Susan Granger’s review of “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” (Warner Bros.)
Following in the footsteps of “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (2008), this fantastic 3-D family adventure begins when rebellious 17 year-old Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded radio message sent by someone whom he believes to be his long-lost grandfather. Reluctantly working with his new step-father, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), who has had Navy cryptogram experience, Sean realizes that the distress signal is emanating from somewhere in the South Pacific. Leaving mom (Kristin Davis) back home in Dayton, Ohio, Sean and Hank venture west, eventually hooking up with with Gabato (Luiz Guzman), a goofy, fast-talking helicopter pilot, and his willfully determined daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), only to be swept up in the eye of a hurricane. Crash-landing on an uncharted tropical island, they not only find Sean’s delightfully droll grandfather, Alexander Anderson (Michael Caine), but also discover a bizarre, rainbow-filled, new world, courtesy of Jules Verne, whose plot elements are co-mingled with Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Robinson Crusoe.”.
In this exotic, mysteriously Vernian place, tiny insects, birds and reptiles grow humungous, while elephants are miniaturized. While the intrepid explorers are stumbling over boulders that turn out to be giant lizard eggs, a far greater danger is imminent as the eruptions from a gold-spewing volcano threaten to sink everything and plunge everyone into the sea – unless they can escape in the Nautilus, Captain Nemo’s long-hidden submarine, which Hank inventively jump-starts by harpooning a gigantic electric eel.
Based on Jules Verne’s 1874 novel, episodically scripted by Richard Outten, Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn and light-heartedly helmed by Canadian director Brad Peryton (“Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”), it revolves around the occasionally awesome CGI. Dwayne Johnson delivers a memorable musical turn, warbling “What a Wonderful World,” accompanying himself on the ukulele – when he’s not bouncing berries off his impressive pecs.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” is an imaginative, adventurous 6. Aimed at tween boys, it’s destined to thrive when it comes out on DVD.