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Movie Review

Lord of the Dance 3D

‘Lord of the Dance’ falls flat — even in 3-D

Michael Flatley, pictured performing at an arena in Berlin, is the subject of the film “Lord of the Dance 3D.’’ (Stephan Schraps/Supervision Media) Michael Flatley, pictured performing at an arena in Berlin, is the subject of the film “Lord of the Dance 3D.’’ (Stephan Schraps/Supervision Media)
By Terry Byrne
Globe Correspondent / March 17, 2011

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The advantage of a live stage experience is its 3-D quality, so it’s not surprising Michael Flatley, a.k.a. the “Lord of the Dance,’’ takes the opportunity to record his popular show in the 3-D format. Unfortunately, Marcus Viner, who has directed multi-camera shoots for countless rock bands, has a remarkably two-dimensional approach to this production.

There are lots of close-ups of Flatley’s lightning-fast feet, as well as some cheesy slow-motion leaps, but no sense of the complexity or continuity of the dance combinations. This revival of Flatley’s 15-year-old extravaganza, which combined Irish step dancing with modern jazz, was designed for arena stages — the film was shot at performances last November in Dublin, London, and Berlin — so the scale of the production, which includes vivid video backdrops, doesn’t lend itself to intimate close-ups, and Viner does not know how to balance those two perspectives.

Most films of performances like this take advantage of the backstage access, offering insights into the rehearsal process, the rigors of touring, and unscripted comments from participants. “Lord of the Dance 3D,’’ however, opens with an odd montage of black-and-white photos and brief videos narrated by Flatley. But watching in 3-D a tractor trailer being unloaded doesn’t make it any more dramatic, and a brief sequence of male dancers doing push-ups backstage (in costume) says little about what’s required of the ensemble.

Although Flatley tells us he may spend eight hours working on a 30-second piece, we see only brief snippets of rehearsals; and although he tells us he “can’t be a great general without a great army,’’ the individual dancers remain silent.

At 53, Flatley may be nearing the end of his record-breaking tapping speed and wants to document his performance before he retires. Fair enough, but if you’re a fan of this Lord, find a copy of the 1999 DVD “Lord of the Dance’’ and don’t waste your time with this flat vanity piece.

Terry Byrne can be reached at trbyrne@aol.com.

LORD OF THE DANCE 3D Directed by: Marcus Viner

Conceived and choreographed by and starring: Michael Flatley

At: Boston Common, Fenway, suburbs

Running time: 110 minutes

Unrated

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