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Movie review: Michael Flatley’s 'Lord of the Dance 3D' in theaters nationwide

March 16, 2011 | 12:15 pm


Michael Flatley's footwork may blaze, but in his latest concert movie, “Lord of the Dance 3D,” the Irish step dance phenom is stoking the fires of an out-sized ego. Having shot to fame as a charismatic hoofer in the original show, “Riverdance,” Chicago-born Flatley made use of his machine-gun tapping and Liberace-style glitz to create the 1996 arena spectacle, “Lord of the Dance.”  Other shows soon followed, including “Feet of Flames,” with Flatley (whose legs have reportedly been insured for $40 million) amassing a personal fortune.

No doubt running on, er, Celtic tiger blood and hubris DNA, Flatley decided to jeté onto the 3-D bandwagon, with Marcus Viner directing a film of the Terpsichore’s 2010 triumphant return to Dublin.  (“Lord of the Dance” was last seen there in 1998).  Now 52, Flatley might still be a draw in person, but the film, opening on St. Patrick’s day, offers few close-ups of his flying feet, the rhythmically complex percussive sounds a welcome relief from Ronan Hardiman’s tedious New Age-y score, though it does highlight Flatley’s every stallion tear across the stage, his endless supply of spangly monogrammed leather jackets and the beads of sweat occasionally dotting his über-tanned face.

Alas, the show’s raggedy good-versus-evil narrative remains, with Flatley’s bejeweled Lord of the Dance belt yielding untold powers.  Who knew?  Rival male battalions (think stiff-torsoed Sharks and jitter-footed Jets, without Jerome Robbins’ choreography but with thundering herd-like unison), a host of hooded Druids, bourréing bikini-clad sylphs and a harlequin-esque Little Spirit (Kate Pomfret), are all part of this Irish stew. 

So, too, is Tom Cunningham’s Don Dorcha (the Dark Lord).  Arms crossed and sprouting spikes on his helmet, he goes toe to toe with Flatley in a battle that makes spelling bees look lethal.  As to lasses competing for Flatley’s love?  Veteran Bernadette Flynn is back, her blond purity and constant hand-on-hip posturings a counterpart to dark-haired Ciara Sexton’s neo-dominatrix slithering.  And let’s not forget the dueling floozy fiddlers (Giada Costenaro and Valerie Gleeson), who bounce about between the onslaught of overly similar scenes that are many moons away from the Blarney Stone.

No match for the live concert experience, this decidedly low-tech 90-minute film, produced, created and choreographed by Flatley, was occasionally better viewed sans 3-D glasses -- its opening titles, several shooting stars and a few final bits of confetti comin’ at us aside. It looks as if the famously well-oiled Flatley machine has at last come grinding to a halt.

-- Victoria Looseleaf  

‘Lord of the Dance 3D’ MPAA rating: Not rated. Running time: 90 minutes. Opens: Thursday at select theaters nationwide.