By Joe Walsh
Following on from the story of Journey to The Centre of the Earth, young explorer Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) continues his adventures in Journey 2: Mysterious Island. This time we are minus Brendan Fraser who is replaced by Dwayne Johnson – better known by his wrestling name The Rock – playing Hank Parsons, Sean’s stepfather. Also along for the ride are Michael Caine as Anderson’s Grandfather and Vanessa Hudgens as love interest Kailani.
Drawing on multiple stories of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson we find our heroes drawn to Mysterious Island (a lost land that is a mash-up of Atlantis, Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels all in one) to find Anderson’s missing grandfather. Within fifteen minutes of the film’s start the heroes have landed on the island where they encounter everything from miniature elephants to giant centipedes and a volcano frothing with liquid gold. Not long after exploring the exotic sights of the island they discover it is sinking beneath the sea and must escape before their time runs out.
There are multiple problems with this film, most notably the shameless usage of 3D with Johnson’s pectoral-popping mating call used to bounce berries ‘into’ the audience and exotic beasts swooping out to make us jump. The flagrant use of 3D in this way is often criticised but is also a factor of such films that young audiences enjoy the most, so perhaps it can be forgiven. This however is not the case for the use of slow motion; a trend that is all too frequently littering the screens these days. Generally the special effects are enjoyable, including the carbon copy of the Return of the Jedi chase sequence featuring the heroes mounted on the backs of giant bees.
As well as Johnson’s pectoral-popping effort there are further cringeworthy moments, including a scene where he plays ‘What a Wonderful World’ on the ukulele stating, “it takes a big man to play a small guitar”. Luis Guzmán’s performance is also an area of concern, with its multiple clichés made all the worse by his man-crush on Johnson. The younger members of the cast play their parts well, bringing all that they can to the cardboard characters which occupy such Hollywood fare.
Despite all these problems the film is enjoyable when treated for what it is – a special effects packed, adventure yarn for children. A well enough made family-friendly adventure film that keeps a good pace and is perfect for entertaining the kids on a Sunday afternoon.