‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


HollywoodandFine.com

Talk about mysterious islands – the one in “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” features an ensemble that includes Michael Caine, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – and Luis Guzman. That’s some bizarre casting.

Oh yeah, and heartthrobs Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens: You can’t overlook the reason this film’s core audience will be turning up. How many 10-year-olds even know who Michael Caine is?

But then, how many 10-year-olds (and make no mistake: That’s the target demo here) have any clue who Jules Verne is? His name is tossed around as casually as if he were J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins. They even use the term “Verneians” to describe his true believers, as though they were Gleeks or “Star Wars” fanboys.

“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” ostensibly is a sequel to 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” though its relation to that film is minimal. It features Hutcherson as the only returning cast member; it’s based on a Jules Verne novel (oh so loosely); and it’s in 3D (and not the fakey 3D conversion of “Journey 1”).

Hutcherson is Sean, first seen riding a motorcycle and being pursued by the police. When they catch him, they release him into the custody of his stepfather, Hank (Johnson), telling him that Sean was caught climbing a satellite tower. An ex-Navy man, Hank wants to be friends with his stepson, who’s having none of it.

But Sean, in fact, needs Hank and his Navy training, to translate a coded message Sean picked up. Sean is convinced that the message is from his adventurer-explorer grandfather, Alexander (Caine) – and that Alexander is sending him the location of Verne’s “Mysterious Island.” For good measure, the message seems to indicate that it’s the same island referenced in both Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.”

The island, they decide, is in the Pacific, somewhere near Palau – so they travel there and charter a rickety helicopter run by a sketchy pilot named Gabato (Guzman) and his hottie daughter Kailani (Hudgens). The four of them set off for the coordinates Sean and Hank have figured out – which turns out to be a spot no other charter captain will take them because it’s the Bermuda Triangle of the Pacific.

This review continues on my website.