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Fancy feet; Phenomenal dancing is undercut by cheese in 'Lord of the Dance'

The new 3-D film version of the stage hit "Lord of the Dance" is a mixed blessing.

The dancing -- by a huge company and especially by the show's creator and leading man, Michael Flatley -- is phenomenal. But the 3-D is disappointing.

And when you're not slack-jawed in amazement at the fancy footwork, you'll probably be giggling (or groaning) at Flatley's overcooked sense of the dramatic.

Shot before live audiences on a recent European tour, "Lord" is a sort of fantasy morality play stuffed with Celtic dance, music and imagery.

Most of the music has been prerecorded, but several rollicking numbers feature a pair of leggy female fiddlers, and for one tune an amplified rock band materializes.

Flatley is a tap-dancing master whose feet move so fast they become a blur. But he tends to end each number with a cheesy bodybuilder pose that strikes this viewer as less masculine than simply preening. He used to perform shirtless; at age 52 now he keeps covered, which softens the impression that the show is an exercise in narcissism.

My big gripe, though, is that the film appears to be criminally underlit. Doesn't matter how great the dancing is if you can't see it.

***

LORD OF THE DANCE    

2 1/2 stars (out of 4)    

DIRECTOR: Marcus Viner    

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes    

RATING: Unrated    

THE LOWDOWN: Documentary of Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance."

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