In all fairness, when a sequel to a mediocre movie comes out and the original star is absent – in this case Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Brendan Frazer – it’s hard to imagine it being that big a deal. And in fairness, Journey 2 isn’t going to set the movie world alight but with Dwayne Johnson being his charismatic self, Michael Caine having an embarrassing amount of fun and Luis Guzman being, well, we just like to see Guzman on the screen, the fun level is amped to MAX.
With little time being spend on explaining why Sean (Hutcherson) isn’t with his uncle from the first movie (Frazer) but rather is now living with his mum (Kristin Davis) and stepdad (Johnson), we pick up in the middle of a bike chase. It seems that Sean is now a rebel who is searching for his grandfather (Caine) who has been missing for two years. However, his search gets him in trouble with the law as he breaks into a satellite research centre to get a coded message he believes leads to The Mysterious Island and must have been sent by his grandad. Luckily his new stepdad Hank is not only friends with the police (charges dropped) but also is an ex-marine code breaker (code deciphered). Always looking to be accepted by Sean, Hank offers to pay for a trip to the South Pacific so they can find the island – or rather prove once and for all that his grandad is mad and take the boy home to live a normal life. However when they show the co-ordinates to the island to the various guides available, only captain Gabato (Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Hudgens) will take them…
Ok, so you’ve seen it all before. However, as a father, sitting watching this with my five-year-old son, I was reminded of my childhood and discovering all the Doug McClure movies and felt the excitement that I experienced back then through him.
Movies like this are sadly a dying breed and Peyton must be commended for keeping them alive… Journey 2 has everything you expect: Giant lizards? Check. Giant spiders? Yup. Tiny elephants? Yup. Peril at every turn, exotic locations and lost cities? Absolutely. What about references to keep the Jules Verne (Vernians ) fans happy? Absolutely.
But while it is an exercise in box checking, Journey 2 is done with such flourish and wit, thanks in no small part to the chemistry between Johnson and Hutcherson and the sense of fun that Caine brings to proceedings when he eventually turns up, that you have no choice but enjoy the adventure and by the time they reach the Nautilus, yes that one, you’re having a blast.
The direction is adequate with Peyton favouring the sweeping over-the-shoulder reveals, but the island often lends itself to it happily enough and there’s only so many times the camera can follow a creature until something in the foreground finally shows how small/giant they are before you start seeing them coming, but that said, he frames the action well and allows some nice comedy moments and uses the 3D to great effect. Showing that he, as other film-makers have, is learning that less is more with new/old technology.
I’m still not sure if I can forgive him for the pec-rapid-fire scene though. Don’t ask… if you see it, you’ll know.
All in all, I don’t think this is a movie I’d take a date to my nerdy friends, but if you have a couple of hours that need killed, or want something that you know the kids will love and will keep you occupied then this will do… at least until The Phantom Menace or Muppets open in a few weeks.
In closing, it’s nothing new, but it’s a fun throwback to the movies of my childhood and I love that my son loved it… that’s what it aims to do and it does it admirably. Now, when is the moon-bound part three coming?
3 out of 4 Nerds