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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Journey 2 – The Mysterious Island | Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgeons, Luis Guzman | Review

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Journey 2 – The Mysterious Island

In this 3D sequel to 2008's fantasy adventure (also in 3D) Journey to the Center of the Earth, Josh Hutcherson reprises his role as young scientific adventurer, Sean Anderson, who has now grown into a 17 year old teenager. This time around, his heroic uncle (played by Brendan Fraser in the previous movie) is no longer in the picture. Instead Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson is on board as Sean's stepdad Hank, whose experience as an ex-Navy man sure comes in handy.

After Sean receives a radio message sent from his long lost grandfather, explorer Alexander (the always great Michael Caine, with a wink to Indiana Jones) Hanks steps in to help crack the code that leads to maps found in three classic novels, Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island", Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island. When pieced together they reveal the secret location of Jules Verne's fabled island.

The headstrong Sean is eager to head out on his mission alone, but the muscle bound Hank, looking to bond with his stepson, insists on accompanying him on his search for the mysterious island that is somewhere in the South Pacific. Upon arriving at their initial destination in Palau, Sean and Hank encounter a kooky helicopter pilot named Gabato (a goofy Luis Guzman, providing comic relief), and his attractive daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgeons, as Sean's potential love interest) who, for the right price, offer to fly them wherever they want, not realizing what they are getting themselves into.

Not too long after take off, the aircraft is drawn into the eye of a hurricane, spins out of control and crash lands on the island. Of course, they all survive with not even a scratch, only to be in awe of what appears to be a tropical paradise inhabited by colorful creatures big and small like nothing they have ever seen before. What are big in the real world are small and vice versa. Elephants are the size of a dog, while butterflies, bees, birds, lizards and so forth are gigantic, leading to dangerous life threatening situations and obstacles for the group.

The foursome eventually find Alexander (Caine) and together they embark on a race against time to flee the island, which they discover is the lost city of Atlantis and, once again, is about to sink into the ocean.

The cast looks like they had a great time making this film. It had to be a fun job, playing opposite make-believe computer generated characters such as pretending you are flying through the air on the back of an enormous bumble bee or trying to elude a lizard the size of a dinosaur. The visually striking, action sequences are thrilling to watch.

Johnson (aka, “The Rock”) with his charismatic charm, million dollar smile, and strong, hunky presence, is well suited in his role, fitting comfortably as the heroic father figure. In a comical diversion, he even gets a chance to twitch his pecs and give some fatherly advice to Sean about how to attract the opposite sex. I couldn't help but laugh at Guzman's wacky character, not just because he plays the fool. I thought it funny that although he is supposed to be Polynesian, Guzman doesn't make an attempt to hide his strong, Puerto Rican/New York accent. Hudgeons, on the other hand is pretty, but wooden as a stick.

Adult audiences will have to leave their thinking cap at home and just go along with the flow if they want to enjoy this far fetched fantasy adventure targeted to younger demographics. Often preposterous with contrived situations, silly dialogue, etc, the key word is fantasy and I must admit, I was entertained. All things considered, Journey 2 - The Mysterious Island is an energetic fun ride. By the reaction of the kids as well as the grownups at the preview screening I attended, it delivered the goods.

In the end there is a clever hint at a sequel in the works. The next journey - the moon.

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