In 2008’s ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’, the Anderson family comes from a long line of adventurers. Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is taken to stay with his uncle Trevor (Brendan Fraser) and the two of them discover that Sean’s missing father might have gone to look for the center of the earth as described in Jules Verne’s novel. The Anderson family are Vernians, a group of people who take the writings of Jules Verne to be factual, not fiction.
‘Journey 2’ finds Sean living with his mother (Kristin Davis) and new stepdad Hank (Dwayne Johnson), and Sean is discovering a message sent by his missing grandfather from an island in near Palau. With Hank’s help, he deciphers the message and finds a map left in three famous books: ‘Treasure Island’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ by Jonathan Swift, and ‘The Mysterious Island’ by Jules Verne. The three islands talked about in these books are in fact the same island, and Sean and Hank set out to find it.
Once in Palau, Sean and Hank find a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) who, for the right amount of money, will take them to the island. Verne’s ‘The Mysterious Island’ describes the only way to get to the island is through tornados, typhoons, and hurricanes, and the helicopter crash lands on the island. According to Verne’s book and Swift’s book, everything on the island that should be big is small, and everything that is small is big; elephants are the size of dogs and insects and lizards are of dinosaur proportions.
They find Sean’s grandfather (Michael Caine), who informs them that the island is also Atlantis, and due to shifting tectonic plates, it rises and sinks into the ocean every 140 years. The island is sinking again, and they must find Captain Nemo’s submarine The Nautilus in order to get off the island and return home.
Good family adventure movies are hard to come by, and even though ‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’ feels more like a theme park attraction than a movie, this is still a great time. The 3D effects are extremely fun, from the animals jumping out of the screen to the berries being popped off The Rock’s flexing pectorals.
Dwayne Johnson is perfect as a replacement for Brendan Fraser; both actors are experts at the family action/adventure genre. Some may scoff at The Rock’s choice to opt for family friendly fare as it’s such a departure from his WWE character, but he has such great comic timing. His looks don’t really hurt him either. In my screening audience, every mom in the theater whooped and hollered when he first appeared onscreen.
Hutcherson has proven to be a strong child actor from movies such as ‘Zathura’ and ‘Bridge to Terabithia’, and he has become a hot commodity in his adult career as well from ‘The Kids are All Right’ to the much anticipated ‘The Hunger Games’. Hudgens is still only really known for her prominent role in Disney’s ‘High School Musical’, and she really isn’t given much to work with here other than flaunting her body in short shorts and a belly-baring t-shirt. As her father in the movie, Guzman is the most difficult to tolerate. His performance is supposed to be comedic, but he’s not funny in the slightest. Even my children were confused what he was doing there.
‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’ is such a fun and enjoyable ride. With fun special effects, beautiful locations, and a crowd-pleasing cast, this one is worth the money to take the whole family. What kid of any age doesn’t love an adventure?
Before the feature film, Warner Bros plays a new computer animated short film starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. Daffy is starring in a stage show about his life and Elmer starts out the show in the audience, but ends the show on stage trying to hunt down Daffy. It’s set to a wacky song, very reminiscent of old WB cartoons. It was a nice surprise!