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Staying Alive

review by Zach B.

 

 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 107 minutes

Starring: John Travolta, Cynthia Rhodes, Finola Highes, Steve Inwood

Written by: Sylvester Stallone and Norman Wexler

Directed by: Sylvester Stallone

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $24.99

Features: None

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (17 Scenes)

Released: October 8th, 2002

 

 

"Know why I ordered so many drinks?"

"Because you're an alcoholic."

"No, 'cause I love to watch you walk."

"Oh, I like that!"

 

Sometimes you really, really have to think hard and wonder about the mysteries of Hollywood. I know I've ranted on and on about this site before how they really only care about their money and their artistic merits, but haven't you ever wondered if they ever cared the slightest bit? How do some perfectly good scripts get rejected from studios and such complete trash gets made? Yes, it's the pursuit of the modern buck, but do you ever wonder if studios ever care about their reputation in what they do?

Apparently not, and "Staying Alive" has always been solid proof of that theory. I guess you can't blame Paramount for wanting to capitalize on the success of "Saturday Night Fever" from a commercial standpoint, its critical success and John Travolta's explosion into superstardom. Is it me, but didn't "Saturday Night Fever" feel like just a one time kind of movie? Yeah, I guess you could make a sequel out of it and all, but sometimes movies should be kept as one and sequels aren't necessary. It kind of ruins the point (damn you Hollywood greed!) and credibility even. I just get so annoyed when great movies get lousy, pointless sequels. It sometimes can be quite a challenge to just forget about them.

So this time around and several years later after "Saturday Night Fever," the emotional heat is supposed to be turned up but it's truly gone in such a lame plot: John Travolta, reprising his role as Tony Manero, still loves to dance and wants to be a dancer on Broadway. Of course, there are some love problems, competition and his endless passion to deal with. Oh, and lots of music too!

What is there to love about "Staying Alive"? I really couldn't tell you. But maybe the real question is this: what was Sylvester Stallone's main appeal to create a sequel to "Saturday Night Fever"? It still boggles me that after the success of the "Rocky" films, he lent his hand to do this. I still don't understand his reasoning, and probably due to "Rocky," he easily scored this gig. And yes, I still find it hard to believe he made this film. With school girl-like giddiness, I am still amused after all these years.

But I guess you can't blame Stallone for at least trying to connect the movie with the original... even if it feels so far off. There is the inclusion of Bee Gees songs and Norman Wexler, the screenwriter of the original,who came back to co-write it with Stallone. And yeah, I guess there is some to credit to be had when you got Travolta instead of some second-rate replacement or having Tony Manero's long lost cousin or some "related" characters along those lines. But the Bee Gees song don't have the same impact like the first time around, the screenplay is just a large piece of cheese waiting to be cut and served to the ignorant masses and despite the back of the DVD box claiming this is one of Travolta's "most powerful and unforgetable performances," it's rather choppy and unintentionally funny. While I still haven't subjected myself to "Battlefield Earth," I'm sure this performance goes down with that Oscar® winning role everyone tends to rave about.

But the supporting players aren't special at all as it seems like they're still honing their characters as if they're rehearsing for the film, not to mention the song isn't all Bee Gees. Frank Stallone, Sly's brother, gets his shot at songwriting... and you get to experience a lot of that throughout the film. My suggestion, even if one of those puppies got a Golden Globe nod (like that means anything anyway), is get some earmuffs to guard your ears. I still have damage from all the cacophony looniness. I forgot to mention Stallone's directing... certainly not his best, not by a longshot. Too much of the movie feels like filler, as if it was being written as filming started. The dancing sequences could be edited and montaged better instead of coming off as superfluous.

"Staying Alive" is truly a forgettable piece of work, but people remember it so much because it's so damn bad and they love to ridicule it (such as myself!). Or maybe it's so memorable because it's not just a mediocre sequel, but a horrendous one that pales in comparison to a classic that is held in such high regard. I've still yet to meet a person who actually enjoys the movie to some tiny extent. If you are one of those people, feel free to e-mail me and give me your opinion and rant on how much I suck for bashing the film. Also do provide some personal information. Because when that's said and done, I'm having the nice men in the white suits strap you down and I'll be sure to get you removed from modern society!

 

Getting the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, apparently Paramount doesn't care about the film so much either. It's incredibly grainy, and the dance sequences seem to be pretty faded out as if we're watching them through smoke machines. The print is also really dirty with blemishes, scratches, nicks and all those little flaws as if the transfer was done from a print that dusted off from the archives with one breath and that was it. Noise appears now and then too, color saturation and fleshtones are pretty much average as well. I've seen worse... but I doubt many people are going to be experiencing the film on DVD anyway.

 

"Staying Alive" does benefit from a new English 5.1 Dolby Digital remix, which is actually impressive to an extent, if a bit too flash and overdone. Like most remixes of older films, it doesn't exactly sound so true, but it fits nicely with the material. Be it the songs of the Bee Gees or those Frank Stallone hits, the dancing sequences and music-heavy cues are done quite well with fine imaging, strong dynamic range and rather high fidelity. There's decent subwoofer use too, but sometimes this mix becomes way too distracting with all the synthetic music blowing from speaker to speaker. This in particular could have been more well rounded.

Dialogue and surround effects other than music are nothing in comparison. It seems those elements weren't cleaned up at all, as I found some dialogue to be slightly distorted at times and smoothed out to nothing, even in the quieter scenes. Still, the mix delivers what you'd expect, but it's vastly uneven and even a bit annoying at times. It could have used some shaping up. Also included are English closed captions, English subtitles, a French stereo track and an English Dolby surround track.

 

No personal introduction from Sly? I am royally pissed!

 

One of the greatest films of all time is snubbed in ultimate fashion on DVD. While there is a decent 5.1 remix, the transfer isn't great and there are no supplements. Oh, wait. This isn't the DVD of "Saturday Night Fever." This is the DVD for "Staying Alive." GOOD. It gets what most people think of the film: nothing.