Although Journey 2: The Mysterious Island returns only a single character from 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth the sequel feels very much like a retread of the same adventure. Once again we get the teenager on a quest to find a lost family member with the help of an older authority figure in the middle of a Jules Vernian landscape come to life.
In an attempt to bond with his stepson, Hank (Dwayne Johnson) agrees to take a trip to find Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island after Sean (Josh Hutcherson) deciphers a code sent from his grandfather (Michael Caine) who went missing a few months ago. The pair enlist the help of a Pacific helicopter pilot (Luis Guzmán) and his daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) and soon the foursome find themselves stranded on the island no one, other than Sean, really believed existed.
Much like the first film, the group has to learn to stay alive in the new environment which includes monsters and aggressive plant life. The trouble is this time around the film looks like it ran out of a special effect budget halfway through as some of the effects (such as the miniature elephants) work well, but others (such as the bombs aboard Captain Nemo‘s submarine) look like they were made for less than a dollar. At times Journey 2 feels like an Land of the Lost episode.
I’m not sure if it’s the lack of grandeur, or simply the fact that the film is going through the exact same motions as the first movie, but Journey 2 does little more than limp along for most of its 94-minute running time with a glut of legends and fantasy elements including everything from Atlantis to Gulliver’s Travels including the final resting place of Captain Nemo, giant bees, and a volcano of gold.
The storytelling is also suspect as the pace which the script gets our four main characters to the island leaves much to be desired. Hank goes from grounding the kid to shelling out thousands of dollars for the adventure at a drop of the hat, and our wacky island co-star (Guzmán) seems all too eager to jump right into danger until it becomes too late to turn back. And to call the teen romance between Hudgens and Hutcherson forced doesn’t express just how ridiculously hamfisted the teens’ tale gets.
Available on both DVD and Blu-ray, extras include a gag reel, deleted scenes, and an Ultraviolet digital copy of the movie. The Blu-ray also includes an interactive featurette on the various places and creatures used seen in the film.
[Warner Home Video, 3D Blu-ray $44.98 / Blu-ray $35.99 / DVD $28.98]