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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Honey 2 (Blu-ray)
Honey 2 (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // February 21, 2012 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Adam Tyner | posted February 15, 2012 | E-mail the Author
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I never actually got around to watching the original Honey, but I did see the trailer and TV spots and stuff, so I kinda get the general idea of what happens. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and
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guess that Honey Daniels does indeed achieve her lifelong dream of writhing around in hip-hop videos. But...wait, if Honey's shaking her stuff in a Chingy jam, who's teaching hip-hop down at the centuh? There are just so many unanswered questions -- at least, I'm guessing there are -- and if that sort of thing has been torturing you for going on ten years now, then finally, this long overdue direct-to-video sequel ought to come as sweet, sweet relief.

I don't really get why Honey 2 is called Honey 2 since...well, the first flick is nine years in the rear-view mirror by now, Jessica Alba's nowhere near here, and what few connections this sequel has to the original are pretty insignificant. Whatever. Anyway, Maria Ramirez (Katerina Graham) is fresh out of juvie, and after being taken under the wing of Honey's mom (Lonette McKee), she once again finds sanctuary in the one place that truly felt like a home to her: the centuh. Oh, her old dance crew, the 718...? They bad news, yo. Their leader-slash-Maria's-ex Luis (Christopher "War" Martinez) is a common crook who's to blame for her getting locked up in the first place. Doesn't matter that they're the current champions of Dance BattleZone, which is...yeah, depressingly, actually the name of a super-popular TV show in this thing. That's okay. There's an up-and-coming crew in the centuh that has the raw talent to be something special...to be a contender on a basic cable dance show hosted by Mario Lopez that has that vacant, dead-eyed girl from The Hills as a judge. Maria's choreography and mad skillz help mold the HD Crew into a force to be reckoned with. Oh, but no matter how fly they may be, the road to Dance BattleZone stardom is treacherous indeed. Conflict! Romance! Stinging betrayal! An offscreen dying grandma! Does the HD Crew have what it takes to...I don't know, stomp the yard against the ballers and shot-callers of the 718? Can the HD Crew even hold it together long enough to face them in battle?

...and, okay, you already know the answers there, but that's not really the point. My absolute biggest guilty pleasures at the tail-end of the '90s were teen movies like She's All That and Drive Me Crazy, and even though they were all very slight variations on the exact same plot and could never be mistaken as objectively good or whatever, I loved 'em anyway. They were sweet and sincere and kind of ridiculous, and the formula and familiarity were all part of the fun. I guess I look at dance movies as being the same sort of thing. If you're analyzing Honey 2 the same way you'd approach Kieślowski or something, then, yes, obviously it's gonna pale by comparison. The dialogue is howlingly bad, for one. I mean, when I threw in all those clunky, outdated hip-hop clichés a paragraph or two up, at least I was kidding. When Honey 2 throws out something like "yo, we need you, and we still got mad love for you" or "Tina, when you ready to grow up, come holla at your boy" or "yo, I was wrong! We ain't no damn crew! We just some posers!" or "someone call the cops 'cause I think these guys just broke a few laws...of physics!", it totally means it. Honey 2's stabs at humor are wading ankle-deep in flopsweat. A good bit of the acting is stilted and awkward, particularly Christopher "War" Martinez who struggles in vain to deliver any of the way-too-much dialogue he has convincingly. Clearly some of these folks were shipped in because they could dance, not because they could act. But hey! Don't take my word for it:



At the end of the day, not even a little bit of that matters. Honestly, the terrible dialogue, clumsy acting, and paint-by-numbers storytelling are endearing. I don't mean in a snarky so-bad-it's-good way; Honey 2 means it, and that sincerity really draws me in. Yeah, sometimes I'd laugh when I wasn't supposed to, but I was never cringing or staring longingly at the clock on the wall. I had a good time with Honey 2, and that's gotta count for something. Katerina Graham sometimes gets a little too cartoonishly exaggerated as this tough-girl-from-the-streets but still manages to be extremely charming in the lead. I really like some of the supporting players, especially
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Seychelle Gabriel and Randy Wayne, and I guess I could go ahead and list pretty much everyone else in the HD Crew while I'm at it. A lot of the music's really great -- not my thing, exactly, but I can still recognize quality when I hear it -- and the production values are a lot higher than I was expecting out of a direct-to-video release.

When I first looked at the flipside of the case for Honey 2 and saw that the runtime was approaching two hours, I kind of recoiled in horror, but here's the thing: something like half of that is dancing. The sheer volume of dance numbers is borderline-surreal. I tried keeping a running tally for a while there but gave up after the eighteenth dance sequence, and there was still plenty going on after that. I'm a rhythmless white suburbanite, so I won't pretend to be an expert on urban dance crews or whatever, but there's a remarkably eclectic variety of styles on display here, and every last bit of it is astonishingly acrobatic and brilliantly coordinated. I'm not pretentious enough to write something like "it's the human form become liquid" to describe how superhumanly fluid the movements are here, but I sure did think about it. Director Bille Woodruff has helmed enough music videos to know how to most effectively capture bodies in motion like this, and that energy and athleticism really beam through here. Honey 2 is kind of fascinating to just lean back and watch.

