Journey 2 – The Mysterious Island picks up a few years after Journey to the Center of the Earth. This time around, no one from the original has decided to come back except for Josh Hutchenson who plays the lead character of Sean in both the films. This time around, Sean is determined to track down his grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine) who has vanished several years ago to the Mysterious Island. With the help of Hank (Dwayne Johnson), Sean learns that if you rip out three pages from various books that they form a map that tell them how to get to this island. It’s only a matter of time before Hank and Sean venture to this island to track down Alexander and share a new adventure together.
When I first saw the trailer for Journey 2, I actually wasn’t that disappointed with the idea. I found it to be entertaining, however, without Brendan Fraser involved, I did wonder why they even labeled the film as a sequel. This film could have simply just have been called “The Mysterious Island” and they could have eliminated the unnecessary links back to the original which where embedded in the film. That was one thing right off the bat that frustrated me a lot was the constant reference to the original, while there was nothing that directly linked to the film other then Sean, who could have easily been renamed since Josh Hutchenson always plays in these types of films.
As the movie moved along, I found myself becoming less and less interested. The opening sequence of the bicycle chase scene felt like something ripped directly out of an 80’s movie and the entire idea of the troubled teen who is mad at his mother for remarrying is so cliched and uninspired even for a family film. The movie after its introduction gets a bit more interesting until Luis Guzman enters and becomes the plucky comic relief. His little one liners and silly scenes just become annoying. You can tell the filmmakers clearly wrote him in the film to be the jokester, but he quickly became irritating as all hell and what made it worse was that it felt as if the filmmakers couldn’t get Jack Black to play the role so they settled for Guzman.
Besides seeing that Guzman’s character was just written in for simple comic relief. It is clear to me that Hudgens was also written into the film for two reasons: The first is to play the love interest and the second is to be eye candy for all the teen boys who may want to see this film. Hudgens, while always looking beautiful on screen, does nothing to add to the film at all. The relationship between her character Kailani and Sean just felt really forced and didn’t come off as natural at all. This film was one of the first films that I seen in a while that I clearly felt during the second script revision that someone said “Ok, good but we need a love interest and we need someone to act like a fool.” There are certain things you know most films use and need, but this one clearly felt as if the characters were inserted because they added nothing to the film.
To end my rant on the performances, I have to point out that Michael Caine is a part of this film playing a character that you thought he would have played in the 1980’s before he actually started getting really strong parts. He wasn’t bad in the film, however, the constant childish bickering back and forth between him and Dwayne Johnson made me roll my eyes several different times. I also have to say that Dwayne Johnson is usually likable because he has a good on-screen persona. It’s too bad that this film didn’t ask him to be charming, but rather just smile almost every time he was on screen. It was almost like he was constantly being photographed and wanted to smile for the camera.
I need to mention is the fact that the story felt uninspired and didn’t really flow well. I already complained about how the film didn’t need to reference back to the original because it didn’t matter but there are a few other issues as well. The reason Sean and Hank went to this island was a stretch because it felt too simplistic, but what made it worse was that the film just jumped around when they got there. In its short running time there are interactions with elephants, dinosaurs, giant bees, a giant electric eel, and a trip to Atlantis. There was just too much going on giving the film a “too busy” feel. The entire setup was to find Michael Caine and when he showed up it was like one of those “Oh, there he is, what should we do now” moments.
The movie also really used too many special effects that at least to me looked extremely cheap and unrealistic. The film seemed to bank on the CGI to sell the movie as well as the 3D effects. I also did not like the fact that the film used so many slow motion effects repeatedly. It’s like the filmmaker said “You know what would make this scene cooler, if it was slowed down a bit” and it would have been fine if it was done once. The problem however is that the film did it repeatedly during every single moment where something involving special effects happened from the bee flight scene to the underwater scenes.
In conclusion, I was extremely let down by Journey 2 – The Mysterious Island. I feel that I was harder on this film than a lot of others this year because I actually saw some sort of potential in this film from the trailer. I usually love family adventure films and found the first one to be rather enjoyable. This one just felt uninspired and unnecessary. I spent the entire movie searching for positive things to say about the film, but really just left the theater saying to myself “At least Vanessa Hudgens was nice to look at.” I hate being that guy and saying stuff like that, but I just didn’t feel like anything else worked in this film. I thought Michael Caine was fun, but the constant childish banter with Dwayne Johnson just made me angry. The way the film ends leading into a sequel was like the straw that broke the camels back for me because it’s like what else can these people do and why would they do it. It just felt forced like the majority of the film. I really can’t recommend this film. I would say if you want to watch it wait for Redbox or catch it on cable.
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for Journey 2 – The Mysterious Island is a 4 out of 10.