Journey 2: The Mysterious Island actually isn’t too bad of a movie. Even as an adult, I found it to be fairly entertaining and although I’d hardly say anything in the acting department was great and the characters are paper thin, the adventure and fantasy elements, along with a breezy plot, makes up for any of the movie’s flaws.
Genre(s): Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Comedy
Warner Bros. | PG – 94 min. – $29.98 | June 5, 2012
Directed by: Brad Peyton
Writer(s): Richard Outten and Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn (story), Brian Gunn & Mark Gunn (screenplay)
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman
Theatrical Release Date: February 10, 2012
Features: Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, UltraViolet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the sequel to the modest hit, Journey to the Center of the Earth and starred Brendan Fraser who takes his nephew on an exploration that takes them on an adventure to, well, the center of the earth. The new journey doesn’t include Fraser and even recast the role of the mother…
The sequel opens with Sean Anderson (JOSH HUTCHERSON) on a motorbike escaping from the law after he broke into a satellite station. He’s eventually caught after biking through backyards and spectacularly going into the air and landing into a pool. Sean is bailed out by his stepfather, Hank (DWAYNE JOHNSON). The pair doesn’t get along and he’s not on the greatest terms with his mother, Elizabeth (KRISTIN DAVIS). We discover the reason for Sean’s exploits is to transmit a message received from his long-lost grandfather, to decipher it.
Lucky for Sean, Hank used to be in the Navy and when taking a look at the message he notices a Morse Code within the message and together using Jules Verne’s books, discover a map that when put together displays what is known as “The Mysterious Island” and it includes Longitude and Latitude coordinates. Hank doesn’t believe the island is real but he knows it’s important to Sean and with a desire to make a connection, he convinces Elizabeth to allow the pair to travel to the island of Palau. Once there, they discover that no pilot in their right mind would go to those coordinates as it’s known as a place where planes and ships get lost. Fortunately they find somebody, Gabato (LUIS GUZMAN), who is willing to take them. At first, Hank and Sean don’t want to get on his rickety helicopter, but once Sean sets his eyes on the pilot’s daughter, Kailani (VANESSA HUDGENS), he quickly changes his mind and the four take the trip. They soon discover where the coordinates are located there are swirling tornadoes and rough winds that quickly tears the helicopter apart before they can go back and are swept into the center of the storm.
They wake up on a rough patch of a beach and finding a passageway, they discover what they now know as “The Mysterious Island” and after battling insects and other predators, meet Sean’s long-lost grandfather, Alexander (MICHAEL CAINE), who has set up a nice tree house with all the amenities. The group had hoped to use the transmitter Alexander used to send the message out but find out that the satellite has to be in the right position… which it won’t be for another two weeks. The next day the group journey out but Hank, using more knowledge from his years in the Navy, realizes that the island is sinking after seeing salt water culminate. He estimates they only have a few days and their only hope of survival is to uncover Nemo’s submarine, the location of which is in a journal buried in his tomb on the island.
With the island sinking at a greater rate and the group finding new and interesting obstacles as they try to escape – including a volcano which erupts gold or giant predator birds attacking – will they make it in time? And what about the young budding love between Sean and Kailani? I don’t think there’s any question how this will end, but it’s about the journey (pun intended) to get there that makes or breaks a movie.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is simply put, a fun movie. No, these characters aren’t especially interesting or unique but between some of the comedy which does work and visual effects which tend to be fantastic (other parts look a bit off) makes for an enjoyable fantasy adventure with just enough for the adults to enjoy while those of a younger age will have a blast with.
I also have to give some kudos to the cast it can’t be easy acting against creatures that aren’t really there in an environment that doesn’t really exist. You can see how that kind of scenario worked out in the Star Wars prequels… And yet here, they manage well enough and share some good chemistry that it doesn’t make a thin plotline intolerable or feeling unnecessary, even though there wasn’t a good reason Journey to the Center of the Earth even needed a sequel. For his part, Dwayne Johnson comes across with the right amount of charisma and isn’t nearly as cheesy (save for a song) as he has in other family comedies (see: Tooth Fairy and The Game Plan). While I still think Johnson’s forte is better suited in movies like Fast Five and Faster, he’s not too bad in this movie…
Josh Hutcherson meanwhile has just come off of the wildly successful The Hunger Games, which I have yet to see so I have no idea what kind of an actor he is, but compared with others around his age who have had to carry a movie, he’s not bad and has decent chemistry with Vanessa Hudgens, both of whom turn in OK performances, albeit nothing special.
Then you’ve got the Jack of All Trades, Sir Michael Caine who late in his career apparently can’t say no to any script that comes his way, although he at least mixes it up appearing in some great movies (the Nolan Batman movies, the underrated Noises Off, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, etc) to many clunkers (see: Get Carter remake, Bewitched and, of course, Jaws: The Revenge). For Journey 2, he goes through the motions but like the others, looks like he’s having a grand old time but doesn’t offer anything new that we haven’t already seen before.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was directed by Brad Peyton and if you don’t recognize that name… well, there’s good reason because the only other movie of any note (bad or otherwise) was the awful Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. Well, visually the movie is stunning but it is also light on story (from the writers of Bring It on Again), which is perfectly fine for something like this.
On the whole, Journey 2 is a breezy fantasy-adventure that, while it won’t be taxing on your brain, is still a fun movie that you can sit through without groaning and in fact might even laugh at a few of the jokes. It’s not a very memorable film but given there aren’t many movies in the genre that are fun for the entire family, it’s nice to see one of these released every so often.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.5/5
Only features on the disc is a Gag Reel (1:16) and some needless Deleted Scenes (5:53). Also included is an UltraViolet Digital Copy download code.
VIDEO – 4.25/5
Journey 2 is presented with a 1.78 anamorphic widescreen transfer and while there’s some artifacting here and there, it’s not too bad of a transfer. The black levels seem to be alright and for a standard def release, it has some decent details on the close-up shots.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t anything special, but certainly adequate enough especially during the action scenes. Dialogue levels also aren’t too bad mainly commanding the center channel as the others are used for any side action or ambient sounds.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island actually isn’t too bad of a movie. Even as an adult, I found it to be fairly entertaining and although I’d hardly say anything in the acting department was great and the characters are paper thin, the adventure and fantasy elements, along with a breezy plot, makes up for any of the movie’s flaws.
Even so, if you enjoyed these types of movies then by all means, give this one a chance. It’s not great but perfectly acceptable all things considered.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman