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Movie Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

February 10, 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – A Warner Bros. Release

Release Date: February 10th, 2012

Rated PG for some scary scenes

Running time: 96 minutes

Brad Peyton (dir.)

Brian Gunn (screenplay & story)

Mark Gunn (screenplay & story)

Richard Outten (story)

Loosely based on the novel by Jules Verne

Andrew Lockington (music)

Dwayne Johnson as Hank

Michael Caine as Alexander

Josh Hutcherson as Sean

Luis Guzmán as Gabato

Vanessa Hudgens as Kailani

Kristin Davis as Liz

Stephen Caudill as Cop

Branscombe Richmond as Tour Guide

©Warner Bros. Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Gabato (Luiz Guzmán), Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), Sean (Josh Hutcherson), Hank (Dwayne Johnson) and Alexander (Michael Caine) in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Our reviews below:


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Review By John C.

** (out of 4)

The very definition of a kid’s birthday party movie would have to be Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.  It’s got a colour palette as bright as candy, an adventure taking place on a tropical island and 3D visuals that quite literally make everything pop off the screen.  Almost four years ago, Journey to the Centre of the Earth was an often cheesy but mildly entertaining adventure that used 3D to throw and spit numerous things into the audience.  This sequel manages to be both less and slightly more of the same, with a more forgettable story and characters, complimented by marginally better special effects.

Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is now living with his step-father, Hank (Dwayne Johnson).  After intercepting a radio signal coming from an island off the coast of Hawaii, the two hitch a ride with helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), to track down the mysterious island that Jules Verne wrote about.  The troupe finds themselves stranded, having to battle giant lizards and ride humongous bumblebees in order to save Sean’s long lost grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine).  The problem is that the only way off the secluded paradise is to find Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, before things end up all 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

The attempts at humour are actually quite lame and even annoying, sure to garner giggles from the kids and cringes from adults.  Talented actors like Josh Hutcherson, Michael Caine and Luis Guzmán would have deserved a better script that provided them with smarter characters.  Just like everything else about Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the 3D here is also primarily for the kids in the audience.  Sure we get a spear effectively thrown right towards our eyes, but we also have Dawyne Johnson popping numerous bright red berries off of his thumping chest muscles, demonstrating how to attract the attention of a girl.  I can’t believe that I actually had to say that in a review.

I’ve always been a fan of Jules Verne’s stories, but this movie lacks the fundamental something that is found in his writing simply because the film isn’t that well written.  Kids of a certain age will enjoy the candy-coloured visuals and adventurous spirit of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, but there isn’t enough in the way of story or character development to make it truly engaging for adults.  Here’s hoping this is the first and last movie that requires Dwayne Johnson to pop a berry off his chest muscles in 3D…


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Review by Erin V.  

** (out of 4)

In 2008, Warner Bros. released the film Journey to the Centre of the Earth, starring Brendan Fraser, Anita Briem and Josh Hutcherson.  The film, while quite cheesy and clearly for kids, admittedly entertains for what it is, although the 3D (one of the first live-action RealD films) was overly gimmicky.

Neither Fraser nor Briem are present here, and while the latter could be expected, it is the missing presence of Fraser – a very main character – that is not explained even with a single line…  The only tie to the first film really is Hutcherson, who’s character Sean is now 17.  When Sean gets a encrypted message from his missing grandfather (Michael Caine), he insists upon going to the coordinates it leads him to, where he believes the ‘Mysterious Island’ from Jules Verne’s stories is.  Despite his not wanting him to, Sean’s stepfather Hank (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) flies out to the nearest point to the coordinates with him (Laos), where they meet up with a helicopter pilot, Gabato (Luis Guzmán), to fly them out to the middle of the Pacific where the locals say no island actually exists.  Of course conveniently for Sean, Gabato has a 17 year old daughter named Kailani, who’s played by Vanessa Hudgens.

The special effects are earlier 2000’s looking – like the first film – although they are fun to look at at times and bright enough to handle the 3D.  Which brings me to the next point.  I could forgive the gimmicky 3D in 2008 when the use of the RealD format in films (particularly live-action ones) was still relatively new – now, we should have gone past the throwing things at the screen stage and apply it for depth and storytelling instead.  Still, kids will enjoy the gimmicks and the studio will enjoy the surcharge.  Parents on the other hand may be annoyed with both of them.

