“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,” the sequel to 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” stars Josh Hutchinson as Sean Anderson, a troubled teen that believes the works of Jules Verne are based on fact.
After receiving a partial message he suspects is from his missing grandfather, Sean breaks into a satellite receiving station to get the complete message. Through his step-father, Hank (Dwayne Johnson) Sean avoids detention for the break-in and the subsequent police chase.
Hank also helps Sean decode the message and tries to win the teen’s trust and acceptance by accompanying him on a trip to Palau to search for the Mysterious Island.
In Palau, the two attempt to charter a boat to explore the coordinates where the island should be and end up in a helicopter instead, accompanied by the pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). As they approach the coordinates, the helicopter encounters a stationary hurricane and the four end up stranded on the shoreline of the island. Finding a way inland, they encounter the strange forest of the Mysterious Island and set about trying to find Sean’s grandfather so they can use his radio to call for help.
When they do encounter Alexander (Michael Caine), he has already explored much of the island, and introduces the group to several of its sights. It is while they are exploring the remains of Atlantis that Hank notices evidence that the island is sinking and they must find a way off before it drops below the ocean.
The cast does a fair job of fulfilling the roles they are forced into. The interactions between Alexander and Hank are probably the least believable and unnatural. Probably the weakest performance comes from Hudgens as she drifts from overacting to hardly acting at all.
As a family movie, “Journey 2” delivers enough action, a bit of comedy, and an easy-to-follow plot. A few of the scenes are a bit scary for younger kids, but not enough to dissuade me from letting my kids see them. The fanciful nature of the encounters the group experiences serve to keep the plot securely in the realm of fiction, rather than creeping closer to the plausible, making it easier to explain to the kids.
In “Journey 2,” there is an eerie similarity to “Chipwrecked” that made me expect to see athropomorphic chipmunks pop out of the forest at any time. Happily, the inclusion of a few literary references and a more visually pleasing presentation, adds a bit of depth to “Journey 2” that “Chipwrecked” lacked. That is not to say that “The Mysterious Island” is much of a mystery. The plot is fairly predictable and the attempts at suspense are half-hearted, but at least I stayed interested as the plot sprinted for its inevitable conclusion.
“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” serves as an entertaining and for the most part family-friendly film. It is visually appealing, and fast paced, if a bit weak on plot and character.