Directed by Liz Friedlander
Starring Antonio Banderas, Alfre Woodard, John Ortiz, Rob Brown
Blackboard Jungle has an awful lot to answer for. It's been more than 60 years since Richard Brooks' Oscar-nominated drama set the template for the 'teacher tries to reach the kids' story, and since then we've been saddled with a multitude of miserably derivative delicacies. For every School of Rock, which playfully and self-deprecatingly moved the format on a little, there's at least a dozen films as creaky and as condescending as Dangerous Minds.
Step Up from the same year proved that some degree of innovation is possible within such tight paramaters, and the raw charisma of Antonio Banderas leads us to raise our expectations. But while it's not an especially awful film, it is also desperately unremarkable.
Ricardo Montalban, his very presence is often enough to lift a production - and anyone who can hijack the Shrek series from under the main cast's nose deserves the benefit of any doubt.
Highlander, numerous great filmmakers have cut their teeth in music videos, such as Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The difference is that these directors used the medium to experiment visually while taking on all the technical nous that they could muster. Friedlander is more at the Russell Mulcahy end of filmmaking, with her sole feature to date being well-shot and possessing good dancing, but lacking a distinctive stamp.
Step Up 3, virtually non-existent - it may sound like a compelling argument. And as much as I railed against this in my reviews, it does seem to be the fate of any dance film that what plot it possesses is either pushed into the background and forgotten. or reduced to the most over-simplified tosh possible.
NEXT REVIEW: The Football Factory (2004)