Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

When Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was first released I didn’t make the connection that it was a sequel to Journey to the Center of the EarthBrendan Fraser and pretty much everyone else from the first film were not brought back for the second installment save for Josh Hutcherson.  Before the release of The Hunger Games, I could not have picked Hutcherson out of a police line up, so his reprising the role of Sean Anderson did nothing to aid me in making a connection between the films.  I’m not exactly sure when I did finally figure it out, but now having seen the movie I wonder if any of that really matters, because it’s not a terribly good flick. 

The plot of the movie follows Hutcherson’s Sean and his stepfather Hank (played by Dwayne Johnson) as they trace a mysterious  radio signal to a mythical mysterious island born from the pages of classic adventure novels.  Along for the ride is a tour guide and his tween daughter who join Hutcherson and Johnson in their search to find Sean’s grandfather as well as a way to return home.

The best way I can describe this movie is that it is to action/adventure movies what Coors Light is to beer – very very soft.  It plays like it is geared to a younger audience that probably could care less about volcanic explosions and aerial chases.  Director Brad Peyton's film clearly panders to tween viewers by delivering  large doses of cotton candy puppy dog romance through Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgen’s Kailani, while intermittently flashing shots of Dwayne Johnson flexing his pecs to appease all the mom's in the viewing audience.  Regardless, I am clearly not in the target demographic for this film.

With that in mind, here are the four observations I came away from the film with:

Michael Caine is a great actor.  He could read the pages of the dictionary and make it seem compelling and emotive.  On the other hand, Josh Hutcherson – he of Hunger Games and general Hollywood douchebaggery fame – is the polar opposite.  Not only can he not act, but if you could somehow quantify charisma, his score would rate just barely above that of a med school cadaver. 

As for Hutcherson’s paramour in the movie, Vanessa Hudgens, I feel like this may be the first time I have really seen her try to act as I don’t remember her saying anything of consequence in Sucker Punch.  Her performance makes me wonder why in the past she registered on anyone's radar in any way . My guess is that she may have dropped out of the same school of acting as Hutcherson.  On the bright side, neither of the two were able to upstage the  other on screen since neither know a thing about acting.

And, say what you will about Dwayne Johnson but the guy is fun to watch (even when the movie he is in absolutely stinks).  On the one hand he can play the imposing larger than life action star – the kind that doesn’t exist anymore (unless you acknowledge the cast of The Expendables which features a slew of them though long past their prime).  And on the other hand, he can be the egotistical guy in a family-friendly movie, who doesn’t quite get “it” but deep inside has a big heart and will eventually win you over with both his 1000 watt smile as well as his guitar and vocals.  Seriously, Johnson plays the guitar and sings a song in almost all his PG movies (it must be in his contract).  Hey may not be a great actor, but he is definitely a very good entertainer. 

My last thought on this film is that just because a movie is geared towards a younger audience, that shouldn't make it acceptable to have huge plot holes and to demand huge logic leaps.  Putting out a product with these kinds of issues is either born from a general disrespect for the fan base or just plain laziness.  Either way, it’s irresponsible.  In the case of this movie some of the plot issues are so egregious that a nine year old could pick it apart.

What this all means for Journey 2 is that the movie is not very good, but how bad it is really depends on the eye of the beholder.  If you’re over the age of twenty, this movie is a definite no.  No matter how much you love dHunger Games (and I guess Josh Hutcherson by extension), or how attractive you think Vanessa Hudgens and/or Dwayne Johnson are, there’s absolutely no reason for you to watch this film.  If the movie is to be viewed by someone under the age of fifteen then some entertainment value should be found.  And as for someone between those two age groups, it’s a crapshoot.  Proceed at your own risk.

Standout Performance: Dwayne Johnson gets the nod in this film because he carries most of the action sequences and the bulk of the comedic relief as well to the point where at times it almost feels like a one-man show.


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