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Rating History

Step Up 3
Step Up 3 (2010)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

New York's intense street dancing underground comes alive in eye-popping Digital 3D in the third installment of the "Step Up" franchise as the raw, passion-fueled culture goes global. A tight-knit group of street dancers, including Luke and Natalie, team up with NYU freshman Moose, and find themselves pitted against the world's best breakdancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever. (Touchstone Pictures)

Let's face it: By now, nobody goes to a STEP UP movie expecting plot and character development. If you do, I will personally go up to your front door and slap you in the face. The plot is so predictable that the only way you don't know what's coming is that this is the first film you've ever seen. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The sequels in this franchise never take itself too seriously. In fact, you can tell in this film that the clichéd plot was just an excuse to showcase some of the best dance sequences you will ever see in your life. The filmmakers know it's all BS. The audience knows it's all BS. You just go along with the ride.

The first film featured a highly idiotic soap opera that really didn't work for me. The sequel, however, was considerably more energetic and fun in almost every way. Jon Chu returns to the director's chair since STEP UP 2 and steps everything up (see what I did there?) on a whole new level. It has two things going for it: The crazy dance moves and 3D. And because of that, the film is totally worth watching in theaters. It's a visual feast and the songs are foot-popping fun!

Hey, you laugh now, thinking, "Does a movie like this really need to be in 3D?" Let's be honest here: Does ANY movie have to be in 3D? No, but studios make them in 3D anyway. STEP UP 3D utilizes the 3D technology in the best possible way since AVATAR. You read it right. The 3D was AH-MAZE-ING. From the opening studio logos to the end credits, your jaw will remain dropped. THIS is how you make a 3D movie. THIS is what 3D was made for. I can't believe it took a STEP UP movie to show studios out there how 3D should be utilize because this is why 3D was made in the first place. The true potential of this technology is used in the dance sequences. Wow oh wow. No mere words can describe the awesomeness of it all. More on that later. The technology is used in a gimmicky fun sense and to project a depth in many scenes. The 3D is so good that I already spent one huge paragraph writing about it.

The dance sequences are also insanely unreal. There comes a point where characters even defy gravity! How awesome is that?! And although new hip-hop moves are the main focus in the film, there are many other styles of dance that will appeal to every demographic, including a wonderful tango scene and a "Singin' in the Rain"-esque tribute, paying homage to the classic musicals in the past in all one shot, nonetheless.

The castmembers are efficient enough, although nothing to scream about. Rick Malambri and Sharni Vinson are sweet and believable in their roles. However, Adam G. Sevani and Alyson Stoner take the cake. Sevani returns from the second film and he's just a likable actor. It's hard to hate him. Stoner returns from the first film, in which she was a little kid! Sevani and Stoner have chemistry and their scenes in the film are just really sweet. However, my favorite characters in the film are the twins, Martín and Facundo Lombard. You'll see why once you see the film. There are also some surprise cameos here that I dare won't spoil because it would ruin the fun.

So overall, it all boils down to this: Are you the person who's willing to shell out $10+ to see this film in 3D just for the dance moves? If not, don't see the film. If you're a person who wants to see a plot and some great character development, don't see the film. However, if you just want to have a good time at the movies, STEP UP 3D delivers in every way. It's a highly energetic film that is so persistent in trying to "wow" the audience with fantastic dance moves. On top of that, it's one of the very few films out there that utilizes the 3D technology so well that it should be seen in 3D. STEP UP 3D is a cinematic experience.

Salt (2010)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

As a CIA officer, Evelyn Salt swore an oath to duty, honor and country. Her loyalty will be tested when a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy. Salt goes on the run, using all her skills and years of experience as a covert operative to elude capture. Salt's efforts to prove her innocence only serve to cast doubt on her motives, as the hunt to uncover the truth behind her identity continues and the question remains: "Who Is Salt?" (Columbia Pictures)

SALT is preposterous, absurd, and unbelievable. The filmmakers know this very well. Yet, it's an extremely well made action flick. Unlike INCEPTION, SALT never tries to be groundbreaking cinema. It's never too ambition and wrapped in its own world. It never tries to be anything more than what it really is: A highly enjoyable action film. AKA: The perfect summer movie. Because of this, SALT succeeds in almost every level.

Star Angelina Jolie actually brings the film on another level. She's just very impressive in her role, bringing an emotional depth for her character and doing the terrific stunt works throughout the film. She does it all here, leaping from the tops of vehicles driving at high speed on the highway, making an exploding device with a fire extinguisher and some household chemicals, and running with no shoes on from one place to another, just to name a few. She's clearly THE female action hero. Liev Schreiber doesn't seem to have much to do but he's as good as always. I also liked seeing Chiwetel Ejiofor in more films because he's a unique actor.

The film is also filled with many chase scenes that are done really well that is sure to pump up your adrenaline. The action sequences are surprisingly inventive and ingenious as well, the soundtrack by the brilliant James Newton Howard accompanying it with skill and playfulness. Let's not forget the light use of CGI and camera shakiness, making the experience a whole lot better than it already is.

Overall, SALT shows us that Angelina Jolie is still the great action star that she always was and that action flicks can still be well made. While it won't change the world, it's a very entertaining summer action film that is sure to result in the same reaction the condiment of the very same name produced.

Inception (2010)
6 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

INCEPTION is a film in which you want to go in knowing nothing because it's best seen with no prior knowledge. So I'm just going to not say a word about the plot and have the film unfold in front of you, sometimes literally. It's pretty difficult to explain what INCEPTION really is because it's damn packed with so many interesting ideas. Really, when you come out of the theater, you'll only think, "What did I just see?" The film is filled with so much ambition and so many original ideas that it captivates you. In fact, I think this is the fastest 150 minute film I've ever seen because it felt like 80 minutes! I really wanted to see more when the credits rolled.

Unfortunately, INCEPTION isn't a perfect film. It falls short on its ambition. Some ideas weren't as developed as I hope they would be and others weren't presented clear enough. In fact, it's as if the characters spoke in another type of jargon exclusively made for psychologists pursuing in the career of dreams. Also, the story isn't all that special. Another common complaint you might hear about the film is that the characters are flat. It's true. The film presents us with six or seven characters but does absolutely nothing with them. Leonardo DiCaprio's character is the only character that's fleshed out. In some cases, I didn't care for the characters when their lives were at stake.

Still, the performances by the ensemble cast are really good. I enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Tom Hardy in their roles a lot. I might not be the only person to notice this but I thought Leonardo DiCaprio played the exact same character as he did in SHUTTER ISLAND. I couldn't get past Ken Watanabe's thick accent. It was hard to understand him in many of his scenes. Marion Cotillard did a great job, though.

The film is also visually intricate, if that makes sense and even that description doesn't give the film justice. Again, it's really hard to explain. The visual effects were really excellent along with the action scenes but don't expect this film to be filled with action. The soundtrack by Hans Zimmer (AKA: One of the best composers ever) is fantastic, much like Zimmer's other soundtracks.

Overall, INCEPTION is a flawed but seriously excellent film that presents some very, very, very interesting ideas. It's a wholly original film, which is great considering the amount of remakes, re-imaginings, sequels, prequels, etc. that we've gotten in the past few years, let alone this year. The characters could have been fleshed out a lot more. Still, I was absolutely engaged throughout by the story, and Christopher Nolan's ingenious script and direction just sucks you in. This is the perfect cure for this year's lackluster summer.