I don’t think it would surprise anyone that Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a nonsensical experience. First, there’s the name. Do you get it? This is a sequel, but also, they’re travelling to a mysterious island. A sequel to Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, calling it just The Mysterious Island would have been a great step in the right direction, or at least Journey To…, but in all honesty, that’s the last of it’s problems.
After accessing a segment of a recorded broadcast, Sean Anderson (Hutcherson) breaks into a satellite research centre to borrow their technology to hear the rest, only the schoolkid unsurprisingly catches the interest of the police. Were this Journey 1 and Sean would be in trouble as his volcanologist uncle probably doesn’t hold any favours with the law. Lucky therefore this is a film with an entirely different cast. Dwayne Johnson now plays the father role, married to Sean’s re-cast mother, Liz (Davis).
A cop himself, Hank gets the troublemaker off the hook, only with a full recording now in his possession, and a series of clues that lead to a mysterious island, deep in the Pacific Ocean. Bankrolling a trip half way across the world in an attempt to bond with him stepson, against all odds, Hank, Sean and their tour guide and daughter actually make it to the island, but with animals, insects and secrets beyond their wildest dreams, a 10 ft butterfly is just the start of one incredible getaway adventure.
For this sort of silly, family fantasy to work, it’s key the filmmakers get you in the mood from the off. In Journey 2, it felt like none of them wanted to be there. Though Josh Hutcherson is fairly solid, and Michael Caine is full of energy as Sean’s castaway grandfather, from Johnson to Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis and an underused Luis Guzmán, most of the talent look embarrassed to be on screen. They turn in laborious, awkward performances when electric actors might have been the only thing to kickstart this languid effort.
If they were thrown into a real jungle environment it might have helped, but despite very briefly shooting in Hawaii, the sequences in the island wild are all in a studio. The use of sets and CGI are painfully obvious, and while lifelike attention to details certainly wasn’t to be expected, something better than what is lazily dumped around the cast should have been a necessity.
The plot and script leaves a lot to be desired, but that isn’t what attentive young eyes will come to see. Journey 2 lacks thrill and excitement, and doesn’t accomplish even the most basic of desires from a film such as this: to be fun. There are moments when you won’t be utterly bored, but if that’s all you look for in a film, you need to broaden you horizons, or those of your kids.