Journey 2: The Mysterious Island * * *

Genre: Action

Director: Brad Peyton

Writers: Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, based on the novel The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman, Michael Caine, Kristin Davis

Running Length: 94 minutes

Synopsis: The new journey begins when Sean receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist—a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes, and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean’s new stepfather joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter, they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant and escape before seismic shockwaves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever.

Review: We all know that a movie like Journey 2 isn’t going to win any major awards for direction, acting and scripting, but this doesn’t mean the film can’t be a rather enjoyable romp given the right set of expectations. It is what it is – Journey 2 is a family film targeted at entertaining the younger audience, and this it does remarkably well. When viewed in immersive IMAX 3D, the entire film actually resembles an extended theme park ride, complete with requisite chase sequences, big monsters, and the eventual escape from the island in an unconventional vehicle. Of course, everything is coated in a thick, thick coat of cheese. Kids are definitely going to enjoy the film, and the older viewers will find enough to entertain despite some uneven patches. 

It’s almost a given in any film nowadays to feature CGI work, and Journey 2 has some pretty top-notch special effects going for it. Although the audience will be aware that the majority of the film is green screen work, at least the CGI is well-integrated and does not distract. Action sequences are well done too, and there’s even good attention to detail, as evidenced by the meticulous design of the Nautilus that features in the latter part of the film.

One of the most memorable sequences is the “pec pop of love”, executed to brilliant, hilarious effect by Dwayne Johnson, and is certain to become a cult classic. Dwayne Johnson is truly the star of the show, energetically working his eyebrows to great effect, and unabashedly ladling on the cheesiness. The rest of the cast doesn’t fare so well, with Josh Hutcherson particularly being the weakest link despite being the other central character. Luis Guzman and Michael Caine both seem to be dialing it in, and it’s clear that none of their thespian skills were needed in a movie like this one.

So yes, Journey 2 is entirely over the top, and the film demands a total suspension of disbelief and a willingness to accept the film at face level. But as far as fluffy cinematic entertainment goes, it does its job pretty well. If you’re looking for a film to bring the entire family along over the festive season, Journey 2 would definitely be a safe bet.     

Rating: *** (out of four stars)