Like its predecessor, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is an oddball concoction.
Following Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008), it is the second entry in what apparently is a planned series of family-friendly 3D comedic adventure films based on the novels of Jules Verne.
However, only one character — an aspiring teenage explorer named Sean (Josh Hutcherson) — returns from the first film. And outside of hijacking the name, the movie really doesn’t have much to do with the source material anyway.
As the film opens, Sean receives a radio transmission from his eccentric grandfather (Michael Caine) an uncharted Pacific island that he believes is proof that the location described in Verne’s novel The Mysterious Island really exists. His stepfather (Dwayne Johnson) reluctantly agrees to take a trip with him as a way of bonding.
Amid a torrential storm, their helicopter crashes on an idyllic island of giant bees and tiny elephants, of golden volcanoes and remnants of the lost city of Atlantis. More danger follows when the island begins to sink back into the ocean and the only hope for rescue is finding the Nautilus submarine that belonged to Verne’s Captain Nemo.
The film is a frenetic compilation of extravagant action sequences and special effects with no attention paid to plot or character development.
Yet there is one redeeming quality. Even if the screenplay isn’t reverent to the work of Verne, it references the book frequently and might prompt young viewers to go give it a read.
Sean is an avid reader of adventure fiction, such as Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels, which isn’t a bad trait to pass along to a generation raised with smartphones and short attention spans. Just hope youngsters don’t pick up on his nasty habits of stealing motorcycles and acting like a spoiled brat.
At any rate, the cast is generally agreeable as it wanders from one perilous encounter to the next, cracking jokes and — in the case of Sean and the teenage daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) of a fledgling tour guide — predictably flirting.
Johnson again proves to be adept at both comedy and action, and Caine is amusing enough as he passes through on his way to the bank.
The Mysterious Island keeps the pace lively and makes generous use of its 3D capabilities. As a would-be adaptation of the novel, however, it’s pure nonsense.
Rated PG, 94 minutes.