Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Monday, February 6, 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Worth the Trip

Rated: PG  Brief mild language and some adventure action.
Release Date: February 10, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 34 mins

Director: Brad Peyton
Writers: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn, Richard Outten, based on the materials from Jules Verne
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis

SYNOPSIS: Seventeen-year-old Sean Anderson decodes a 'Vernian' message that leads him, his step-father Hank, and a helicopter pilot and his daughter on an adventure to a mysterious island in the middle of the South Pacific that supposedly does not exist.

REVIEW: Director Brad Peyton, known for the spy games that go along with Cat and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, jumps onboard to go big with a screenplay by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn (Bring It On Again) from a story by the writing duo and Richard Outten (Pet Sematary II). Based on the characters and locales of the acclaimed 19th Century science fiction and fantasy writer Jules Verne, Peyton returns with a more grown up Sean Anderson from the previously released Journey to the Center of the Earth, shooting the film entirely in 3D. 
A seventeen-year-old Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, Journey to the Center of the Earth) stumbles upon a decoded 'Vernian' transmission that he believes will lead him to his grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine, The Dark Knight) and the mysterious island that Jules Verne wrote about. Together with his mother's husband Hank (Dwayne Johnson, Fast Five), Sean decodes the message and heads to the South Pacific to track down the coordinates one hundred miles off the coast. While no one else will risk the trip out to the middle of the ocean, tour helicopter pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman, Arthur) and his daughter Kailani (Venessa Hudgens, Sucker Punch) take advantage of Sean's desperation and American dollars. Heading to the coordinates, the helicopter goes down in the middle of a hurricane and crashes on the shoreline of the island Sean has been seeking. Moving inland, they marvel at the size of tiny elephants and giant butterflies, fight off and run from giant lizards, and run into Sean's adventurer grandfather Alexander. But the family reunions are cut short when Hank realizes that the island is about ready to sink back into the ocean, years ahead of schedule. At that point, adventuring is replaced by the need for survival and to get off the island before it sinks 20,000 leagues under the sea.

Shot entirely using sophisticated 3D camera rigs and mostly on location in Oahu, Hawaii, Peyton uses the depth of the technology plus great special visual effects to produce a colorful storybook landscape filled with miniature pachyderms, bees large enough to ride like horses, lizards as big as a bus but five times as mean, and cascading waterfalls over jagged cliffs misting over architecture that could be the lost continent of Atlantis. Similar in tone and visuals to Journey to the Center of the Earth, the environments and predators are unreal enough to appeal to young PG audiences without being too overwhelming or scary, all the while giving parents enough to enjoy as well.

Dwayne Johnson is his usual good natured, capable self, winning most over with his big smile and bigger physique. As always, he carries himself with confidence and an easy swagger that comes second nature. But while Johnson's Hank becomes Gabato's idol, he doesn't win over Michael Caine's Alexander at all. Alexander considers years of adventuring much more worthy of praise than being a former-Navy, current family man with a construction business taking care of Sean's mother, and trying to look out for Sean. Although still a teenager, Sean considers himself an adventurer in his own right. He survived the center of the earth with his uncle Trevor four years ago and thinks himself his own man. Of course, he does fall for the beautiful pilot's daughter, Kailani, unable to win her over with his adventurer's abilities. With three alpha males, one alpha female, and Gabato, there is plenty of tension to go around that does not have anything to do with the island and its beautiful and dangerous inhabitants. Not being an alpha himself, Gabato does bring plenty of pratfalls and a smearing of scatological humor to his chagrin and the audience's grins.

Jules Verne provides the bulk of the source material for the film, inspiring a storyline with references to 'Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea' and 'The Mysterious Island'. In addition, the story references Jonathan Swift's 'Gulliver's Travels' and Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Robinson Crusoe' and 'Treasure Island'. In fact, part of the fun is combining the three books regarding islands from the three authors into a single piece of untangled deciphered code. In Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Jules Verne's nineteenth century visionary stories, filled with submarines and creatures of all disproportionate sizes, make for a grand fun adventure for kids of all ages.

In IMAX 3D, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island takes full advantage of the technology. From dizzying aerial chases in the clouds and through the tree between bees and predatory birds trying to eat them (and their human riders), to a mother lizard angry that puny humans broke one of her baby eggs, to Hank's 3D opportunity to have Sean throw berries against his patent-pending 'pec pop of love',  Journey 2 is a fun fast thrill-ride. And even though there is no villain to the story, the island provides enough predatory and tectonic peril for our heroes and semi-heroes (sorry, Gabato!) to overcome as they try to escape the island before the ocean rushes over its shores.

A visual crowd-pleaser, kids of all ages with enjoy the clean, fast fun of this PG film. You may be able to do without the expense of the IMAX 3D, but it certainly adds a layer of thrills that you may lose in regular 2D. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island works as a good sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, letting us continue our journey with the young Sean Anderson as he becomes the expert avid adventurer. And it may make your kids want to pick up a classic book or two afterward!

WORTH: Matinee and DVD (for the kids)

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