I love great adventure books and movies, and as a kid on Saturday mornings I reveled in the spectacle of watching Journey to the Center of the Earth on television, or being dropped at the theater to watch the likes of The People That Time Forgot, or becoming entranced by the many volumes of Tarzan adventure books. For me, the new film Journey 2: The Mysterious Island does a good job of paying tribute to those long lost days of good-natured innocent adventure.
The story for this sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) is centered on a step-father (Dwayne Johnson – The Rock) connecting with his adventurous stepson (Josh Hutcherson from the first Journey movie) by traveling to said Mysterious Island to find the boy’s lost grandfather (Michael Caine). Actress Vanessa Hudgens is thrown into the mix as a romantic interest, and Luis Guzmán provides a lot of unnecessary, but still fun, comedic relief.
The movie is in 3D and has decent effects, for the most part, but at times the gimmick is used just to remind you that, hey, we’re using 3D here folks. There is a scene where The Rock is bouncing berries off his chest that is particularly annoying. The most amusing use of 3D was in the very fun pre-movie cartoon, Daffy’s Rhapsody, where Daffy Duck’s famous spittle is realistically flying from his mouth.
The most interesting aspect of Journey 2 is the how they’ve incorporated the Victorian era books that inspired the film into the movie’s plot, including 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Jules Verne – 1870); A Journey to the Center of the Earth (Jules Verne – 1864); The Mysterious Island (Jules Verne – 1874); Treasure Island (Robert Louis Stevenson – 1883 ); and even Gulliver’s Travels (Jonathan Swift – 1726). Shhhh…don’t tell the kids, this movie might actually trick them into getting interested in reading.
The story takes the stance that the classic adventure books, by Jules Verne and others, were all about real events that took place in real places, specifically The Mysterious Island, and Journey 2 covers a lot of ground. You’ve got giant lizards chasing the adventurers through the jungle, the sinking lost city of Atlantis, erupting volcanoes spewing gold and even Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus, from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Journey 2 has its problems to be sure, but it’s a lot of fun for kids, and as an adult it took me back to those old Saturday morning sci-fi flicks I loved as a child. You can do a lot worse that settling into a theater seat with a big bag of popcorn and getting lost in the world of the Mysterious Island.