This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.
Let's be clear, The Red Shoes: Next Step is no sequel to the breathtaking The Red Shoes (1948). The original is a mesmerising, incredibly creative and visually stunning piece of work. The 17 minute ballet sequence is indescribable in its beauty, showcasing an impressionists view of colour, light and sound. Nominated for five Academy Awards, the film has been on many top ten lists for decades.
The Red Shoes: Next Step is the 180 to this. Where to begin? First of all, it is a ballet movie. Several of the cast are professional dancers. This is great and makes total sense. It's always awkward seeing the cut between actors and their body doubles. Here there is the opportunity to see some great dancing. What doesn't make sense is why the cinematographer decided to film everything in the darkest light possible so that one cannot even clearly see the dance sequences. It is both insulting to the viewer, but also to the performers.
Putting aside the dance sequences, let's talk about the plot, which is minimal and only exists to push forward the aforementioned poorly lit dance sequences. Our main character Sam (Juliet Doherty) is reeling from the unexpected death of her sister, Annie who is hit by a car while talking to Sam on the phone. Sam becomes a bad girl. Along with her new friend Eve (a teenage runaway, played by Lauren Esposito), they get up to trouble.
A brush with the law (a blink and you'll miss it shoplifting experience) results in Sam being made to clean the same ballet school where she was previously a student. And wouldn't you know it, it's only a matter of time before Sam is back dancing. Her main rival is quickly injured. Sam is the only one who knows the choreography for the ballet. It's a basic plot, with a stereotypical prickly older madame (Carolyn Bock) in charge.
The movie seems to only drag as it gets longer. Some positives; it is definitely a tween-friendly movie. The hijinks are minor and there isn't anything majorly offensive in it. There's a chummy “let's dance!” vibe to the film. But the positives mostly stop there. Because none of these positives outweigh other questions one might have while watching. Why are some actors speaking with American accents, whilst others have Australian accents? The Red Shoes 2 offers no explanation for this.
All in all, The Red Shoes 2: Next Step is a disappointment not just to its viewers, but to everyone who worked on the film. It has a lot of potential. But it ultimately doesn't live up to its predecessor.
The Red Shoes 2: Next Step will be released on 25 August