Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, Josh Hutcherson and Michael Caine star in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

A passion for exploring the novels of Jules Vern? Then this is your movie. Filled with adventure, mystery and comedy, Journey 2 sees Sean Anderson from the first film (Journey to the Centre of the Earth) now a teenager, trying to solve his own puzzle – how to get to the famous Mysterious Island and rescue his Grandfather.

The film starts with action straight away with Sean (played by a now even more famous Josh Hutcherson, star of The Hunger Games) trying to escape a police car on his motor bike. He lands in a spot of trouble and his new step father; Hank (played by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) has to come to his rescue. They are not exactly seeing eye to eye and the relationship is more than frosty. However once Sean explains that he was stealing from a satellite building to retrieve a signal that he picked up, the two then seem to start forming a bond. Hank used to be a marine who specialised in the code, so his skill set starts to impress Sean, mainly because he can now use him for something. Hank however sees this as a chance to get along and is soon suggesting to Liz (Kristin Davis) that, now they have the co-ordinates to the island, he and Sean should make a trip there.

This route has a reputation for no-one ever returning, so it’s a little bit hard to find a pilot who is willing to take them there. However, Gabato (played by Luis Guzman) hears the magic words $1,000 and he is more than happy to fly into the danger zone along with his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). Sean, of course, is happy to welcome the company, especially when Kailani is so pretty. As expected, they soon encounter some technical helicopter difficulties due to a wild storm, but guess what? They reach the island… and that’s where the fun begins.

Directed by Brad Peyton, Journey 2 does exactly what it says on the tin, it is a film for kids that kids will love and, if you have kids, you will enjoy sitting down and watching it with them – and there’s nothing wrong with that because this happens to be a really good kid’s film. The characters are likeable and the action is steady. There is nothing too fast-paced and there’s no confusing story lines either.

Unlike The Hunger Games where he offers more, Josh Hutchinson isn’t stretching himself here, but he plays a good male lead in this fantasy film. Hudgens too is pretty much just eye candy for the film. The Rock is very appealing in these kind of films and anyone who has seen his other kid-based films will know he is very easy to watch and always plays the role of the protector. Also, because he is built and strong it is similar to watching a giant stomp about set, and that’s always fun. A comical turn by Michael Caine as Sean’s grandfather Alexander is also very good. He does play the barmy explorer role well, offering witty banter against Hank throughout most of the film.

What is endearing in the film is the bond between Hank and Sean and how that changes and grows. There is an amusing scene where Hank is trying to give some fatherly advice about girls and some interesting pecs flexing action occurs.

If choosing elements of the film that were lacking, it would have to be the special effects (and this was shown in 3D in cinemas) compared to some of the other fantasy adventure films the effects here aren’t as strong in certain parts and look out of place against the scenery. However, some are okay, for example encountering the lizard, but again this is then brought down with the tiny scene with a miniature elephant.

To put it simply, this is a great family fun adventure film, one that everyone can enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Also it might spark an interest in reading some Jules Vern to find out what all the fuss is about.

Best scene: Escaping the island.
Best line: ‘The name is Hank, pops’.
Best performance: Michael Caine.

The Mysterious Island was never a sequel to Journey to the Centre of the Earth, it was however the sequel to 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

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