quite a lot to fulfill the aspirations he has for himself and his wife, played by a wonderful Jacinda Barrett.

This is a story we know all to well from different sort of films, the guy that is just a straightup guy with some ambitions, he finds something that will fulfill them and then some, but to pursue that opportunity he must compromise some stuff, and he most likely won’t know when to stop. But to see it based on internet pornography, a much more modern phenomenon, is pretty entertaining, and it’s based on true events, on the guys that invented anonymous credit card billing to get photos scanned from porn magazines on your computer. Jack is hired to manage the up-and-coming business, but they quickly start making more money than they know what to do with, and start venturing into far more perilous situations that, at one point or another, actually involve the Russian mob and a kidnapping.

Middle Men is a film I sincerely enjoyed, and I would probably give good word about it if someone asked me about it, but if I had to pinpoint one problem is that it dealt with both the implications of getting involved in such a business, and of the new age of pornography, but it dealt with both of these topics in a sort of mild-mannered way, and I would have much rather have had the film ditch one of those topics for exploration in exchange for a full-depth insight into the other, and not just be in between of the two not really going deeply into either, that’s another thing that separated this one from the masterpiece that Boogie Nights was. But yeah, while Boogie Nights it’s not, this one’s still a pretty okay film that boasts a great performance and introduces a topic that strangely enough hasn’t been exploited that much in films, and that actually has a helluva lot of potential so, if only for that, Middle Men is worth a shot.

Grade: B-

Step Up 3D

17 Aug

Title: Step Up 3D
Year: 2010
Director: Jon Chu
Writers: Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer, based on the characters by Duane Adler
Starring: Rick Malambri, Adam Sevani, Sharni Vinson, Alyson Stoner
MPAA Rating: PG-13, brief strong language
Runtime: 107 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 4.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 65%

I won’t go ahead and call Step Up 3D a disappointment, because it really isn’t, I mean, I didn’t like it much, but the thing is, I didn’t like it because the plot was seriously weak, and the acting was pretty terrible. But people don’t go see this franchise to see a kickass plot and/or Oscar-worthy acting, they go because of the dancing sequences that look seriously wicked. And, in Step Up 3D, the choreography is as good as it’s ever been, if not better, and the whole film is pretty damn stylish, and fans of the franchise will, I would imagine, definitely dig the latest entry, but to those of us who aren’t necessarily the hugest supporters, and/or prefer to get our dancing fix from TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, this will be a film we wouldn’t really mind skipping.

Good dance films don’t always have tremendous acting, and I know it would be foolish to expect that from all of them, and some, like this one, do rely solely on the dancing, but what differentiates those good dance flicks from this very mediocre one is that, in those films, the dancing sort of moves the plot along, stuff is said in the dance moves that the actor’s aren’t talented enough to make sound believable with words. There are some bits in Step Up 3D when the dances move along the plot and help the actors tell the stories, that whole dance number that was set up to a remix of Fred Astaire song is a pretty good example, but for the most part the dances, though quite fun to watch, stand alone, and don’t do much to further help move along the storyline.

The first two entries in the franchise were quite profitable, the first one made nearly $115 million on a $12 million budget, the second one had a gross of nearly $150 million, and this one, even though it has only spent two weekends at the box office, has made less than $45 million so far, which means it will end up being the lowest grossing installment in the franchise by a fair bit, and that’s something to say, considering this one had the added cash flow that comes from the pricier 3D tickets. I think this is all because, what with the aforementioned So You Think You Can Dance and other dance-related forms of entertainment being available now, audiences are getting their dancing fix elsewhere, and won’t be willing to put out the cash for something they can see on their TV’s, unless it can offer something more, and, as I just said, this one’s all cool dance routines and no plot, and you can get all of that without so much as moving from your couch at home.

I hate action flicks that are just a plot to get to the next explosion, so it would come as no surprise that I’d hate the plot in this one, which involves the dance crew trying to save their studio, because they only use it to, every fifteen minutes or so, get involved in some intricate dance sequences that, while it may look pretty cool, does nothing plot-wise, in that sense this one could have been better off as a series of YouTube videos, because really, even though they use the plot to get from Dance Scene A to Dance Scene B, both of those parts would have been just as good if enjoyed separately.

The cast is full of mostly unknown actors and, as I said, they don’t have that much acting chops, nor are they given a material anywhere close to good for them to shape a good character out of. Adam G. Sevani, the main male castmember, has some charm to him, but his character isn’t developed at all, so that’s really all there is to it. And I won’t speak of the rest of the cast because it’s kind of downhill after Mr. Sevani.

I must, however, say this for Step Up 3D, and that is that the 3D is actual 3D, and not some cheap conversion done in post-production, and that’s something to applaud, because most movies nowadays are just doing the cheap conversion to try and reel in the cash from the pricier tickets. This one may not be enjoying that much success financially, but at least the 3D was done right, and it actually wasn’t a bothersome 3D like 90% of the films that employ the technology nowadays, so that’s actually a huge kudos I’ll give to this film. Unfortunately though, that’s also the only real kudos I’ll be giving it.

Grade: C+