Originally released in 1997, The Next Step is one of those coming of age dance films that became so popular in the late 90’s. Usually, that alone would be enough to put me off the film, but as I am a reviewer, I was forced to dig deeper. Unfortunately for me, there really isn’t anywhere deeper to go. The genre pretty much dictates the plot.
For those who dare to actually be concerned with said plot, I really can’t say it any better than it is already stated on the back of the box. Specifically, this …ilm “tells of how a womanizing, arrogant dancer gets his just desserts and learns the hard way to treat his partners with more respect.” Seriously, how many hundreds of films have been made with this premise? Better films. Films helmed by talented directors. Honestly, I think I would rather sit through an entire season of Fame than to have to watch this horrible thing again. At least Fame has some of those “so bad it’s good” moments. This thing is just uncomfortably embarrassing.
I knew I was in trouble when I wasn’t even given an audio option on the menu. Viewers get only one option on this disc… English stereo. The good news is, it is in English. The bad news is pretty much everything else. All of the audio is compressed into the middle of the sonic range, with no lows or highs coming through. Dialog is also mixed low, which in a way is nice, because you probably won’t wake up after you doze off from trying to stay interested in the plot.
Believe it or not, the producers of this DVD actually had the audacity to release it only in a full screen, letterboxed format. To me, this speaks volumes about not only the horrendous quality of the film, but just how out-of-touch the producers of this disc really are. Back in the ‘ol VHS days, letterboxed films were the way to go. Since then, however, consumers have matured and technology has advanced. A letterboxed DVD is the equivalent of a record label running an LP straight to a CD for sale.
I have no intention of spending much more time discussing this transfer. The letterbox fiasco alone is more than enough reason to give this disc a failing grade. For those of you who are not swayed by such technical blunders, however, you can take solace in the fact that the rest of the transfer looks like it is dubbed straight from VHS as well. Horrible lighting, bad color and a very low bitrate makes this a disc that you will try your hardest to forget.
I just feel bad for the folks that have to conduct the commentary. Either they had to put a ton of effort into feigning interest in their own film, or they actually believe they have made something worthwhile. The track reminds me of those unfortunate instances when you get stuck on an airplane next to a loudmouthed know-it-all that wants to explain the most minute “insider” details of absolutely every subject that comes up. I can’t even remember the number of times I was faced with a, “well, if you’re in the theater, that means…” moment. Well, I was in the home theater, and when you’re in there, crappy films like this one shouldn’t be allowed in. That’s just how we do it here.
There is also a section called interviews / behind the scenes that includes some of the filmmakers an actors chatting amongst themselves in a messy hotel room. No kidding. They literally set up a camcorder and interviewed each other in a hotel room, without so much as bothering to make the bed first. Brilliant.
The extras mercifully wrap up with the film’s trailer.
At this point, what more can I say. This disc is horrible from start to finish. The movie itself is bad, the audio is bad, the video is unspeakably wretched, the extras are an exercise in tedium… I really don’t know what else I can add. Please, please do yourself a favor, and leave this thing on the shelf. Even if it is free, do yourself a favor and pass.
Special Features List
- interviews / behind the scenes
- filmmaker’s commentary