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Saturday Night Fever became a success of the seventies, capturing the ideas and values of its audience so perfectly.  In addition to the strong, gritty story and complex characters it had Trovolta’s fame to ride on.  It was the sort of film that shouldn’t have been given a sequel – anything that would have followed, definitely would not have bettered.  Yet someone somewhere took it upon himself to create such a thing…. sigh!

Staying Alive
Movie
Staying Alive was essentially the pet project of Sylvester Stallone.  Following on from his success with both the Rambo and Rocky franchises, apparently deciding he needed to move on to something more challenging.  The result was a sequel that very few people want to remember.

In Saturday Night Fever Tony Manero was a crude, angry, punk kid who was stuck on the Brooklyn side of New York; he had aspirations of being a success and eventually moving to the other side of the river – Manhattan, but his attitude stood in the way.  It wasn’t until he met Stephanie that things began to turn around.

Picking up a few years after Saturday Night Fever, we find a changed Tony.  He’s more refined with a nicer attitude, teaching dance during the day whilst waiting at a nightclub in the evenings.  He has a girlfriend who’s also a dancer; she’s actually in a show on Broadway.  Tony doesn’t really treat her well and as such is more like a friend most of the time.  He’s still looking for his chance at success but since moving into Manhattan he has realised that he may not be as good as he thought.

Staying Alive
To signify the last performance of his girlfriend’s job, he turns up to watch from backstage. It is here that he falls in love.  Unfortunately for his girlfriend, it is with the lead performer of the show.  From here on in, it becomes a standard soap-like love triangle, with Tony’s goal being to appear as the lead in an upcoming new dance performance.

After seeing this movie’s predecessor I had high expectations for the sequel, it wasn’t until I had a look at its Internet Movie Database rating that I realised it wasn’t going to be that good.  From what I have heard of this movie, it started of in a similar vein to the Saturday Night Fever movie, with a just as brilliant script from Normal Wexler.  But somehow Sylvester Stallone became a script writer and it apparently deteriorated from there.  It is so obvious from watching this movie that the protagonist has be modelled around the Rambo character, with a Rocky style dialogue.

One of the main elements of it predecessor was the strong soundtrack from The Bee Gees; this film is unfortunately far weaker in this respect.  Stallone’s brother was the main contributor to the soundtrack, and although he has talent, his songs just didn’t quite fit in.  There were many moments where his tacks would just hit you in the face for the utter lack of subtlety, and hence ruin the atmosphere of the scene.  The weakness of the soundtrack is only made more evident by the reuse of The Bee Gee’s Staying Alive at the very end to accompany Tony’s strut.  It was the only track that I could remember from the entire film and immediately brought back memories of the rest of the music from Saturday Night Fever.  Most of the remaining tracks were from The Bee Gees, but these had nowhere near the impact as those featured in Saturday Night Fever.

Staying Alive
Another problem area was the characters.  One of the delights of Saturday Night Fever was the way in which you could tell that the characters weren’t quite who they said they were, and it wasn’t until later on that things start to become apparent.  Staying Alive only seems to have one such character - Laurie - who you’ll have figured out after about fifteen minutes.  It is only later in the movie when Tony’s mother orders Tony to act the way he used to that it starts to become interesting – it’s just a pity it took so long for this to happen.

There are lots of issues with this film that I could go on forever about, but I hope you get the idea by now…

Video
Staying Alive was boxed and presented in a similar fashion to that of the Saturday Night Fever DVD, yet is no match for it in respect to video.  The transfer is Anamorphic but evidently has not been offered the same level of restoration treatment that Saturday Night Fever was given.  As a result it features a lot of grain with scratches and other artefacts evident.  To give owners of the Saturday Night Fever disc an idea of the quality, I would say that it is only slightly better that the deleted scenes presented on the Saturday Night Fever DVD.

Staying Alive
Audio
A nice 5.1 remix is provided.  Although not as impressive as that afforded for Saturday Night Fever, it is definitely more than suitable.  As you would expect the musical scenes take the most advantage of the new remix, with some using it a bit too much – almost becoming distracting.

Apart from the above, the rear channels are barely used, offering very little over previous 2.0 releases.  Dialogue is clear and easy to understand.

Extras
There’s absolutely nothing of value.  It’s always a bad sign when you place the disc into the drive of your player and a few seconds after clicking on English the movie starts.  In order to get to the extras you have to click on the menu button whilst the movie plays.

There’s scene selection, audio track selection, menu language selection and, um, animated menus.  Oh wait, I lie, even the menus aren’t animated!

Staying Alive
Overall
Stallone seems to have messed up on this one.  He updated the story for the eighties but forgot that the key to the success of Saturday Night Fever was its extremely strong soundtrack, excellent cast with believable characters, and an enveloping storyline.  Staying Alive only has John Travolta to stand by it.  As a gage for the success of this movie, bear in mind that Travolta’s career was essentially in a mess for a while afterward.

If you are a hard core fan of Paramount’s seventies and eighties dance/musical movies then this movie is for you.  If you are a Travolta fan and must have all his movies in your collection then you’ll probably like this.  If you are both then I suggest you definitely get this movie!  Otherwise I really have to say, stay away.  There are lots of other similar films to choose from, if you do like these sorts of movies then I recommend you start with Saturday Night Fever then try some of those listed in the Related Movies links on the right.


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