Without a doubt, Jules Verne is hailed as the “Father of Science Fiction” to this day, bringing us such memorable adventure stories as Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in Eighty Days. His tales were ahead of their time; in fact, his stories that involve submarines, air and space travel, were fascinating before such inventions were made! But would he have ever believed that Hollywood would be able to twist, alter, and butcher his stories in over a century?
Such is the example of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth. From the director of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, Brad Peyton creates a loose adaptation of The Mysterious Island, with Josh Hutcherson returning as Sean, but Brendan Fraser strangely missing from the story this time. Instead, Sean has his stepfather Hank, (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) to look after him.
When Sean steals a mysterious code broadcast from a satellite research center, he and Hank eventually discover – with a little help from fantasy books, like Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island, and The Mysterious Island – that an uncharted island is waiting to be discovered. Because he believes his long lost grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine) sent the message and is on the very island, Sean goes with Hank to find him.
However, they won’t be able to go on this dangerous mission alone, so they seek the aid of a private helicopter tour pilot named Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgins) to transport them from Palau, Hawaii. As they fly across the ocean, a waterspout destroys the chopper, yet safely brings them to the island. They all discover the vast wonders of this enchanted isle; such as tiny elephants, giant iguanas, and volcanoes that erupts molten gold, to name a few.
When they find Alexander, he shows the group that the Mysterious Island is actually the lost city of Atlantis, which rose from the bottom of the ocean. Just when they become awestruck with the discovery, Hank observes that, due to the presence of saltwater puddles and tectonic rifts, Atlantis is doomed to sink again. With no time to lose, they start searching for Captain Nemo’s submarine, for it is their only means of escape.
This film gives you the chance to embark on a forgettable adventure with a dull, predictable plot, corny jokes and dialogue, and a love interest subplot that feels tacked on. Although the 3D effects and CGI are mesmerizing, they are not enough to ignore the mediocre acting, with the exception being Michael Caine, and a story that feels like a parody to other adventure stories. Despite these flaws, it does have its moments: What other movie has Dwayne singing “What a Wonderful World” while playing the ukulele?
Worst of all, it leaves on a cliffhanger to what could be a third film based on From the Earth to the Moon! As a good friend of mine once said, Jules Verne himself will have turned over in his grave so many times his corpse will be dizzy. Journey 2 is not very good, but it has some appeal, and you’ll have fun watching it, briefly.
The movie starts with Daffy’s Rhapsody, an amazing and wacky 3D short featuring the late, great Mel Blanc as Daffy Duck.