Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, sequel 2008’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3D, serves up a treat in the looks department, but ultimately is rather lackluster everywhere else.
Our adventure begins with Sean (John Hutcherson) receiving a strange coded message, and in an effort to improve a strained relationship with his step-dad Hank (Dwayne Johnson), the two of them work together on cracking the code. Wasting no time, they crack the 150 year old mystery within 10 minutes and discover the location of a mysterious island. Naturally, they head off in search of the island, ending up at Palau and here Hank and Sean enlist the help of Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) to take them to the island.
And what an island it is. With cat sized elephants and horse sized ants, a mysterious city and lush jungle environments, it’s rich with character. If you’re a fan of 3D, you’re in for a treat here as the panoramic views across the island look fantastic. There were only two occasions when the 3D was a bit too much, one instance being a chase scene when the rapid cuts meant the eyes just couldn’t cope with sudden changes in objects popping out of the screen. However it was a real shame that the centrepiece of the island, a volcano that spews out molten gold, was never really used. It’s wondrous properties could have made for s0mething great, and for something that was teased a lot by the characters and camera it’s actually annoying that they didn’t visit it. Why bother mentioning it when you’re not going to use it? Despite that, on the whole Journey 2 does sure look the part.
Unfortunately, the looks don’t make up for the rest of the film as all the characters were rather dull and very clichéd, not t0 mention a plot line that lacked depth. It had the typical strained relationship between boy and step-father, you had the boy meets girl, boy likes girl, girl has no interest in boy, quick awkward exchange, boy later saves girl’s life and they live happily ever after. Even Michael Caine, who has put in some tremendous performances during his life, just seemed a bit silly here. It’s sad to say that I thought that Dwayne Johnson put in the better performance across the board.
Luiz played the comedy character of the film, but the jokes generally fell flat with the audience, with both adults and children. It did have its moments though and by far the biggest laugh came from some rather odd exchange between Hank and Sean and involving dancing pecs. There is also a particularly enjoyable scene during which I was pleasantly surprised to witness The Rock singing sweetly to his own fitting rendition of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” on a small guitar. Both the audience and (for once, the actors) appreciated this moment of heart warming fun which was one of the few unique and original scenes during the entire film.
The biggest issue with the film is the lack of struggle found in a good adventure movie, and the pace which the characters moved on. As soon as our protagonists came across an obstacle, a solution was found in moments, and not straightforward solutions either. The interesting things they came across were not explored in the slightest and we never felt a danger for the characters.
Unfortunately the island still remained mysterious as we never explored any of element of it for more than five minutes before we moved on. And it’s such a shame too, with references to some of literature’s most famous books (Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels and Mysterious Island) seemingly used to just add some gravitas to the film.
All in all, the film itself was the only 3D offering with the characters falling completely flat against the back drop of an island that will remain mysterious. A technically well made spectacle that will not disappoint kids with its visual splender, but certainly no classic family adventure that will be enjoyed by both children and adults again and again.