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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

2012 | 94 min | PG | 1.85:1

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island


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User reviews

2 user reviews

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 10 February, 2012
 03 February, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native)

Box office




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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island


Screenshots from Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 3D Blu-ray

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, February 9, 2012

While I don’t doubt its appeal with family audiences, 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” wasn’t exactly a screaming artistic success. Released during the early stages of the current 3D revolution, the picture was a novelty, capturing box office attention with its commitment to in-your-face Jules Verne-inspired spectacle, buttered up by the rubbery antics of star Brendan Fraser. Four years later, Fraser is gone and it now appears a great deal of audiences resent 3D releases, making the conception and timing of “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” precarious at best. While burdened with a leaden script built only with cliché, the sequel manages to pack a harder punch of adventure than its predecessor, making better use of its 3D environments, bringing in Dwayne Johnson to restart the party while co-star Michael Caine classes up the joint.

In possession of a satellite code sent by his estranged grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine), teen Sean (a predictably wooden Josh Hutcherson) is itching to find the mythical Mysterious Island and retrieve his adventurous elder. Hoping to bond with his new stepson, Hank (Dwayne Johnson) agrees to accompany Sean to Palau to see if the clues actually do lead to a land previously thought to exist only in the imagination of author Jules Verne. Teaming up with bumbling helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his helpful daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), the foursome take off into the great unknown, finding a typhoon ocean portal that brings the gang to a place of wonder and environmental instability. Meeting up with Alexander, the team learns they only have a few days before the island is plunged underwater, an escape challenge that requires knowledge of Verne’s bibliography and the ability to dodge monstrous lizards, birds, and electric eels to complete.

Shaking off most of the previous cast and installing new director Brad Peyton (“Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”) at the helm, “Journey 2” is off to a fresh start, connecting the two features with the character of Sean, a punky kid explorer in the original and now a maturing sidekick crushing out on Kailani in the sequel. It’s a tenuous link connecting the movies, leaving screenwriters Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn to panic, scrambling to manufacture a heart at the center of all the splashy visual effects. Unfortunately, the brothers opt to mine the tentative relationship between Sean and Hank, playing up their discomfort as stepfather and stepson, while Alexander is the neglectful grandfather, missing the family experience as he traipses all over the world (and beyond). Kailani and Gabato also have a tired subplot to beat into submission, finding the clown prince of the skies worried about his daughter’s dissipating dreams of college due to financial hardship. The conflicts are painted with primary colors, playing down to an audience capable of accepting less contrived dramatics with their CGI bonanza, slowing the film to a crawl to hit obvious notes of redemption. It’s artificial material that doesn’t kill the picture, only wounding it on occasion, grounding the excitement with incredibly uninspired writing.

Away from all the domestic discord, “Journey 2” manages to create some striking scenes of pursuit and discovery. Let loose inside a foreign land where prey have become predators and a bulging mountain of gold begs for exploration, the gang finds themselves in repeated turmoil, requiring quick thinking and, of course, the use of giant bees to help evade attack. The visual effects are cartoonish but fit into the spirit of the sequel, throwing jeopardy into the lap of the audience with a satisfactory exploitation of 3D elements, providing depth to the fantasyland. The cast is surprisingly game to go wherever danger leads, with Johnson an apt hero capable of charm and brute force, making Hank and his convenient abilities (a former Navy man, the dude is skilled at everything) amusing, keeping the picture on task. Johnson even sells Hank’s game of love advice to Sean with the appropriate amount of cheekiness (the ladies love pec pops), freshening a stale detour. Caine is equally engaging as Alexander, putting years of screen experience to use in a forgettable part. Guzman is left with the screaming wuss role, offered plenty of improvisational opportunities that never seem to find a laugh, while Hudgens goes the bland damsel-in-distress route, fulfilling some type of unnecessary T&A quota as Peyton lingers on the actress’s feminine charms.

“Journey 2” isn’t lightning paced, but when it makes the effort to revel in its Verne-flavored playground of creatures and fantasy investigation (throwing in some Indiana Jones references for taste), it’s amusing. The sequel could’ve been bolder, with more emphasis on peril rather than interpersonal distance. However, it’s more entertaining than its precursor, providing heartier escapism and sophisticated 3D thrills.

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Branscombe Richmond, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis
Director: Brad Peyton

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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island 42 Feb 27, 2012

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