Sunday, February 26, 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Starring: Michael Cain, Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens and Luis Guzmán
Rated PG for some adventure action, and brief mild language
Running time: 94 minutes

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is available for viewing in both 3D and regular versions. Keep the different versions in mind because the action will be more intense in 3D.

This movie starts out with an old-fashioned cartoon short starring Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd. It’s titled ‘Daffy's Rhapsody’ and it is a special part of the Warner Brothers 75th anniversary so it may also end up in the DVD/BluRay release, as well. This short was built around a Mel Blanc recording from 1950 and they generated animation to make a new/old cartoon.

On to our feature.

Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) starts out with some breaking and entering in a satellite facility, running from the police on a moped and crash landing into someone’s backyard pool. He then proceeds to get all attitude-y when mildly chastised by his step-father. Teenagers, right. Now, while it is technically a sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth, we did not see that movie. There was apparently a little bit of backstory that explained Sean’s behavior but you get up to speed thanks to some handy expositional conversation between mom (Kristin Davis) and Hank (Dwayne Johnson), the new stepfather. Seems Sean hasn’t been able to count on the male figures in his life and so he’s underwhelmed by the efforts Hank has been making.

Hank helps Sean decode a message from his grandfather. See the men in Sean’s family are Vernians – individuals who think that the writings of Jules Verne are really fact disguised as fiction. And Grandpa has sent a message to Sean that he’s found it.

Hank is a great role model even if he makes sketchy choices in his attempt to bond with and win over his stepson. And it’s made clear that’s truly his goal. He’s not trying to impress his pretty, new wife. He really, really wants to be the Guy-Sean-Can-Count-On and the reason why becomes abundantly clear later on in the movie. With mom’s blessing, Sean and Hank set off to find the Mysterious Island of the title and, most importantly, Sean’s grandfather.

Along the way, our adventurers team up with a father-daughter tour duo (Vanessa Hudgens and Luis Guzman). The trip to Mysterious Island is downright scary. The four are in a dilapidated helicopter and face severe storms. Lightning strikes the helicopter and, of course, it’s going to crash. The crash are too long and too detailed in my opinion. They quickly cut to the characters safely regrouping on land but I know my 10 yo was shaken up by it a little.

The Mysterious Island looks forbidding and harsh until they find a way off the beach and are deposited into paradise. All the animals are mixed up – big is small and vice versa. There is a scary encounter with a giant lizard. She is very angry that the team has inadvertently been walking on her eggs. Grandpa (Michael Caine) appears in the nick of time to rescue the group.

Grandpa shows them around his island paradise. Thanks to Hank’s training in the Navy he realizes that the island is sinking. Since Mysterious Island is real, so must be Captain Nemo’s submarine which the book indicates is moored on the rocky coast on the far side of the island. They decide to go for the sub.

Giant bumblebees are charmingly designated transportation. Hungry birds chase the bees and it is frightening when Kailani is jolted off and falls from a great height. She is grabbed by Sean at the last moment and set safely on the ground but again for smaller children this may be too intense. Sean is also minorly injured when he takes a tumble off his bee after escaping the bird.

Hank and Grandpa tend to Sean’s dislocated ankle and while Kailani and Gabato search for wood, Hank reveals he was abandoned by his own dad when he was young. The next morning they realize the sinking is accelerating beyond and they must hasten their pace but Gabato is missing. Grandpa volunteers to stick with Kailani to go back searching for her dad and send Hank and Sean on to the coast to get the submarine.

Tense moments occur to both groups during the split up with Kailani, Grandpa, Gabato enduring seismic activity; and Hank and Sean encountering a giant electric eel and a rusted hatch keeping them from getting in the sub.

Once Kailani, Grandpa, Gabato are on the coast the scariest moments in the whole movie happen: on the cliff edge the island pitches and shakes violently and while they are on their knees holding on for their lives, it literally crumbles underneath them plunging them into the churning ocean.

As this is a PG movie, clearly everyone will survive but there are multiple occurrences that are exciting for older kids but really too intense for younger viewers.

My biggest problem with this movie is actually Kailani’s wardrobe. She’s presented as a smart and very capable girl yet she’s dressed in skimpy clothes. Her shorts are low rise and inappropriately short. They’re borderline when she’s just standing but once she starts moving, they cross the line to too revealing. As the mother of a tween girl, I am disappointment that movie makers weren’t more cognizant of their market. I have become all too aware of the challenges the fashion industry and media create for me and my daughter as I try to raise her to value herself for what’s on the inside and not what she looks like on the outside.

We enjoyed the film but with some caveats. I would recommend this movie for families with kids 10 years and older and use the issues presented to talk with your kids about what family means, how having adventures needs to be balanced with being responsible and if you have impressionable tween girls maybe talk about clothing choices and the pressure to look a certain way.

Reviewed by Aimee Hix


  1. Great review. I appreciate the heads up on the clothing factor to, as I couldn't agree more with your reasons for being bothered by inappropriate attire.

    I think I'm taking my 13 year old to see it this week. Thanks, Aimee!!

  2. Teenagers, right.

    That cracked me up, Aimee. Love the new blog, and the movie sounds good, too. And I'm with you about the clothing choices for young girls (even late teens). Ugh. Ugh. And UGH.

  3. I loved the movie. So did my family. It's everything you said.

    However, I'm glad I read this AFTER I saw it. In this post, the whole movie is laid out including when the suspenseful parts of the movie were, and what happened. All the surprises and what actions occurred to get the protagonists out of their sticky or suspenseful situations were revealed. So, someone reading this is going to basically know how it all plays out. Where is the fun in that? Why DO that? Reviews usually avoid spoilers because they ruin the fun. And, yeah, I know I'm coming across as judgmental about it, but a synopsis "review" no matter if it's book or movie, is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine.

    I'm a movie-goer who enjoys a bit of suspense and drama without demanding a dissection and autopsy beforehand.

    That being said:
    The warnings about dress code are valid. Hands down spot on. I also agree about age appropriate direction. Too often "real" movie critics in magazines and on T.V. gloss over the effect that certain scenes might have on younger audiences - they're too jaded by a lifetime of movie gluttony. I am also gladdened to see a parent who cares enough to try to warn other parents of what could be objectionable about a film. Critics seem to have no clue.

    Addendum: If you can edit, you might want to change this line "I am disappointment that movie makers" to "I am disappointed..."