Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this enjoyable Blu-ray release
Young Sean Anderson receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist. It's a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret.
For more about Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and the Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Blu-ray release, see Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on May 29, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
What's the best way to watch Journey 2: The Mysterious Island? With a room full of kids apparently. My wife and I looked after our dear friends' six children one evening last week; which, with our son, means we had seven, count 'em, seven kids, ages three to nine, clamoring for -- what else? -- a movie. It's tricky choosing a film that can entertain a three-year old (for as long as they're willing to stay in the room at least) and make a nine-year old feel as if he isn't being stuck with a kiddie flick. This wasn't the first time we've looked after this particular brood either, so we've had our fair share of failures and strike-outs. But director Brad Peyton's Journey 2? The much-improved, squeaky clean sequel to Eric Brevig's Journey to the Center of the Earth amps up the adventure, soars above the clouds and dives beneath the seas, trots out everything from pint-sized elephants to enormous lizards, cranks up the family friendly comedy, and delivers a harmless but harrowing ball of all-ages fun kids will devour.
Brendan Frasier? Relieved of duty. Anita Briem? Nowhere to be found. Josh Hutcherson? No worries, little fans. Journey to the Center of the Earth's young Sean Anderson is alive and well, although quite a bit different from the last time we met him. Sean is a full-blown teen, struggling for independence, getting into trouble with the police, and itching to set out on a new adventure. He doesn't get along with his mother (Kristin Davis, stepping in for Jane Wheeler), he doesn't want anything to do with his stepfather Hank (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), and the only thing he seems interested in is a code he received in a transmission from his grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine), yet another Anderson-family adventurer. But the moment Sean gets a taste of the mysterious -- thanks to Hank's convenient code-breaking skills and even more convenient willingness to take Sean to the island of Palau where his grandfather's signal originated -- he ditches the angsty teen routine and becomes the same wide-eyed boy from the first film. His grandfather's island, as it turns out, is the same mysterious island Jules Verne wrote about in his late 19th century stories; a mystical island where big things become small and small things become giant man-eating beasts. Now, with the help of a squirrelly helicopter tour guide named Gabato (Luis Guzman), Gabato's daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) and, of course, grandpa Anderson himself, Sean and Hank set out across the mysterious island, determined to discover its secrets.
If you were ever under the mistaken impression that slapstick was dead, look no further than Journey 2. Kids love a good trip, tumble and fall, and clumsy, whimpering scaredy cat Gabato is constantly dropping out of sight, sliding across the ground or plunging into the ooey, gooey center of an enormous egg. Comic relief has never been so endearing, though, and the man you might think would be the film's opportunist-turned-mega-villain is just another family man trying to make ends meet. There aren't any villains in the movie actually, and strained relationships are the only real threat to the Anderson adventure. Johnson is a welcome addition to the still-fledgling series too. Say what you will about his blinding grins, peck popping and cheesy one-liners, the man doesn't know the meaning of the term "phoning it in" and brings his A-game to every animal chase, deep-sea dive, and electric eel fight Peyton and screenwriters Mark and Brian Gunn toss at the screen. Hutcherson has developed into a decent young actor too, despite Sean's all-too-expected budding romance with Hudgens' Kailani, the usual boy/stepfather melodrama, and a wholly unnecessary third-act injury that yanks him out of the action. Caine, meanwhile, is the best of the bunch, going mano e mano with The Rock to amusing ends, bounding around the island like a man half his age (even with a cane in hand), and tying everything together with grandfatherly charm and sage wisdom. Hudgens is the only disappointment, reading her lines and landing her marks but never really connecting with anything around her, human or creature, practical or CG.
Colorful and cartoony as Peyton's mysterious island may be, the sequel's CG creations boast commendable weight and presence. Even when the actors climb aboard one of the island's creatures -- keep in mind mounted monsters have been responsible for some truly shoddy computer-generated visual effects over the years -- everything looks as if it belongs in the same world, without unsightly seams or disjointed elements. Journey 2 still fumbles a few bigger than life shots, and there isn't a minute that passes on the island where something isn't blue-screened, green-screened or clearly tinkered with in some fashion. But the high-flying adventure and jungle-scuttling action is full of wonder; bright, bouncy, kiddie wonder, sure, but wonder all the same. If anything, Journey 2 is a lightweight among family adventures. There's no sense of real peril, little doubt that everyone will make it off the island alive, and no moment of genuine drama or desperation. The seven kids sitting in my home theater the other night would certainly disagree, mind you. To them, Sean and his friends and family could perish at any moment, snatched out of the air by a bird or buried in rubble as the island began sinking beneath the waves. And that's the joy of watching Journey 2. As a family. With children caught up in the adventure unfolding on screen; bouncing in their seats, peeking through their fingers, and cheering wildly whenever Sean and his companions narrowly survive the impossible.
