These days, video shelves are being filled with an increasing amount of direct-to-video sequels. While film fans may scoff at these efforts, they'll keep multiplying, thanks to the surprising success of direct-to-video sequels like the ones from the "Bring It On" series. "Save the Last Dance 2" continues the story of Sara Johnson (played by Julia Stiles in the first picture, replaced by "Coyote Ugly" star Izabella Miko this time around), who moves from Chicago to New York in order to persue her dream of attending Julliard.
The film spends part of the time focusing on Sara's classical ballet class (her teacher is played by Jacqueline Bisset!), which is so tough that the class is split into three groups (ranking the talent displayed) each week. Those who are in the lowest group for more than a few weeks are asked to leave (rather like a reality show.) There's also a hip-hop dance class, taught by a substitute named Miles (Columbus Short), who catches the eye of Sara (her boyfriend from the first film, played by Sean Patrick Thomas, has gone off to medical school and the two have broken up, the movie explains early on.) The two classes, of course, represent Sara's two loves. Can she find a way to embrace both elements?
So, the film bounces back-and-forth between Miles and Sara's growing relationship in the outside world and her struggle to succeed in school. There's also a few one-dimensional friends and a rivalry thrown in for good measure. In terms of the recasting, Miko is both a positive and a negative in the lead. While she clearly doesn't look or sound or act anything like Julia Stiles did in the first film (maybe creating a different character for the sequel would have been a better idea), she is a trained ballerina and appears to handle the moves better than Stiles did.
Unfortunately, Miko's acting can't carry the film adequately. While she has a warm, friendly on-screen presence, this is still a fairly bland performance overall, and one that doesn't sell the emotional moments enough. As a result, I found my interest in the plot limited at best. Short provides a decent effort and the two have adequate chemistry. Bissett is also an asset to the film as Sara's ballet teacher. However, they're not particularly helped by former reality show writer Kwame Nyanning ("Being Bobby Brown")'s script, which offers some clunky dialogue and a formulaic plot. Fans of the original will probably still want to give this a shot to see how the story continues, but I thought it was a forgettable follow-up.
VIDEO: "Save the Last Dance 2" is presented by Paramount in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation largely looked quite good, whether in some of the darker interiors or some of the brighter outdoor shots (filmed in Toronto.) Sharpness and detail remained consistent throughout, as while the picture never looked crystal clear, it at least maintained a pleasing level of definition. Flaws were limited to a few instances of slight artifacting and light edge enhancement. Colors looked bright, warm and well-saturated, with no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: "Save the Last Dance 2" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. Aside from the hip-hop music on the soundtrack (which put the surrounds to aggressive use), the sound design remained pretty straightforward and dialogue-driven. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue and bassy music.
EXTRAS: A fluffy, brief promotional featurette and trailers for both the first and second films.
Final Thoughts: Fans of the original will probably still want to give this a shot to see how the story continues, but I thought it was a forgettable follow-up to the enjoyable original. The DVD offers very good audio/video quality, but minimal supplements.