Movie Review: Journey 2- The Mysterious Island

I love going to the cinema during the week, it tends to be quieter, but I think it might be half term because today’s trip was marred by annoying, loud children. I arrived at Vue and was faced with two choices- Journey 2: The Mysterious Island or Martha Marcy May Marlene. I went for Journey 2 because I  knew that it starred Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I’d heard nothing of the other movie.

This was a mistake. There was this annoying brat running around at the front of the cinema, and his parents seemed in no hurry to calm him down. Have kids gotten more annoying? Or have parents just got worse?

Even worse, I was the only person there not with children. This meant I was drawing odd looks from some of the parents. Jeez, can’t a guy go see a family friendly movie without suspicion.

Anyway, on to the film.

The film is a sequel to the 2008 action adventure Journey To The Center Of The Earth, which starred Brendan Fraser. It feels a bit bizarre to have done a sequel 4 years after an original that as far as I remember didn’t make much of a splash. Hell, I haven’t seen it, and I’m a massive fan of Fraser.

It also doesn’t bode well that Fraser doesn’t return for this flick, with the leading man role being filled by Dwayne Johnson.

The plot follows teenager Sean (Josh Hutcherson) who starts the film evading arrest having broken into a satellite research center. He’s picked up and taken home by his stepfather Hank (Johnson). Sean reveals that he was breaking in access a broadcast he believes was sent by his missing grandfather.

It turns out Sean and his grandfather are Vernians, who are people who believe that the works of Jules Verne are not science fiction, but science fact.

The message is encoded and using his skills from his navy days, and attempting to bond with his stepson, Hank decodes it, revealing the location of the mysterious island from Verne’s book. Sean wants to go, and sulks but Hank agrees to take him.

They charter a helicopter pilot, Gabato (Luis Guzman) to take them to the island on the basis that he is the only person mad enough to sign up for the mission into a notoriously stormy region and because Sean takes a shine to his hot daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens).

Caught in a storm they end up crashing onto the island, where they encounter weird creatures like pygmy elephants and giant bugs.

They find Sean’s granddad, Alexander (Michael Caine) and realise that the island is on the verge of sinking back under the sea. They must cross the island, find the Nautillus and make good their escape.

As you can tell from the plot synopsis its an extremely daft movie, but I found it quite good fun, mainly because of Johnson’s charismatic performance, he’s got an easy going charm and is responsible for much of the humour in the film. In fact the “pec pop of love” scene is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a good while.

He goofs around and even sings and throughout is on fine form. Johnson has genuine star quality.

Johnson- Genuine star quality

He’s ably assisted in the humour stakes by Caine and Guzman who are extremely entertaining. You get the feeling for Caine that this may be Jaws: The Revengeterritory and he’s happy just taking an easy pay day, but even when lazily taking the money he’s more charismatic and entertaining than most.

Caine and Guzman- good comic relief

In fact the weakest link in the film is Hutcherson as Sean. He’s moody, sulks a lot and gives Hank a hard time when his stepdad is actually pretty damn cool.

Go on, hit him with the Rock Bottom!

Yes, by the end of the film he comes to realise that there are worse thing to have than a stepdad who takes an interest in your life and will fund your half baked trip in search of a mysterious island. This seems to be the theme of the film family and father figures, both absent and devoted.

The thing is, there’s a whole load of douchery before this realisation and I never really warmed to the guy.

This is a minor wrinkle and other than this, its a fairly decent family movie. The island is quite stunning and the giant bugs are quite good, well, good enough to scare the shit out of one of the kids behind me. And while the action sequences go in for needless slo-mo that robs them of their momentum, they’re largely entertaining.

You feel that a more experienced director could’ve made it a lot better. Joe Dante would’ve revelled more in the creepiness and Stephen Sommers probably would’ve made it more of an old-school thrill ride.

Also, and this is a key factor, the romance between Kailani and Sean is handled fairly well, in the tried and tested, she’s not interested at first kind of way. Hudgens has a fairly good screen presence and most importantly, while she’s extremely attractive and dressed in short shorts and a skimpy top its all filmed in a strictly family friendly way.

The camera remains at a respectful distance, avoiding the lecherous camerawork that ogled Megan Fox in the Transformers flicks. I’m no prude, and I enjoy the charms of Fox as much as the next man, but it just seems a little sleazy for a 12A movie about robots beating each other up.

The one downside of Hudgens being good in this, as she was in Sucker Punch, means that now that she and Zac Efron have proven they have good on screen presence I’m kind of tempted to check out High School Musical, but that goes no further than here, okay?

It won’t change your life and its not quite up there with the best family action-adventures, its still a diverting enough movie but really only the kind of thing you’ll end up watching on Christmas Day afternoon while bloated with turkey or on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Verdict: Daft but fairly enjoyable family fun, carried by the charismatic Johnson. But the whole film has an aura of “could do better”. 5/10.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. TTFN.

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