Warner Bros. // 2012 // 94 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 23rd, 2012
Believe the impossible! Discover the incredible!
Proving once again that Hollywood will make a sequel to anything, a bunch of actors return to large green screens to be chased by huge lizards, birds, and insects in the all-but-in-name-only sequel Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, now available on Blu-ray care of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.
Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games) is a troubled kid. His father has left his mother and now he's got to deal with his new stepfatherm, Hank Parsons (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Fast Five). As Hank attempts to bond with his new son, the two finds themselves thrown into the adventure of a lifetime, when Sean descrambles a broadcast signal and Hank decodes a map of Jules Vern's Mysterious Island. Through a series of events not important enough to note here, Sean and Hank arrive on the island of Palau and meet a goofy local pilot, Gabato (Luis Guzman, Traffic), and his sexy teenage daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens, Beastly), who join the two men on their journey.
The trip is short lived, though, as their charter plane is caught in a freak thunderstorm, sending our heroes crashing onto the island the very island they were looking for, where they meet up with Sean's explorer grandfather (Michael Caine, The Dark Knight). It's quickly deduced that the island is sinking and the five castaways must find Captain Nemo's ship the Nautilus (conveniently located on the island) or risk ending up 20,000 leagues under the sea!
So sue me, I never did see Journey to the Center of the Earth, the first movie in this family friendly adventure series. It starred Brendan Fraser as a father who...well, I dunno, I guess traveled to the center of the earth? And in 3D, no less! I'd like to tell you I did a lot of research and boned up on the first film, but after watching Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, I decided I'd had just about enough of this genre and wanted to cut my losses. When The Rock started strumming a mini-guitar and singing a bizarre rendition of "What a Wonderful World" while Michael Caine giggled in the background, I metaphorically packed my bags and was ready to head home.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the epitome of disposable entertainment. It's a lackluster, CGI-infused noise show that features terrible dialogue, chintzy special effects, and depressingly bad performances by normally good actors. It's the kind of movie that actually spends more than thirty seconds on a joke involving berries being thrown at The Rock's flexing pectoral muscles. When the berries then bounced towards the screen as a 3D effect, I knew I was in dire straits.
The film clocks in at just over an hour and a half, and even with that rather short run time Journey 2: The Mysterious Island buckles in its attempts to flesh out a plot interesting enough to hold the audience's attention for more than fifteen minutes. The narrative has its basis in three literary classics: Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and (most heavily) Jules Verne's Mysterious Island (notch). But make no mistake, this is pure Hollywood hooey. The screenplay by Richard Outten, Brian Gunn, and Mark Gunn is filled with scenes lifted from other better adventure films (including the Indiana Jones franchise). The whole concept is so weak, I call this an "A-to-B" movie; in other words, there are no complex subplots, twists, or turns. Just five people who need to get from point A (the island) to point B (off the island).
I can only imagine the reason certain actors choose films like this is because the paycheck is rather hefty or the filming locations are just heavenly. I surmise it was both for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson fares best as the wisecracking ex-military stepfather who can't believe his own eyes most of the time. Johnson always has an affable, pleasant on-screen personality and it serves him well here. In truth, he's the only worthwhile component in the entire film. Poor Michael Caine isn't given much to do except offer up exposition every so often ("We have to find the Nautilus!") and look really out of shape in an explorer's uniform. Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Hutcherson spend most of the time riding giant bees and making goo-goo eyes at each other. Then there's Luis Guzman, a character so gratingly unfunny that every time he steps in front of the camera I dread whatever lame, anemic joke is about to tumble from his lips.
One of the most irritating aspects of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the terribly rendered computer effects on display (often in 3D, which look ridiculous in 2D) in almost every single scene. Nothing looks even remotely believable; when Hank, Sean, and the rest of the group are chased by giant birds while riding enormous bumblebees, all I could think was, "Boy, they sure look like they're having fun riding a pommel horse in front of a green screen." This is one of those films I refer to as suffering from "The George Lucas Principle," where every corner of the frame is jam packed with some kind of special effect.
I can sort of see how Journey 2: The Mysterious Island would be a big hit with the tween set; it's action packed without being too real, and thrilling without being overly scary. The characters are all lighthearted, broadly drawn, and gliding through a plot that's easy enough for youngsters to follow. That's all well and good for them, but it leaves the rest of us struggling to find a reason to endure so many well worn cinematic clichés.
Presented in 1.85:1/1080p high definition widescreen, Warner offers up a transfer whose bright colors pop off the screen. There is a lot of eye candy to be absorbed; lush green jungles, deep blue oceans, and scaly drooling monstrosities. The picture has a deep clarity that makes everything look crystal clear. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is engaging and heavily bombastic. This is the kind of movie that features all kinds of rollicking surround sounds. The front, rear, and side speakers are all engaged without any obvious defects. The only bonus features included are some deleted scenes and a gag reel. We do also get the standard def DVD copy and Ultraviolet digital copy for your portable devices.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is middling entertainment, a harmless sequel that will entertain younger viewers but do little for anyone whose tastes lie beyond Little Caesar's Pizza and "Dance Dance Revolution."
This is one trip I don't need to take again. Guilty!
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Deleted Scenes
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy
* Official Site