Do you like obvious comic beats? How about colorful special effects? The comedic stylings of Luis Guzmán covered in various animal fluids? Plotlines that defy all sense of logic? How about this: would you, dear viewer, like to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson bounce berries off of his flexing pectoral muscles IN 3D!? Then you should immediately book your screening to Journey 2: The Mysterious Island!
This awkwardly-titled sequel picks up a few years after the original 2008 release Journey to the Center of the Earth, and features Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) as the lone returning character to the franchise. Now a full-fledged “Vernian,” Sean turns his adolescent rebellion into looking for clues to find his lost adventurer grandfather, last known to be searching for the Mysterious Island from Verne’s 1874 novel of the same name. His first target? Breaking into government satellite research facilities. A pretty crafty and rather productive use of teen angst if you ask me. However, his cocky and fearless attitude also prevents him from bonding with his stepfather Hank (Johnson) and his ineffective mother (Kristin Davis in a thankless role). It’s this conflict that sets the adventure in motion, and allows two seemingly responsible parents to risk their child’s life (and one of their own) for the sake of familial harmony.
Anyway, likely bolstered by the tourism board of Palau, Sean and Hank head off on a father-son bonding trip to try and find the island. Incidentally, the location to Verne’s island is also somehow tied to the island from Treasure Island, and somewhere from Gulliver’s Travels too, but the film doesn’t give much detail there, besides having three maps from different books magically be in the same scale. While in Palau, they meet up with an opportunistic helicopter pilot, Gabato (Guzmán), and his jailbait daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) who offer to make the risky journey with them for a price. Hijinks, giant versions of small animals, tiny versions of large animals, flirtatious hormones, questionable (at best) science, and Michael Caine awesomeness ensues. All I can say is that I hope to get to a point in my career where I can demand applause upon entering a room. Lessons are learned, a boy becomes a sort-of man, families become stronger, and the road to Journey 3: From the Earth to the Moon is teased.
Overall, Journey 2 is nothing if not a pleasant film for the wide-eyed adventurous youngster. The breakneck pacing, and the general lack of seriousness from everyone involved helps keep this one enjoyable. Another positive note is that the 3D is actually quite good, especially since the island enjoys such a bright color palette so darkness is less of an issue than normal. Innocuous family entertainment at its best!
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island opens today in Philly-area theaters.