Although I'm not perfectly-versed in all forms of "The Arts," I'm definitely more well-rounded than most. With a wife heavily involved in theatre, I don't have much of an option. Some people marry into wealth, other into crazy families. Me? I married into The Arts. And please don't mistake this for bickering. I've actually come to enjoy it – well, most of it. But what I don't enjoy is watching art passed off as something it's not. Dance, in particular, has been passed off in the majority of recent movies as something it most definitely is not – a method of fighting. Nothing makes me laugh more, yet it has been so heavily integrated into Hollywood that it seems normal. Let me give you some perspective. Imagine going to work one day and seeing two coworkers in a deeply heated argument, so heated in fact that they break out into dance in order to name a victor. Ridiculous, right? Now imagine artists having paint-offs? "I'm so mad at you that I'm going to out-paint your ass!" What about sculpt-offs? Or poem-offs? Sing-offs? Dancing as fighting needs to come to an end. There's a smart way to put dance into movies without replacing violence with the passive art – but 'Honey 2' doesn't use it.
The titular character Honey (played by Jessica Alba in 'Honey') does not appear in 'Honey 2.' If a movie's title contains a character not featured in the film, it should either carry a new name or go the route of 'Bourne' by adding "Legacy" to it. 'The Honey Legacy' would be a much more suitable title than 'Honey 2' - especially considering it features only one solitary third-tier returning cast member.
The central character of 'Honey 2' is Maria, played by Katerina Graham of 'The Vampire Diaries.' This 2010 movie that's just now coming direct to home video starts off with Maria butting heads with a fellow inmate in a juvenile detention center. Apparently, the West Coast / East Coast rivalry has made its way into dance, because they break out into a three-on-three synchronized dance battle. I wish they would have included a scene before this that showed Maria and her two buddies practicing their routine in the recreation area, that way everyone could see this idea in the same ridiculous light that I do.
Right after Maria and her "crew" destroy the West Coasters, a conveniently-timed guard tells Maria that she's made bail. Who would bail out this professionally-trained ghetto bunny? Honey's mom, of course! While Honey is out on tour with some fictional pop band, Maria is going to stay in her stead and earn her keep by sweeping up at Honey's warehouse dance studio. Of course, while cleaning at the studio she makes both enemies and friends. With bigger fish to fry - like her old friends who got her put in juvy in the first place, of course - the new enemies become friends who join her cause. They create a new crew known as "Team HD" (for Honey Daniels, who none of the crew actually know) in order to dethrone her old evil crew, the "718," on the fictional television team dancing competition 'Dance Battle-Zone.' The weekly series features Mario "A.C. Slater" Lopez as a Ryan Seacrest type and Audrina "Deer in the Headlights" Patridge as a celebrity judge.
From there, 'Honey 2' is full of the expected cliches: a shallow romance, hurt feelings, forgiveness, not only angry dancing but angry shelf-stocking, a slew of nauseating montages and enough Zack Snyder-esque slow-down/speed-up sequences to make 'Watchmen' feel like it moves at a brisk pace. Then again, the 111-minute runtime of 'Honey 2' doesn't help its pacing either. No direct-to-Blu-ray movie should ever be more than 90 minutes long. With all of the needless and unnecessary drama that 'Honey 2' carries, it makes the 'Step Up' movies look like gold. It feels more like a single-episode 'Saved By the Bell' story arc stretched into one a feature length movie.
Not all dance movies have to feature terrible actors. You don't have to sacrifice acting for strong dancing or vice versa. See 'Black Swan.' Heaven forbid that dance flicks use movie magic to make the unbelievable possible too. And not all modern dance movies need to take the angle of 'West Side Story' by turning dance into a fighting method. Although it's not the most modern of the contemporary dance flicks, 'White Nights' is an example of a fine dance movie set in the real world. Truthfully, if we lived in the violence-free world of 'Honey 2,' where you had to dance for your survival against this group of needy and dramatic artists in mysteriously smooth alleys with neon lighting, I'd rather get stabbed in the gut.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal has given 'Honey 2' a combo pack release that includes a BD-50, a DVD and a code for an Ultraviolet copy of the movie. (Although it's not advertised, the Ultraviolet code can also be redeemed for a standard Digital Copy). The two-disc blue Elite keepcase slides into a shiny and embossed cardboard slipcase with the same cover art. The main menu features the standard Universal layout, but you've got to skip over a lot of pre-menu content to get to it – two Universal vanity reels and trailers for 'Tower Heist,' 'Bring It On: The Musical' Stage Tour, 'Hop' and 'Johnny English Reborn.'
The quality of the 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer is so good that it's depressing to see it wasted on such a bad movie. Aside from one compression flaw and a dozen soft shots, 'Honey 2' is consistent and strong.
As dumb as the images on-screen may be, it's always sharp with crystal clear resolution. From stagnant cityscapes to fast dance moves, you'll always see defined details. The dance sequences were filmed with a faster shutter speed to ensure the clarity of krumping and other gyration-filled dance styles. Whether she's wearing wife-beaters or her trademark sports bras, the textures of Maria's (and others') clothes are always visible. This high level of detail only wains a few times throughout the movie.
The bright color palette is like that of a late '80s, early '90s music video - wild and all over the place. Colors burst onscreen with vibrancy. During clubbing scenes, the house lights spread an overly saturated sheet of color over those on the dance floor. This is presumably the director's intention, to have the lights chew up all detail. The black levels are just as strong as the colors. The contrast of the deep blacks against the popping colors brings out the palette.
Aliasing occurs less than a dozen times, but that's the only of the compression flaws to make its way onto the Blu-ray. Artifacts, bands and noise are missing in this DNR- and edge enhancement-free transfer.
The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track of 'Honey 2' doesn't share the same high integrity of the video quality. The balance is out of whack, falling flat far more often than succeeding.
A good 80 percent of the audio originates from the front channels. The vocals lack any and all dynamics and are far too soft in the mix. Unless you're constantly changing raising and lowering the volume, you're either going to get your ears blasted out with music or strain them in an attempt to hear the dialog. There's no happy medium.
The only sound emitted from the rear and surround channels is music. Like I mentioned, the music levels are much too high for compared to dialog, but mix of the music itself within the channels is strong, spreading it throughout the theater. If it wasn't for the high use of music, this Master Audio track would be extraordinarily lifeless. Effects hardly come into play. When there are are noticeable instances, the sounds are locked into the front channels. The many montages provide plenty of uses of effects, but the most prevalent sounds during them are the music.
Unlike the video quality, which exceeds expectations for a movie of this low caliper, the audio quality is more of what you'd expect from a title like 'Honey 2.'
Here we go – another dance movie follows the mold of every other contemporary dance movie out there. No wonder this 2010 title is finally seeing the light of day via a direct-to-Blu release. A new dancing crew is looking to dethrone a literal dancing gang on a televised dance-off competition series. Not only do they dance against one another in front of the cameras, but they hold dance-offs in alley's and under bridges. The story is so typical and clichéd that you know exactly where it's going to end from the second it begins. The movie was given a sharp and detailed video quality far superior to what it deserves, but the audio is on the same low level as the movie. There are plenty of decent special features aimed at those whole love modern dance, but nothing too substantial. The fact that bad movies like this are greenlit by major studios makes me angry because the millions they pump into this garbage could have gone into making some that's actually worth watching. Due to the severe absurdity of the movie, 'Honey 2' is a Blu-ray worth skipping.