There was a day and age when Peyton's Mysterious Island would have captured each of our imaginations, sent us scurrying to our playrooms riding invisible bees and exploring ancient cities, and left us dreaming of islands unknown and adventures to be had. So the next time you scoff at a film like Journey 2, try watching it with your little would-be adventurer or adventurers at your side and see just how long it takes you to uncross your arms. See how long it takes you to allow a smile to creep across your face. See how long it takes before you start enjoying yourself. My guess is it won't take long at all.
Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation is a terrific one. There are a handful of noticeable instances of artifacting -- during the opening credits, later as Sean's helicopter nears the water tornado that leads to the mysterious island, and in the night sky as glimpsed through Alexander's tree-house window -- but each one is brief, fleeting and fairly innocuous. Otherwise, no complaints here. Colors are bold and vibrant, with lush lost-island greens, dazzling ocean blues, rich reds and ornate golds, and deep, earthy blacks. Detail is outstanding too. Every pore, hair, scale, leaf, blade of grass and underwater air bubble is crisp and refined, edges are nice and sharp (without a halo to be found), textures are remarkably resolved, shadow delineation is natural and revealing, and closeups and wide shots are both stunning. If Peyton and DP David Tattersall intended it, if the visual effects team created it, it's present and accounted for in all its high definition glory. Better still, the aforementioned artifacting isn't a prevailing issue (by any means), banding and other eyesores are either entirely negligible or altogether absent, and distractions are very few and very far between. Videophiles of all ages will be thrilled with the results.
The Mysterious Island's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is a big ol' burst of boisterous fun well-suited to the Andersons' latest adventure. While some of the film's directional effects are a bit over-the-top and overdone, it's all for effect and quite intentional; hardly the sort of thing that might be cause for any serious alarm. A deafening sea storm, a crashing helicopter, a charging lizard and a belching volcano greet Sean and his friends much like the LFE channel greets its listeners: with thunderous winds, rending metal, a throaty roar and a sternum-thumping eruption. Low-end output is strong and responsive; nimble enough to pass off a pint-sized elephant as a giant and powerful enough to convey the sheer size and scope of the island's more fearsome creatures. Not to be outdone, the rear speakers are given plenty to do and plenty more to embrace. The drone of passing bees, the ocean's surging waves, the rustle of the jungle, the echo of a vast cavern, the song of countless insects, the toppling towers of Atlantis... rear activity is playful enough to keep things light and airy and aggressive enough to create an engaging, animated soundfield. Early scenes (before Sean and Hank reach the island) aren't nearly as enveloping as later scenes, and the Andersons' escape favors volume a bit more than finesse, but I'm nitpicking at this point. Dialogue is crystal clear from start to finish, dynamics are spot on, and pans are as smooth as a summer breeze. Suffice it to say, Journey 2 sounds great no matter how calm or chaotic the action becomes.
Are You Strong Enough to Survive Mysterious Island? (HD, 21 minutes): An interactive map that leads young adventurers on a journey across the Mysterious Island to learn about the film's various creatures, locales, practical and visual effects, and other behind-the-scenes secrets.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 minutes): Uneventful and unfinished, these five scenes offer little and go nowhere.
Gag Reel (HD, 1 minute): Flubs and crackups abound in this mildly amusing outtakes.
While the 3D edition has the slight edge, Journey 2 still offers a fantastical adventure children will adore, a high-quality AVC-encoded video presentation, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, and a small smattering of supplements your offspring will gobble right up. More extras would have been welcome -- a fuller and more robust Explore the Island feature perhaps -- but parents really can't go wrong with this one. Funny, exciting and perfectly family friendly, Peyton's Mysterious Island will leave kids begging to return to its shores again and again.
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In June, Warner Home Entertainment will bring Journey 2: The Mysterious Island to Blu-ray. This sequel to 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth finds teenager Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, The Kids Are All Right) venturing to an uncharted island. Journey ...
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