Jules Verne’s timeless literary classics have been the target for many an impractical film adaptation over the years, so I think it goes without saying that it’s high time we had a faithful motion picture rendering of one of his works. Sadly, the Walden Media-produced family adventure pic Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is not the film we’ve been waiting for. In fact, it’s nowhere near authentic. Or credible. Actually, truth be told: this is one of the worst damn family-friendly adventure movies I’ve seen in at least a week — an abomination of Hollywood hopelessness that should have Jules Verne come back to life to sue all of those involved with the making of it.
As the film opens, we find our one returning performer from the previous film (2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser), Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) — who also happens to be one of the most annoying characters in the opening fifth of the film — eluding police in a high-speed residential motorbike chase with an accompanying Green Day tune. Now if that’s not what Jules Verne envisioned, then I don’t know what is! His pursuit is not without a purpose, however: having discovered that he can journey to the center of the Earth (see: previous stupid film) — and that the writings of Verne are actually based on fact.
It seems that now, Sean is seeking out the legendary Mysterious Island itself. Following his apprehension by the authorities, Sean’s concerned step-father, Hank (Dwayne Johnson, who is becoming a real pro at appearing in crappy kiddie movies — so much so that he co-produced this one!) decides to make use of his Naval skills and help the kid find the obscure atoll — something the boy’s mother (Kristin Davis, replacing Jane Wheeler from the first film, and delivering an even blander performance in the process) is perfectly OK with. Translating a cryptic message sent from Sean’s flaky adventurer grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine, who has been in worse), the boys travel to Palau, where Hank hopes for some awkward stepfather/stepson bonding.
After engaging the services of a slobby helicopter pilot (an utterly awful Luis Guzmán, who completely redefines “overacting” here) and his hot daughter (Vanessa Hudgens, who is much easier to look at in her various leaked nude photos online), they fly to the coordinates they obtain from Alexander’s message, only to discover a mess of storms that ultimately strands them on the Mysterious Island itself. Once there, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island becomes nothing more than a CGI crap-fest full of bad acting, unbelievably horrendous dialogue, Styrofoam sets, pec flexing (literally: there’s one scene where Johnson shows off that will have the bile-a-rising), and gratuitous 3D money shots.
Surprisingly, this turkey was a hit, raking in a tidy sum at the box office — something that is surely attributable to the notion that parents occasionally drop their kids off at family-friendly movies so they can get a little alone time. At least, that’s my theory: my own children were sitting there shaking their heads in shame right along with me when we watched it. But, there’s no accounting for taste, and Warner Home Video has brought forth two Blu-ray releases of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island — one in 3D, the other in 2D — which feature excellent video and audio presentations as well as bonus SD-DVD discs and UltraViolet download codes.
Special features for this awful flick consist of brief interactive behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the feature, an even shorter gag reel (which mostly prove Vanessa Hudgens should be seen and not heard), and a few deleted scenes that really don’t amount to much. Of course, the whole damn movie didn’t amount to much. But hey, faithful adaptations are for losers, right?