If you're strictly looking at the writing or the acting, then, yeah, Honey 2 is exactly the movie you think it is. That sloppiness winds up being kinda fun and charming in its own way, though, and the variety and staggering number of dance sequences make the clunkier moments all seem worth it in the end. Yeah, we're talking about a movie that's rocking a 6% rating on Rotten Tomatoes right now, so I'm not going to pretend it's some kind of unappreciated cinematic marvel or whatever. Still, I dug Honey 2 for what it is, and if you think you might like it, you're probably right. Honey 2 isn't something I see myself going back and watching over and over again, so a rental is probably the way to go here if by some small miracle you're still slogging your way through this review. Rent It.


Video
The cinematography for Honey 2 has that unmistakeably digital look to it that I'm not so much a card-carrying fan of, but other than that...? This shiny,
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new Blu-ray disc looks really, really great. The image is consistently sharp and detailed throughout. Its colors are vivid and more than a little bit eyepopping. Contrast is reasonably robust, especially whenever there's plenty of light to play with. I couldn't spot any heavy-handed noise reduction, edge enhancement, hiccups in the compression, or much of anything else on the long list of stuff I'm supposed to complain about. An expectedly solid effort.

The high bitrate AVC encode for Honey 2 spans both layers of this BD-50 disc. There's no matting or anything this time around: just a straightahead aspect ratio of 1.78:1.


Audio
Wait, I'm reviewing a PG-13 flick, so I can get away with a little profanity, right? Because holy shit, the bass in this thing. Not to throw too many acronyms in one sentence or anything, but the LFE in this 24-bit, six-channel DTS-HD Master Audio track is unreal, unleashing hellishly low-frequency booms that rival just about anything I've ever experienced on Blu-ray. The downside is that bass is such a focal point throughout the dance sequences that I couldn't appreciate too much else of the sound design. I'm sure there's plenty going on there because even lower-key sequences make subtle yet wildly effective use of the multichannel setup...really clever discrete effects to help flesh out a sense of place. The sound design is primarily about the music, yeah, but the atmospherics throughout this track are pretty much first-rate and are not to be ignored. Very well done.

Also piled on here are lossy DTS 5.1 dubs in French and Spanish. Subtitles are served up in English (SDH), French, and Spanish.


Extras
It's not technically an extra, but the blooper reel plays over the end credits rather than being its own thing.
  • Deleted Scenes (14 min.; HD): There are ten deleted and extended scenes in all, including a longer intro to the opening juvie turf-dance battle, some trashtalking between Luis and Justin TimberfakeBrandon, Honey's-Mom
    [click on the thumbnail to enlarge]
    pleading with Maria to help her troubled young crew-mate, some additional chat with the judges after a key Dance BattleZone performance, and a couple of extended dance numbers.

  • Dance Sequences (11 min.; HD): Some of the hyperkinetic dance numbers were trimmed down into a montage, but here you get to see Fanny Pak, Quest Crew, Strikers All-Stars, Super Cr3w, and Beat Freaks do their thing in full. You can watch each crew perform individually or tear through 'em all at once.

  • Behind the Dance Crews: The Making of Honey 2 (13 min.; HD): Honey 2 is packing a better-than-average making-of featurette, kicking off by noting how much bigger urban dance has gotten to be in pop culture since the release of Honey back in 2003. A few other topics are tackled along the way, but the rest of "Behind the Dance Crews" is just about split down the middle between the cast, the choreography, and the music. Well, that's three things, so not "down the middle", technically, but you know what I mean. Of course, my favorite part was learning that the character played by Audrina Patridge is officially named "Hot Celebrity Judge".

  • The Dream Continues (4 min.; HD): Featurette numero two-oh compares and contrasts this sequel with the original Honey.

  • Dance or Die Tryin' (7 min.; HD): The last of the featurettes delves into the variety of styles represented in Honey 2's choreography as well as the cast's grueling three week bootcamp of rehearsals.

  • Audio Commentary: Finally, director Bille Woodruff chimes in with a commentary track. It starts off well enough, lobbing out a story about a high heel-meltdown, what went into helping Los Angeles pass for Brooklyn, and highlighting details (and occasional mistakes) that are lurking somewhere off in the background. After a while, though, Woodruff kind of just quietly watches the movie, and the gaps between comments get longer and longer as Honey 2 goes on. There are some notes I found interesting enough even after things slowed down, such as fretting about a music video with the same sample and very similar choreography or chatting about how some of the more unintentionally intense sequences had to be trimmed down. This track really would've been better off if Woodruff had someone else nearby to keep more of a conversation breezing along. This is an okay listen but not what I'd call essential.

Honey 2 comes packaged in a glossy, embossed slipcover. Lovingly tucked inside are a DVD and a digital copy code, including that fancy new UltraViolet streaming that all the kids are talking about.


The Final Word
Hmmm...how best to cram down that long, rambling review into a bite-size summary?

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Uh, on second thought, I think I'll just roll with a bold, italicized Rent It instead.
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