- Running time:
- 94 minutes
- Dwayne Johnson -
- Michael Caine -
- Josh Hutcherson -
- Vanessa Hudgens -
- Kristin Davis -
So, who's up for an adventure?
Those are the oft-spoken words in the far-fetched, well-intentioned adventure tale Journey 2: The Mysterious Island(* * ½ out of four, rated PG, opens Friday nationwide), which features a likable performance from Dwayne Johnson, over-the-top portrayals from such talented actors as Michael Caine and Luis Guzmán, and gimmicky 3-D.
The opening voice-over narration, distinctively intoned by Caine, describes the influence of sci-fi pioneer Jules Verne, and the film refers to a remote idyll described in his 1874 novel The Mysterious Island.
Ostensibly a sequel to 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth, it has a similar amusement-park-ride quality and follows the exploits of Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role).
Now 17, Sean is sullenly coping with new stepfather Hank (Johnson) who only recently wed his mom (Kristin Davis). Hank is doing his level best but is failing to connect with the teen. Sean, whose father died, is initially resistant but warms up to Hank when they crack a coded distress signal.
Sean deciphers the island coordinates with the help of Hank, a former Navy code-breaker. They fly to the South Pacific in search of Verne's Mysterious Island and, from there, are perilously ferried by helicopter pilot Gabato (Guzmán) and his daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens).
They fly into a storm and crash-land on an island that puts Xanadu, Shangri-La and most of Disneyland to shame. It's a spectacular place with a gold-spewing volcano, tiny elephants and iridescent butterflies the size of eagles.
The island's lone human inhabitant is Sean's peripatetic grandfather Alexander (Caine), who sent his grandson the message to draw him there.
Dueling adventurers Hank and Alexander lock horns. The film's few funny lines are bandied amusingly between Johnson and Caine. Hearing Hank call Alexander "Mary Poppins" and Alexander refer to Hank as "Sasquatch" is more entertaining — at least for anyone over 10 — than the rather lackluster aerial chases with the cast riding giant furry bees.
The quintet must find a way off the island, which the seemingly all-knowing Hank figures out is sinking fast.
It's a thoroughly family-friendly film, with a subtle message about the importance of father figures. Don't expect anything resembling believability, but enjoy the blend of strikingly colorful visuals and banter between odd couple Johnson and Caine, which combine for a mild escapist treat.