In terms of the other technicals, the score by Andrew Lockington is actually good, and the actors are all as good as they can be here so I didn’t mind watching them, (except for Guzmán’s character who really annoyed me).  The story is what you’d expect from the trailers, although I found the decision to draw off of and incorporate three classic books (instead of just one like the first film did), to jumble things a little more than needed.  Oh, and one more thing – butchering It’s a Wonderful World was pretty needless here…

The 6-12 age group are the complete target market for this film and they will probably love it.  There is enough action and humour (often humour of the annoy the adult/amuse the kids variety) to keep them entertained, and in terms of a film for young families to go to, this is exactly what you’ll want.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Review by Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Have you ever imagined a place where elephants are small, and bees are big enough to ride on?  Journey 2: Mysterious Island is a fun kids fantasy loosely inspired by the works of Jules Verne, Jonathon Swift and Robert Lewis Stevenson.  Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is now about 17, and is a bit of a troublemaker.  But things get better when Sean’s stepdad Hank (Dwayne Johnson) takes him on an adventure to Mysterious Island in the South Pacific, with the help of Polynesian tour guide Gabato (Luiz Guzmán) and his pretty daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hugdsons).  On Mysterious Island, Sean meets his grandfather Alexander Anderson (Michael Caine), and they embark on a fun adventure.

Journey 2: Mysterious Island is great for the 6-12 crowd.  It may even get some kids reading adventure books or going out on their own adventures.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Opening with a wild motorcycle chase that ends in a backyard swimming pool it’s obvious young Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is an adventure-seeker.  Good thing Sean has step-dad Hank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to smooth things over and keep him out of juvenile detention.  It turns out that Sean isn’t a bad kid, just an over-enthusiastic “Vernian” who was trying to access and interpret a cryptic satellite signal about a mysterious island.  The signal turns out to be a call for help from fellow-adventurer, Grandpa Alex Anderson (Michael Caine) who wants to share his discovery of Jules Verne’s mysterious island with grandson Sean.  After figuring out the island’s co-ordinates using clues from classic children’s books Treasure Island, Gulliver’s Travels and of course Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island, Sean and Hank head off for some adventure and guy-bonding time.

Sean and Hank’s adventure begins when they arrive somewhere in the South Pacific and hire helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his beat-up Gabato tours helicopter.  Fortunately for Sean, Gabato’s pretty teenage daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) is along for the ride.  When the four finally arrive on the island the scenery is gorgeous and seems like paradise.  However things aren’t as they seem.  Elephants are tiny and adorable, butterflies are giant and bumblebees are made for riding on.  They encounter lots of giant lizards and other scary creatures.  The scariest thing about the island is the tectonic activity that will have the island under water within days.  Luckily Grandpa Alex knows the place like the back of his hand and comes to their rescue.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is bright, colourful and lots of fun if you happen to be somewhere between 6 and 12 years old.  This is a family-friendly film.  The special-effects are reasonably good, the acting is decent, (though the Gabato character got on my nerves) and there’s a good balance of comic-relief and exciting adventure to fill the 94 minutes running time without having younger ones get bored.  All-in-all, Journey 2 makes for a fun family outing but will be just as much fun on Blu-ray/DVD.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Review by Tony

** (out of 4)

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008). Josh Hutcherson returns as Sean, a “Vernian” who gets a radio message from his lost grandfather Alex (Michael Caine). His mother’s new partner Hank (Dwayne Johnson) bonds with Sean by helping decode the message and join him on a rescue mission to a South Pacific island. Since the island’s location is feared as a stormy site of lost ships, the only transport they can find is from a broken-down helicopter piloted by the dumb guide Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). After crashing on the beach, they discover Alex inhabiting a lost world of dog-sized elephants, dinosaur-scale lizards and bees as big and  easy to ride as ponies. As the island is about to sink, they have to locate the Nautilus submarine described in Verne’s book to make their escape.

J2: TMI is fun to watch, particularly in 3D, with some nice action and special effects packed into a reasonable 94 minute running time. Both Journey films of course are full of scientific inaccuracies, but the first was more watchable for a mature audience with only three well-played main characters. Unfortunately, J2 is more dumbed down with a script that is hard to take for anyone with an age of two digits. Josh Hutcherson is still good and Vanessa Hudgens is ok. Dwayne Johnson never has a chance, looking smart only beside Luis Guzmán’s character, who is painfully silly, while Michael Caine’s cheerful eccentric is just embarrassing.

Parents can safely leave their kids to see J2: TMI at the multiplex while they go off to something better, or wait for the disc that would make a good home or car movie for parties and long trips.


Consensus: Although there isn’t enough in terms of story to make the sequel Journey 2: The Mysterious Island overly engaging for adults, kids are sure to love the brightly coloured 3D visuals of this light adventure film.  **1/4 (Out of 4)

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