Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Warner Bros provided me with a complimentary copy of this adventure. The set comes with both the Blu-ray disc as well as the DVD giving me the opportunity to compare the two formats. There’s simply no contest. The Blu-ray print is significantly clearer, brighter and more sonically rich than the DVD counterpart. I knew Blu-ray would be better, but I didn’t realize by how much. It certainly looks beautiful. Too bad the visuals didn’t match the script.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a severe step down in quality from 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth.  It really doesn’t feel like a continuation of the original, but its own separate entity.  Yes, it’s based on another Jules Verne novel but young actor Josh Hutcherson is the solitary cast member to make it to this installment.  This is essentially a stand-alone episode and doesn’t require knowledge of the previous entry. Putting Journey 2 at the beginning of the title only serves to have a sentence that’s a cringe-worthy pun. Walden Media, best known as the producers of The Chronicles of Narnia series, is the children’s film production company behind this.  The adventure is aimed solely at children.  Most of you adults will be bored, but your children should enjoy it.

The actors are of the utmost importance in a picture such as this because their group dynamic provides the mechanism by which the audience becomes engaged in what is happening. The ensemble, with one exception, is an epic fail. The plot revolves around Josh Hutcherson as Sean Anderson.  He’s forgettable as the boy trying to locate his missing grandfather.  Other than being kind of sullen toward his stepfather, there’s nothing regarding his performance that is remotely memorable. Luis Guzman’s part is a glaring embarrassment. As a helicopter tour guide, he behaves like an intellectually disabled man-child. The baby talk and mincing about is a shocking humiliation. It’s sad seeing a gifted actor that has shone in Paul Thomas Anderson gems (Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love), resort to a character that is utterly beneath him. Vanessa Hudgens is his daughter and young Sean’s obligatory love interest. She could be any random girl from Los Angeles. Kailani comes off as irritable when it’s obvious the script means for her to be feisty. She even lacks the minimal amount of emotional depth required. When she learns that her father has gone missing, she amusingly takes Sean’s hand and suggestively looks at him like she’s in love before expressing the expected concern for her father’s disappearance. Michael Caine shows up too, but you’d never know he was an acting legend given the little he’s asked to do here. Only Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a likeable presence.  He’s the physical embodiment of an action hero plus his affable personality goes a long way in making the blandness of his co-stars bearable.

This fails to meet the basic requirements of a film. There is no story, merely a succession of “giant” events. First a giant lizard chases them, then they’re riding giant bees bareback, now they’re being chased by giant birds, later they’re almost killed by a giant electric eel. For an encore we get a giant spider just as a freak storm appears as a volcano is erupting.  All the special effects in the world are not a compensation for an exciting plot. This is a collection of action set pieces that should ultimately inspire the inevitable ride at a theme park. In an early scene Hank helps his stepson Sean decipher the code of literary characters which leads to three books; Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels and Mysterious Island. There is but a small outside chance that this movie might encourage a child to pick up one of those books and actually read it. For that, I’ll give this 2 stars.

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6 Responses to “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”

  1. I’m starting to think that this Warner Bros. Blu-Ray program is giving you the opportunity to watch films you probably wouldn’t have watched otherwise. I couldn’t imagine you watching this. Still, great review. This frees me from having to see it.

  2. This was laughable, but not in a good way. I completely agree with your Luis Guzman section, he should be embarrassed. It had a lot of cheesy 3 d effects that I’m sure kids loved. But not a movie for adults.

  3. Nicely written as always and excellent observations. I understand your feelings about the movie. but as per mine, i found some enjoyment amidst all its flaws. i enjoyed this for some of the same reasons i liked Jurassic Park 3 or Land of the Lost.

    Here is your line “…First a giant lizard chases them, then they’re riding giant bees bareback, now they’re being chased by giant birds, later they’re almost killed by a giant electric eel. For an encore we get a giant spider just as a freak storm appears as a volcano is erupting..” All that….. is exciting to watch. and i don’t think these are moments for only kids to enjoy . just a thought.

    • Of course your opinion isn’t wrong. You enjoyed all those things and that’s fair. I felt like I was watching the resume of an accomplished special effects supervisor. I just wanted an interesting story too.

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