Journey 2: The Mysterious Island offers much visual spectacle yet falls flat in every other way, making this a lost adventure movie not worth seeking at the multiplexes.
Journey to the Centre of the Earth was the first film to re-employ 3D as a cinematic tool to up entertainment quality and boost box office dollars. While that film was ahead of the curve, its sequel Journey 2: The Mysterious Island lags behind better films that used the combination of CGI-lost world adventure-3D to greater effect.
Josh Hutcherson reprises his role of Sean Anderson, a rebellious teen and inner-world explorer who drags his easy to please step-dad Hank (Dwayne Johnson) on an adventure to find the mysterious island, which Jules Vern wrote about in his books. On their way they employ the services of a shoddy airline pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) to fly into the most dangerous part of the Pacific Ocean, where (naturally) a freak storm forces them to crash into the island of their destination.
It is the introduction of this new found territory that highlights the strength of the film: its visual extravagance. CGI effects provides a lush environment of bright green vegetation, a volcano that erupts gold, and a bizarro attitude to size where large animals such as elephants are no bigger than puppy dogs and bugs/amphibians are the size of Mack Trucks.
It also has an effect on its cast. In our world, Michael Caine is a well-respected actor who chooses his projects well. On The Mysterious Island, Caine is an over acting disgrace to his alternate self. Such is the power of poor family adventure entertainment.
The rest of the cast don’t fare any better. Josh Hutcherson’s only asset is his connection to the first movie, Vanessa Hudgens plays nothing more than eye candy as she runs around in tank top and short short’s, and poor Luis Guzman is left with all of the jokes but receives no laughter.
Hope is placed on Dwayne Johnson to do a Fast Five and elevate this material, yet the powers of The Mysterious Island prove to be too strong even for The Rock who becomes a goofy mess, playing a Ukulele and flexing his chest muscles at every given moment.
It’s left to the visual effects to dazzle us and director Brad Peyton along with his effects team do create a pretty backdrop, while a chase sequence involving giant bee’s has moments of suspense and looks good on the big screen.
Yet to reiterate, such imagery has been done before in much better films. Journey 2 needed more than visual spectacle to work. Humour, suspense and characters worth caring about would have been a valuable addition to a poor movie.