Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Review
Sometimes you have to wonder why sequels are made without all of the original elements in place. Let me bring up one in particular that bugs me to no end — Speed 2: Cruise Control. Okay, so Sandra Bullock is back, great. But who in the world thought Jason Patric could replace Keanu Reeves? And for that matter, why the hell is there a cruise ship where a bus is supposed to be? It’s stuff like this that makes me question the logic of Hollywood…and here I am doing it again with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
The only character returning from the original film, the remake to Journey To the Center of the Earth that came out a few years ago, is Sean (Josh Hutcherson), and he’s placed in a new situation without any given explanation as to what happened to his dad (played by Brendan Fraser) and his newfound girlfriend from the first film. All we know is that he’s living with his new stepdad, Hank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) and that he’s immediately set on a task to track down his stranded grandfather (Michael Caine), who’s activated a homing beacon pointing to a location in the middle of nowhere. Now, with Dwayne being unable to stop him (or at least slap him silly and call him “Jabronie”), he tags along, hiring a helicopter pilot (Luiz Guzman) and his beautiful daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) to fly them there.
It isn’t long before disaster strikes, as a sudden storm crash-lands our heroes on a mysterious island. There, they not only find dear ol’ grandpa scavenging about, but also all sorts of danger afoot, from large creatures to a volcano that threatens to destroy the entire island. It’s a race against time as they try to find a way off of it.
I do like the fact that the sequel relies on natural dangers rather than introducing some stupid supervillain or a subplot to set things in motion, but that’s really about the only realistic thing about this movie. The producers failed to conjure up any sort of reasonable CG budget, and as a result, Journey 2 looks like a fake ride. Take the bees, for instance. How Dwayne and his crew managed to wrangle them up is questionable, and the fact they don’t even react as convincingly as the one in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids — a movie well over 20 years ago, by the way — is ridiculous. Oh, but Guzman does get covered in crap. Well, that’s nice.
The lack of a reasonable budget — and any kind of well meaning pacing — makes Journey 2 feel like an unnecessary ride, though kids will no doubt love it. However, it could’ve done with more excitement and less comic moments, like Dwayne trying to explain to his stepson the rules of love, as he’s obviously trying to woo Hudgens. This, for some reason, involves his pecs and a berry that comes flying out of the screen.
And the 3D? Well, it's decent, but you’re probably better off watching the great effects that come out of The Phantom Menace. Really.
As for the performances, they’re modest at best. Caine’s clearly dialing this one in, doing the most he can with the role, while Dwayne does his usual action stuff — nothing more, nothing less. Hudgens makes good eye candy, but that’s really about it; and Guzman is the comic foil. Sometimes I wonder what he’d do in the lead role for a film, you know?
That about covers it. While younglings and 3D fans may appreciate Journey 2, its lack of reasonable effects and any given explanation to what happened to Fraser just makes it feel like one of those old 3D rides you found at the amusement park. The only difference is it’s cheaper and probably more entertaining. Plus you don’t have to worry about pecs.