I’m one of the very few people who actually enjoyed “Journey to the Center of the Earth” for what it was. It was nothing more than a ninety minute roller coaster ride with 3D specks that took the audience through some fun sights and sounds. “Journey 2” is basically the follow-up practicing that very routine all over again. It’s intent is to take you through the various dangers and awe inspiring wonders of the mysterious island before actually telling a story or exploring its characters. One thing it does have going for it, is that it makes reading and compiling information look sleek and exciting. If Dwayne Johnson is doing it, maybe the young audience this film appeals to, will.
Where as the first film was mainly about Brendan Fraser screeching a lot and exploring with his two sidekicks, “Journey 2” pits the focus more on the ensemble. And it gathers an amusing ensemble of actors to portray your normal adventure cast of usual suspects, all of whom have a blast travailing this odd island with various wonders to behold. Former star Fraser, who played Sean’s uncle, is nowhere to be found and now Josh Hutcherson plays the main role as protagonist Sean who is intent on finding a lost island foretold by Jules Vern where he hopes he’ll be able to find his long lost grandfather. Along with him is his put upon step father Hank, as played by the charming Dwayne Johnson, both of whom travel to the islands along with an inept helicopter pilot Gabato (as portrayed by Luiz Guzman), and his dreamy daughter Kailani (as played by the gorgeous Vanessa Hudgens).
After being sucked in to a tornado, they land on the mythical island and discover they’re in over their heads with giant monsters, and hidden menaces within the jungle. While there they meet Sean’s long lost adventurer grandfather Alexander, and the remainder of the film is spent hopping from point to point on the island trying to uncover its secrets while dodging some rather sharp CGI. The cast provide competent enough performances for a film that doesn’t demand too much from them. This isn’t a film based around drama or complexity. They’re required to just look up at the sights and battle monsters for ninety minutes, and they do their jobs. Johnson is likable as the well meaning step dad to Sean, who has good intentions toward bonding with him, and will do what it takes to keep him safe.
Michael Caine is well fitted for his eccentric explorer role as the cooky grandfather to Sean who leads our troop through the island to help him uncover Verne’s mysteries, while Guzman is funny as the obligatory comedic relief whose duty is to screech and play the coward most of the times. Hudgens is mainly eye candy for the tween boys, and a superheroine for the tween girls, and she brings both traits in spades. “Journey 2” is a guilt free and family friendly little adventure with some dazzling special effects, and a simple and light story that never drips too heavily on the sentiment or emotions. It definitely has its appeal to the crowd it’s pandering toward, and it’s a success in its mission to bring the awe and thrills.
Among the special features in the Blu-Ray, there’s a twenty one minute interactive game with Josh Hutcherson as he guides you through the map of the island as well as teaching you how to survive on the mysterious land that house monsters and animals of all kinds. There’s also looks behind the special effects and the making of the film. There’s also a one minute gag reel as well as six minutes of deleted scenes that have little to no value. For folks looking for a fresh new take on this blossoming movie series, “Journey 2” sheds Brendan Fraser in exchange of the more likable and charming Dwayne Johnson while upping the monsters and thrills with a story that doesn’t demand too much from its viewers and will entertain its intended target movie audience.