Review in a Hurry: From small screen to the big stage, the world's most famous cover band (aka, the cast of Glee) rocked through season-one staples ("Don't Stop Believing") and empowering original songs ("Loser Like Me"). Despite all the drama surrounding the show, it was easy to get lost in the catchy songs and high-energy performances. With touching real-life underdog stories woven through the concert, Glee: 3D hits all the right notes, even if the 3-D was completely unnecessary.
The Bigger Picture: In just two seasons on television, Glee went from a magical show that championed underdogs to a controversial magnet that was surrounded by cast drama, rumors of divas on set and creator Ryan Murphy in the press every day. Basically, those who were once enchanted by Glee slowly turned into eye-rollers and cynical shoulder-shruggers. There was just too much mess revolving around the show.
But when you watch Glee: 3D, you forget about all that. It helps a lot that the castmembers are in their Glee characters during the movie. Lea Michele is talented and slighty crazy Rachel. Kevin McHale is smooth-wheeling Artie. Heather Morris is dumb but lovable Brittany. Most of the time we're just watching them perform, but occasionally in the film we talk to them backstage, and we're supposed to believe New Directions from Lima, Ohio, is now performing for thousands of screaming fans. The thing is...we do believe it.
Michele slays her vocals in "Don't Rain on My Parade" and pretty much every song she sings. Darren Criss has enough swagger during "Teenage Dream" to light up the entire arena (and the screams heard when he appears onstage prove it). McHale gets out of the wheelchair for a performance of "Safety Dance," and you're reminded that he's one of the best dancers on the show...We just rarely get to see it. Fact is, these guys are real superstars, maneuvering the stage like seasoned pros, but with enough enthusiasm to engage the crowd from beginning to end. And true, you can tell some of the numbers are lip-synced, but when Morris is killing her routine to "Slave 4 U," you don't even care! You're still dancing in your seat.
Another standout was Harry Shum Jr., who pulls double duty with Morris throughout the entire show. He's Glee's star dancer, and he's front and center for most of the numbers; plus, he has to "sing" along with everyone else. Amber Riley will not get quotation marks around her singing. No, sir! Mercedes once again proves that she can stand toe-to-toe with Rachel vocally during her rendition of "Ain't No Way."
Other highlights: Naya Rivera and Riley dueting to "River Deep, Mountain High," Shum and Morris' dance routine during "Valerie," Gwyneth Paltrow appearing onstage for "Forget You" and, of course, the goosebumps that you can't hold back during the opening notes of "Don't Stop Believing."
But woven throughout all the performances are in-depth looks at several Glee fans, and it's those moments that really squash the cynical thoughts. One is a gay teenager who was outed in a terrible way. Another is an outcast suffering from Asperger's Syndrome. And we also get to know a little person who's the star on her cheerleading squad. They've all been helped by Glee, and it's hard to roll your eyes when they reveal their secret fights with everyday society. Those moments are truly touching; magnified by the powerful performances of "Loser Like Me" and "SING."
Unfortunately, we do not get to see any of the skits performed onstage between songs that were crowd pleasers on tour. We see glimpses of it here and there, but Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) doesn't make an appearance, and the humor of New Directions' constant fighting is missing from the movie. Plus, the 3-D is nowhere near necessary, except in the end credits when slushies start flying through the air. That makes your cynical side return, but the encore of "Somebody to Love" pushes it right back down. You'll leave the theater smiling, and that's what Glee is supposed to do to us every week.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Glee: 3D is full of songs you've heard on TV before, but with masses of shrieking people added. Plus, a lot of the lip-synching insults the hard-core music fans. If you never enjoyed Glee, you most likely won't enjoy this.