Review: 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' is squeaky clean, scare free
Cast and crew err on the side of silly in "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island," the amusingly childish sequel to that unlikely 2008 hit "Journey to the Center of the Earth." They've rendered Jules Verne's novel into a jokey lark, with broad, corny wisecracks, comic sidekicks and everybody riffing on the ginormous lizards, humongous spiders and the like.
For those who have forgotten the conceit, the idea here is that while "most consider" the stories of 19th-century novelist Jules Verne "works of science fiction, Vernians know otherwise."
Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) certainly does. He lost his dad on an epic "Journey to the Center of the Earth." Now, years later, living with mom (Kristin Davis) and an over-compensating stepdad, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), the rebellious teen gets a coded radio message from his grandpa. Since contractor Hank used to be a Navy code breaker, they quickly realize the message is "The island is real." That would be Verne's "Mysterious Island."
And they know where it is. That sets the stage for a stepfather / son bonding trip to the South Pacific, where they hire a low-rent chopper pilot (Luis Guzman, funny) and his daughter, given a teen va-va-voom turn by Vanessa Hudgens, to take them there.
They find the place, all right. Along with grandpa, played by Michael Caine in "Indiana Caine" mode -- a grizzled joker stranded in the jungle.
The script makes gramps and Hank comic foils, with lots of "my large friend" vs. "old man / old ladies" cracks. (As in, "Be careful. Medicare doesn't cover old ladies falling off gigantic bees.") Because yes, there are gigantic bees, and poodle-sized elephants, a boiling volcano, but not -- one must say -- much menace. We never fear for anybody, and the action scenes are little more than 3-D showcases ripped off from the "Star Wars" movies. Director Brad Peyton plays around with slow-motion, which is what passes for style here.
It's not Vernian or groundbreaking or smart or even that clever. This "Journey" is an action comedy for pre-teens, squeaky clean and scare-free. There's not much here for grownups. But Johnson, the actor formerly known as wrestler "The Rock," makes a perfectly appropriate, perfectly adorable (he plays with his pecs, and even sings a ukulele ditty) babysitter.
The most brilliant thing you'll see in "Journey 2" is the new computer-animated Looney Tunes romp attached to the beginning. "Daffy's Rhapsody" uses an old record the late Mel Blanc made as Daffy Duck back in the 1950s -- Daffy singing about why he's so "gosh-darned riff-raffy" to the tune of Franz Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody .2" on stage as Elmer Fudd blazes away at him. It's a hoot, because the little black duck was made for 3-D.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Clues to Chief Justice John Roberts’ thinking on new ObamaCare case
- Pirates enter Plan B with Martin off market
- For Steelers, a fight to finish for playoff berth
- Starkey: No explaining Steelers, AFC North
- Islanders outwork Penguins to sweep back-to-back meetings
- For Pitt men’s basketball team, trouble in paradise
- Leak of grand jury information could cost Attorney General Kane
- Pitt beats Syracuse, snaps 3-game losing streak
- Allegheny County adoption event joins 40 children with families
- Shooting victims live with bullets to survive, thrive
- Mears savors success, credits legendary Lange for guidance, inspiration