Journey 2 is a big adventure for the little ones...and that's really all that matters here. Coming off as the year's first big family-adventure, Journey 2 has a lot to impress and luckily, it succeeds with entertainment. Personally, this was one of the first films of the new year that I was expecting to turn out as complete, unbearable garbage; to my surprise, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is actually one of the best family-adventure films I've seen in a while. Fans of the first film will have a blast with this color-schemed sequel, and may also even find this one a bigger and better achievement!
Brendan Fraser was the perfect leading man in the first film. He's got a perfect balance of comedic skills and seriousness to him that is a needed blend in an adventure film. We've seen him play the character in all three Mummy films and do an even better job in Journey to the Center of the Earth. Now that the man has gone in the dark and hasn't been anywhere for the past few years, why would he turn down a chance to be in this? Certainly, hiring Dwayne Johnson to play a new character wasn't the plan in 2008 when the film wrapped-up with the hint of a sequel. While I would of liked to see Fraser reprise his role, I'm more surprised by the outcome of him not being here than I expected.
Josh Hutcherson, I hate to say it, isn't all that great of an actor. To give him some credit, he is still young and he's getting better by the film. I expect him to exceed well next month in The Hunger Games, which will probably mark his most important role yet. When I had learned that Fraser would not be returning for this sequel, doubt spiraled my mind wondering how Hutcherson would do leading this sequel as the only returning character from the first film. Could he lead the film without Fraser? Only time could tell.
When word of mouth claimed that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson would be filling in Fraser's shoes as the lead, it was almost impossible not to laugh it off. Its so typical and cliché to add an action-buff like The Rock to fill-in for a film like this, only because of how it'll attract so many different viewers. For the past couple of years we've seen Johnson aiming toward the family-adventure genre, and I think from his performance in Race to Witch Mountain was the overall viewpoint on if he should or should not be hired for this film.
Surprisingly, Dwayne Johnson surpasses my expectations of him in this film and actually does a great job keeping the high-octane energy alive here. If I had to choose between Johnson and Fraser, I'd have to honestly go with Dwayne Johnson. The great thing about Fraser was that he had the adventurer character down perfectly; as for Johnson, he pretty much just has the action down, but that only called for a better level of excitement and entertainment. He may not have been as funny as Fraser in the first film, but the Rock certainly held this film up more so than I was expecting.
If it wasn't for the chemistry between Michael Caine and Dwayne Johnson, I would question the fact of the matter to why Caine would want to ever star in a film like this. No offense to the other actors or the film itself, but a movie like Journey 2 just isn't fit for Caine. Without the hilarious chemistry between Caine and Johnson's characters, the talents of Caine would have been completely wasted on this. One can understand why Hutcherson, Hudgens, and even Johnson would star in this kind of film, mostly to keep their names and faces out there on the fame-list, but Caine certainly wasn't needed for this film where almost any other actor could of performed his character. I'm not saying that Caine doesn't belong here where I am glad he's reaching out to the family genre and trying new things, but he doesn't have much to prove here with Journey 2.
The film takes a place a few years or so after the events in the first film. We're introduced once again to Sean Anderson, who is now a seventeen year old looking for any kind of adventure. When his missing grandfather sends him a code that'll map him to a "mysterious island", his stepfather Hank uses this opportunity to further the relationship between him and Sean. When the two and a hired helicopter pilot and his beautiful daughter clash into a wormhole that leads them to the island, they plan to find Sean's grandfather and make their way home. When a stream of water threatens to take the island down in just a matter of hours, the crew battles for their lives and the adventures kicks into high gear!
Personally, Journey 2 is a better film than its predecessor. With Journey to the Center of the Earth, its a story that so many people are already so familiar with despite the film's book-fiction-turned-real twist. This film follows that same formula, but the story of The Mysterious Island isn't as famously told or known as the Center of the Earth was. This fresh feeling that the sequel grasps only makes Journey 2 a much better ride! The film may not have any new elements to it that we haven't seen in the genre before, but its still energetic and keeps the pace moving fast enough where the kiddies won't grow bored!
Journey 2 is a film to experience in 3D, that is without any question. I can remember the day I saw Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D. Remember those annoying glasses? If I remember correctly, the film gave me one of the worst headaches ever, and the 3D (while tempting to glare at) was extremely painful on the eyes. 3D technology has certainly advanced since 2008, considering we are given a new 3D adventure every other weekend, so Journey 2 is a huge step up from what the first film was. The 3D design here is beautiful and the scenery is almost impossible not to find beautifully well-done. Some of the CGI in the film could of used a touch-up here and there (especially on the creature effects), but overall, the film stayed true to having a glorifying effect. At least the design was easy on the eyes.
From midget elephants to berries bouncing off The Rock's chest in 3D, Journey 2 certainly has a whole lot to offer to keep the kids (and adults) laughing and thrilled from start to finish. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a great adventure-flick, one that even got me reflecting on my childhood and the classic adventures films I'd watch with my grandfather as a kid. The movie is far from being something perfect, but its definitely not the flop that people are expecting it to be. I look forward to seeing how the third film turns out! Let's just hope the cast of this film sticks with the next project and we don't have Ashton Kutcher leading the next one over Johnson!
Thanks for the read!
-Written by Corey Wood