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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 46:16)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, Portuguese, Croatian, Slovenian
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - with Director Thomas Carter
  • Featurette - The Making of Save The Last Dance
  • Animated menus
  • Music video - Crazy by K-Ci and Jo Jo
  • Interviews - With the Cast and Crew

Save the Last Dance

Paramount/Paramount . R4 . COLOR . 108 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This is the uquivalnet of a Rocky Horror Picture Show or Grease for my generation. While these other films hold a lot of quality and good points, Save The Last Dance tries to reach for the stars (or the dance floor) for the teenagers of 2000 and hits them right on the head. It's perfectly cast and, however clichéd the story may be, it offers just that little bit extra compared to some of the other teenage dramas around.

Julia Stiles is superb as Sara, the white newcomer, and she appears so strong. Her presence on screen is so lively and natural, and we should keep our eyes out for more from her. Stiles also starred in the severely underrated behind-the-scenes film State and Main and teen comedy flick 10 Things I Hate About You. Sean Patrick Thomas stars as Derek, the only other smart person in her predominantly black high school in Chicago. He also appeared as the cello teacher in Cruel Intentions, and is superb as the street-smart, yet sensitive, friend of Sara's. Sara, who moves to Chicago after her mother's death, is now living with her father and going to a rough high school. In a new city, in a new school with new friends, Sara stands out boldly (well, actually with orange - keep reading) against the school of predominantly black teenagers. Her teacher assumes she doesn't understand the class content, but she is smarter than he thinks, and has her opinions on the topic. We now meet Derek, who also has opinions on the topic, showing his knowledge too. After some wrong social decisions in the cafeteria, Chenille (Kelly Washington - we need to see more of her too!) takes Sara under her wing and gives her an education in her new life in Chicago. After a comment from Sara, we discover that Derek is actually Chenille's brother, and, as you can imagine, the fireworks start to go off. With bitchy and jealous friends of Chenille and Sara's longing to go to Julliard, Derek takes her under his wing and teaches her the moves and gives her the courage and love that she needs so much.

Some may see this film as a dance film like Centre Stage, but others will see it as an interracial relationship film. This theme is appropriate and current for my generation, and tries to offer more than the usual boy meets girl, girl falls for boy, and you know the rest. The same thing is with gay couples on screen, and the different ways that teen films intertwine these adult and mature themes into a teenage film. Themes such as these broaden peoples' minds and help create a new acceptance. It is the same with gay themes in films; they educate people and try to show them that there are other ways to live. For all these examples, some people are more open-minded than others, and by releasing these ideas in films they are witnessed by large audiences which may increase the overall acceptance. But it is still all left up to your thoughts on the situation and your morals or ethics.

Save The Last Dance is better than the average teen drama, as it delves into mature and adult themes and handles them very well. Some excellent performances are seen on screen from Stiles to Washington to Thomas, and this is one film that has to be seen.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in the widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

Praise the Lord! An anamorphic transfer with little aliasing! Yahoo! The transfer is simply a delight to watch, with very little wrong with it. The minor aliasing can be seen on such usual culprits as fences, long shots of buildings and blinds, but these are due to the television rather than the disc. On a DVD-ROM drive and watched on a computer, the aliasing does not exist.

The colours are superbly mastered with directorial cues and hints standing out superbly such as Sara's bright orange jacket on her first day at school or a blue tinge during the opening sequence demonstrating a past memory. Blacks are very solid, with superb shadow detail. Many of the scenes are in darkly lit interiors, such as clubs or Sara's father's apartment, and they all look superb on screen. The interior club scenes look reasonably good, but suffer from a slight lack in clarity compared to the rest of the picture due to the smoke inside the clubs.

On a whole, the picture is incredibly sharp, but again in the clubs things can become ever so slightly muted. While we are in the clubs, slight grain is apparent, yet it's not at all distracting. It's just an observation, rather than a distraction. While there is little grain, film artefacts are a different story. For such a recent film it is sad to see such large artefacts apparent, ranging from hair to speckles, and large artefacts at that. Nevertheless, they are relatively quick, but they are there, and can be distracting at times.

The disc is a single-sided dual-layered disc, with the change occurring at 46:16. While not the neatest layer change (Innocence still takes the cake) it is very close, as it occurs on a static scene change and doesn't cause the player to hang.

  Audio
Contract

There are three film soundtracks and one audio commentary track. The film soundtracks include English, French and Spanish language tracks all in Dolby Digital 5.1, and the commentary is in English with Dolby Digital 2.0. Obviously, for some of us the English soundtrack is the primary listening option.

The dialogue levels are very good and it is clearly audible throughout the feature - well, as audible as the African-American language can be. Some terms are just double dutch to the uneducated American-language club such as yours truly, but enough is understandable to make coherent sentences. There are no problems with audio sync nor distortion.

Dialogue comes solely from the centre speaker with effects coming from the front left and right, and rear left and right speakers discretely. While no huge effects come from the rear channels, they do create a sensational soundstage and superb environment. The subwoofer rears its head only really to support the hip-hop music soundtrack. The score is from Mark Isham and it suits the mood of the film superbly, such as the moving opening sequence.

  Extras
Contract

There's a bag load of extras on this disc, starting off with the... wait for it... main menu! This is nicely animated with audio that automatically starts after the music has been played. Sure this is good for kids such as the Hi-5 discs, but it really gets to me - what if you leave the room, come back and see a part of the movie already? Now this may not irritate everybody but it can be frustrating if you haven't seen the film before.

Four Deleted Scenes are included, which are closer to extended scenes rather than deletions. They were removed from the final print to shorten the film. The four scenes are the Record Store (2:16), Jazz Club (2:30), Chenille's Apartment (3:07) and Playground (2:24).

A 19-minute Featurette is included to give an insight into the making of Save The Last Dance. It's a made-for-TV promotional piece, but it does offer some interesting material on the background and behind-the-scenes for the film.

The Cast and Crew Interviews run for 12 minutes and are the full interviews of the snippets from the aforementioned featurette. While some of the content is repeated, some of the interviews still remain interesting and informative.

There is a promotional Music Video of Crazy by K-Ci and Jo Jo. It contains some footage from the film, as your usual soundtrack promotions often do.

A two-minute Theatrical Trailer has been thrown into the bag to advertise the film - one point though, why do you need to advertise the film when you already have the disc? But anyway, there is only the one trailer available on the Internet (which is this one) and it does a good job at explaining the story.

A Director's Commentary from Director Thomas Carter also helps fill the bag, offering a superb insight into the background of the film. This stands out as one of the better solo-commentaries around.

There is nothing more annoying that having a large quantity of low quality extra features, so Paramount did the right thing by having a smaller quantity of high quality features, and this really makes the disc stand out of the crowd.

  Overall  
Contract

Save The Last Dance is definitely one of the better teenage dramas on the market and offers something for everybody... yes, even those who aren't fans of hip-hop music. To be honest, after a few minutes you don't notice the music any more. The video transfer is very neat, with only very minor problems, and the audio track is sufficient for the film. The quality of the extra features is outstanding and tops off this disc. This is definitely worth a hire - then it’s up to you to make a decision on purchasing the disc...


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      And I quote...
    "Don't dance past this one, and no, don't walk past it either, grab a copy - whether it be to rent or buy - for a good night of entertainment from one of the better teenage dramas..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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