Directed by Brad Peyton and starring Dwayne Johnson (AKA The Rock), Vanessa Hudgens and Michael Caine, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) is a high octane, stereoscopic 3D adaptation of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island – which despite giving little consideration towards its literary source, is undeniably an exhilarating family friendly, action adventure that’ll no doubt thrill younger audiences.
On receiving a coded distress signal, 17 year old honour student and part time rebel Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta in the upcoming The Hunger Games) jumps to the rather hopeful conclusion that it must be his lost grandfather (Caine) reporting the ware bouts of Jules Verne’s infamous ‘Mysterious Island’. Needless to say, Sean’s youthful exuberance and optimism isn’t as misguided as we’d rationally assume and with the help of Hank (Johnson), his all-muscle legal guardian (the term ‘stepfather’ is rescinded due to them not enjoying the closest of paternal relationships – the first of many laboured signs that this’ll be a film about the importance of family), the pair decipher the code and use its hidden nautical co-ordinates to find the illusive Mysterious Island.
However, a quest as carelessly organised and implausible as this couldn’t possibly go without any flaws – with Sean, Hank and their two tour guides, Gabato (Luis Guzman) and Kailani (Hudgens) thrust into an unimaginably world that’s as equally outlandish and magical as it is dangerous.
Journey 2 is a family film which doesn’t pander to the notion that young audiences are stupid or slow. It certainly doesn’t feel the need to explain its characters motives and rash decision making either, instead it decides to ignore the whole concept of narrative structure and give its audience what it wants – namely an abundance of spectacular effects, adrenaline fuelled action scenes and a few cheesy jokes to fill in the gaps of the story.
Peyton’s Journey 2 is the cinematic equivalent of feeding a child a whole bag of raw sugar and leaving it alone in a china shop, yet for all its crass attempts to swindle the audience with superfluous special effects and chase scenes, it strangely works, blinding us from the atrociously mundane script and desperately thin character development just long enough to lose ourselves in the action.
Despite its numerous cringe inducing moments of horrendous acting, its abundance of needlessly excessive set pieces intended to exploit the 3D element and its unbearably inane jokes (the pinnacle being The Rock’s pec-popping scene which incorporates all three of these irritating facets ) Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a film perfectly tailored to younger audience. Thanks to a wealth of thrilling action sequences and suspense, children will no doubt remain entertained throughout – yet sadly it may test older audiences patience and ultimately their sanity.