JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
While many other critics were rolling their eyes at this in-your-face 3D sequel to 2008’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” I was having a blast watching it. While 3D adventure films can be a challenge, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” decided early on it was going to be nothing more than a fun Saturday morning cartoon ride. And that’s what I thoroughly enjoyed about it.
I grew up with TV shows like “Land of the Lost” when I was a kid, and the feature film of that wasn’t quite what I wanted. Throwing a couple families on a mysterious island filled with giant lizards and the like made “Journey 2” more “Land of the Lost” than the Will Ferrell movie from 2009.
The new film swaps out Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for Brenden Fraser, which was a wise move. Fraser just plays too goofy in a role like this, but Johnson pulls off the family adventure amazingly well. Not since Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “Kindergarten Cop” days have we seen a musclehead actor be able to work in family films with such ease.
Johnson plays Hank, the step-father of Sean (Josh Hutcherson), a teenager who is trying to find his grandfather (Michael Caine) that went missing on a quest to find Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island. Together, they rent a helicopter from Palau, fly into the center of a tropical storm and get stranded on the very island they’re looking for.
There’s no real depth of story here, but the action, visual design and tongue-in-cheek humor of the film keep it going. I remember watching this in the theater with my kids and loving it, then revisiting it at home and enjoying it just as much. Running a relatively short 94 minutes, the film doesn’t get bogged down and left me wanting more. And considering how well the movie did in theaters and overseas, it’s likely we see them all back for another Vernian adventure, as promised in the film.
The Blu-ray includes a gag reel and several VFX-in-process deleted scenes. There’s also an interactive guide to the island that features behind-the-scene spots about the production of the film. The Blu-ray is also UltraViolet compatible, which allows streaming and download to a compatible Android, iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices.
A 3D Blu-ray version of the film is also available from Warner Home Video.