In the absence of a decent or engaging storyline, a dance movie has to really step up to the mark in terms of its routines and break new ground. Failing that, it becomes like a drawn-out audition for a talent show, trying too hard to impress.
Luke (Malambri), who claims to be penniless, runs a kind of drop-in centre for youths who can dance. He also owns a nightclub, a pretty flash car and a room full of branded trainers and hi-tech sound systems, yet the bank is threatening to repossess his home, because he's behind on payments. Not only does he want to keep the den because it's a refuge for like-minded young people, but he also wants to make his now-deceased parents proud of his achievements. (Yes, every attempt is made to pull on the heart strings here but there's never any genuine emotion on show so it's hard to connect with the character).
Then there's Natalie (Vinson - of 'Home and Away' fame), the girl he has his eye on. She comes into the club every night, dances up a storm and intrigues him with her air of mystery. So he sets about convincing her to join his dance troupe, House of Pirates. If they're going to win the World Jam Dance Championships (and conveniently, the $100,000 that would save the den) then they'll need all the help they can get.
Enter Moose (Sevani), a freshman at NYU, who created quite a stir on his very first day at college by battling on campus with rival dance group House of Samurai. He too must be recruited to the happy house that Luke has built. But Moose has other commitments, as well as parents who don't want him to dance, while the lovely Natalie has a secret that could threaten the whole group.
'Step Up 3D', the third in this dance franchise, tries to engage but the plot holes are like craters on this troupe's dancefloor. The characters don't make you care enough about any of their predicaments and there are contradictions around every turn. What's more you don't even feel the intensity of battle, which should be magnified by the 3D element. There's no real spark between the rival groups and you aren't really blown away by anything they offer on the dancefloor. And just when you think a bit of romance might save the day, there's just zero chemistry between the leads. On a positive, the music's decent enough, but you could just buy the soundtrack or go to your local club if you're only after a few beats.