Complete A-Z list

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island


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

Director: Brad Peyton

Screenwriters Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn cheerfully swipe elements from Verne, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Stevenson’s Treasure Island and blend them into an essentially barmy but hugely enjoyable family fantasy adventure that won’t be too painful for adults who are riding herd on the youngsters, at whom this sequel is accurately aimed.

Hutcherson returns from 2008’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and, motivated by a radio message he receives from his long lost grandfather Caine, he and stepfather Johnson (the actor formerly known as The Rock), helicopter pilot Guzman for comic relief and his daughter Hudgens for teenage romantic relief. set off to find the eponymous mysterious island. Which they do, when they crash down on the beach after a close encounter of the disintegrating kind with a massive waterspout.

The island, a mixture of studio interiors, special effects and Hawaiian locations, turns out to be home to miniature, spaniel-sized elephants, giant bees, giant butterflies, huge lizards and a welcome giant electric eel, along with assorted flora and fauna, to say nothing of the lost city of Atlantis and, conveniently for a last minute escape at the climax, Captain Nemo’s legendary submarine ‘Nautilus’.

Peyton’s brisk direction drives the show over plotholes, sensibly avoiding artistic flourishes in favour of entertainment, piling on one action and/or suspense sequence after another, leavening them with comedy and slapstick, topped by the unlikely sight of a bearded Caine riding a giant bumble-bee into the sky. Caine, genial and not a little daffy, is clearly enjoying himself and it's infectious. That enjoyment even spreads to the scene when Johnson, playing a small guitar and singing his own lyrics to ‘What a Wonderful World’ warbles that Caine is “older than Yoda”.

Deep acting isn’t a priority and it doesn’t happen. Hutcherson and Hudgens do what is required of them as juvenile leads/love interest, Johnson is solid and Guzman plays up to his comic cliches with commendable enthusiasm.

The 3D filming is effective but, even shown flat, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island will still do the business comically, excitingly and fantastically.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Warner. Colour.
99 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 04 Feb 2012