Monday, June 18, 2012

"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" Review

     While watching this all I could think of was the episode of Community where Abed went insane while making a documentary and Luis Guzman guest starred. That episode was better than this movie. This is Journey 2: The Mysterious Island!

    Journey 2 is a seemingly harmless movie that presents a whole slew of problems for me. For one, I have not seen it's predecessor, Journey to the Center of the Earth, and I have no intention to. Second, I had no intention of even seeing this movie, until a family gathering suddenly forced this film in front of my eyes, with my promise to review ever major release from 2012 I see ringing in the back of my head. And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Journey 2 is that kind of movie that is just so hard to review. It is not very good, yet it isn't offensively bad. It falls flatly in the middle.
    And that makes it hard for me to write a review of a decent length when my entire thoughts could be summed with the words: It's ok. The actors are all actors I really like. Dwayne Johnson plays Hank, stepfather to Sean (Josh Hutcherson, the only real link to the previous movie). Sean has apparently received a transmission from absentee grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine), claiming that he has found the fabled "Mysterious Island" that Jules Verne wrote about. Together, Hank and Sean team up with helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman) and the pilot's daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). They crash land on the island and set off to find Caine.
    The actors are all great in there very simple roles. Johnson is the action guy, Hutcherson is the teenager who means well, Guzman is the annoying comic relief, Hudgens is the love interest and Caine is the eccentric old man. Guzman actually manages to be likable in a role that another actor could have made completely unwatchable. But Caine does the best, gamely hamming it up and clearly just having a great time. It could almost make up for the island itself, which hardly lacks the "mystery" or wonder the title promises.

"I bet I could eat this all in one bite."
(What? Not every joke can be funny)
    This is a movie where the island itself needed to have it's own personality, if it is to be believed that it is the legendary island from works such as Gulliver's Travels and Treasure Island as the movie says it is. And yet, the most spectacular parts of the island are hardly ever explored. A volcano that spouts pure gold? We never get to see it up close. Instead, lame twists and cliched wonders fill the screen. You see, this island is also secretly the lost city of Atlantis, which when the characters discover that this means the island is about to begin sinking, it leads to the race against time third act. Giant animals and weird plants are all around this island, yet none of it seems like it came from someone imagination. It seems more like it came out of a book on how to write children's movies.
    And about that third act. Johnson, since he is the action guy, uses his special skills he learned in some type of military division (I forget which) in order to realize that the island is sinking at the exact right moment. Not too early as to upset the characters exploration of the island, but not too late as to make the movie over an hour and a half long. From then, it's a race to make it to Captain Nemo's Nautilus and get off the island. And of course, the film throws a cavalcade of obstacles in order to make for some more cool 3D scenes (I did watch the 2D version, but it is obvious where there was meant to be heavy 3D).
    And yet, I still somehow found myself smiling throughout the whole thing. I know that if I was eight or nine, I would have loved this movie. And even now, at sixteen years old, I still find myself enjoying the harmlessness of the film, the simplicity of it. It never slows down long enough to become dull and the actors all are fun and have a basic amount of chemistry.

Oh, that doesn't look fake at all.
     And really, isn't that all you need from a movie like this. Well, no, I guess there is more. A more mysterious island maybe? A more funny script? But still, there is fun to be had here, even if it is only a small amounts. This is a movie for kids and kids will certainly love it. But, for those one taking the kids to see it, it could have been a whole lot worse. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island gets 3 stars out of 6.

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