Nipping smartly into cinemas before the wheels come off the 3D movie bandwagon, teen musical StreetDance 3D, which had its world premiere in London last night, is the UK’s first home grown live-action 3D film: a brash, bouncy, swaggering showcase for a bunch of reality TV stars who bust their moves within the tight confines of a strictly formulaic storyline.
Essentially, the plot’s a Brit version of Hollywood’s Save the Last Dance and Step Up films, in which street-smart hip-hop dancers shake-up the lives of stuck-up ballet students. Here, the outsider is Nichola Burley’s sassy northerner Carly, who causes a stir at a stuffy London ballet school with her street dance crew.
They’ve just reached the finals of the UK Street Dance Championships, but after the abrupt departure of Carly’s boyfriend, troupe leader Jay (Ukweli Roach), their prospects seem to be unravelling fast. They need somewhere to rehearse and, lo, in a contrivance even screenwriter Jane English seems half-hearted about, ballet teacher Charlotte Rampling offers them space in her posh school in return for injecting her over-drilled charges with a jolt of street energy and intensity.
Naturally, the snooty ballet types don’t like the idea of sharing their studio with a gang of b-boys and girls. It’s tutus v hoodies, Jets v Sharks, but with popping and locking and moody face-offs at the barre instead of flick knives and rumbles. Soon enough, the antagonism turns to mutual respect (“Bendy chicks!’ leer the street dancers), while Carly has her eye on a jiggy pas de deux with buff ballet boy Tomas (Richard Winsor).
There are, of course, various obstacles to overcome before the finals, including arch-rivals The Surge (played by Britain’s Got Talent stars Flawless). The viewer, meanwhile, is kept alert dodging the objects flying out of the screen as tyro directors Max Giwa and Dania Pasquini take advantage of the film’s 3D to try and poke your eye out. (A food fight in the ballet school means there’s even more stuff at hand to chuck at the viewer.) Music promo veterans Giwa and Pasquini are also rather over-fond of Matrix-style bullet-time shots – freezing the action while the camera glides around the protagonists.
Yet even if the plot is clichéd, much of the acting shaky and most of the 3D effects cheesy, the film has a zippy vibrancy that makes it hard to dislike. The street dancers deliver gravity-defying flips and spins, Rampling adds class, and BGT 2008 teen winner George Sampson, shoehorned into the plot, supplies cuteness. Shame, though, that there wasn’t a role for Stavros Flatley.
On general release from 21st May.