VOD film review: Journey 2 The Mysterious Island
The Rock's pecs8
Michael Caine riding a giant bumblee6
Ivan Radford | On 15, Nov 2014Reading time: 3 mins
Director: Brad Peyton
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Michael Caine, Vanessa Hudgens, Luiz Guzman
Watch Journey 2 online in the UK: iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Centuries of French literature, film and fantasy fiction and it has come down to this: Are The Rock’s pecs bouncy enough to make Journey 2 fun? The answer is easy: Yes.
You see, Dwayne Johnson, for all his limitations, possesses that one crucial thing: charisma. And the ability to play the ukelele. Ok, two things. (Four if you include both his pecs.)
Shoved in a sequel to a film that people seem to dislike – despite it being rather good – Johnson effectively plays the lead as step-father to Alex (Hutcherson), the least memorable (yet only surviving) character from Journey to the Centre of the Earth 3D. The young Hunger Games star is fine as the geeky teen, but Alex is such a non-entity that we need someone to root for. In case The Rock’s pecs can’t cut it, we also get Michael Caine as Alex’s granddad. Riding a giant bumblebee.
So really the question is this: Is Michael Caine riding a giant bee enough to make Journey 2 entertaining? That one’s easy: Hell yes.
Still, The Mysterious Island is little more than a chase movie. Alex heads to the titular landmass – accompanied by The Rock’s pecs – in search of his castaway granddad (and giant bees). Encountering monsters galore, they dash around in ever-embiggening circles of nonsense. But the cast have an energy that keeps the pace going. They run, they make jokes, sometimes they run and make jokes at the same time. Amazingly, the majority of them hit the mark. Even Luis Guzmán, who plays the silly-voiced comic relief, turns his role into something oddly endearing and amusing.
It helps if you like the basic concept of the script – the idea of Vernians, people who believe that Jules Vernes’ novels were science fact, not fiction. “How do you know what button to press?” quizzes Hutcherson at one point. The Rock replies: “It’s in chapter 17.” Any blockbuster that praises reading is surely a good thing, even if it does rip off every other adventure film ever made.
Fresh from helming Cats & Dogs 2, Brad Peyton’s direction is solid enough to keep the visuals lively. Some impressive set design balances out the copious CGI, which brings us everything from cute midget elephants to pretty oversized butterflies. As is often the way with one-upping blockbusters, the final 20 minutes are unnecessary, but for every pointless volcano, there’s The Rock doing his “pec pop of love”. And a shot of Vanessa Hudgens crawling down a hole. From behind.
Perhaps the question should actually be this: Is Vanessa Hudgens crawling down a hole enough to make The Mysterious Island worth watching? The fact that this question is even relevant probably says more about the film than anything else. Nonetheless, this adventure is – like an oversized insect straddled by Harry Palmer – mostly harmless. Jokes, Jules Verne and Michael Caine riding a giant bee. What more could you want?