As a rule of thumb, I tend to avoid films that use numbers as a substitute for letters and/or words. Titles like 2 Fast 2 Furious, Thir13en Ghosts and Scre4m just stick in my craw. The only exception to this principle being Se7en which doesn’t count because a) it’s an awesome film and b) the 7 is so ludicrously far away from looking like a“v”, I can sort of forgive it. So now we have Journey 2: The Mysterious Island- the title styled in such a way that emphasis is put on the “2” with the consequence being that the name,when spoken aloud, results in a decidedly Shatner-esque pronunciation. This is the successor to 2008’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and stars the ridiculously muscled Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, current teenage knicker tingle Josh Hutcherson and the venerable Michael Caine.
The film tells the story of Shaun (Josh Hutcherson) who has received a mysterious message about an equally mysterious island. After some clue-solving with his hulking stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson) the pair travel to Palau where they meet madcap pilot Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). As a story, it isn’t bad. It’s a decent enough romp through an island filled with fantastical creatures and magical places. The acting’s fine, with the surprise of the film being how decent the pairing of The Rock and Michael Caine turns out to be and how well they play off each other. Luis Guzmán’s Gaby started to grate after a while, his role to whine, complain, get scared of things and be a “loveable” oaf for the kids to laugh at.
Journey 2 is pretty much the Nick Jr. version of Avatar. We have a lush jungle, elephants the size of Jack Russells, ants the size of buses and bees big enough to accommodate two human passengers. It’s a colourful CGI fest that for the most part succeeds. The action scenes pop along nicely and there are some decent, quieter puzzle-solving moments too (although there doesn’t seem to be anything The Rock’s character isn’t an expert in.)
What isn’t as much fun is the dialogue which clunks and groans from one tiresome exchange to the next. The writing is purely perfunctory and any attempt at humour is pretty much lost in the effort it took to get to the punchline. Having said that, I must admit watching The Rock sing “What a Wonderful World” and play the ukulele is arguably worthy of the price of the disc alone. There aren’t many surprises to be found here, with some plot points signposted so clearly earlier on it almost makes watching the rest of the film pointless. Yes, I get that it’s a family film, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be completely devoid of any intrigue or indeed, decent jokes.
Still though, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island isn’t bad. It’s a fairly fun 90 minutes that boasts some colourful effects and singing wrestlers. It’s better than its predecessor and promises an genuinely interesting sequel.
UK DVD/BD Release Date:28 May 2012
Cast:Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzmán
Buy Jounrey 2 On: Triple Play (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy) / DVD