Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the sequel to the 2008 film Journey to the Centre of the Earth. It retains lead teenage actor Josh Hutcherson but replaces his father Trevor played by Brendan Fraser with a step-father, Hank played by The Rock. Like the original it is loosely based on the novel of the same name by Jules Verne, but treats the novels as non-fiction. It was more successful than its predecessor and ended up taking over $300m at the box office off of a budget of $79m.
Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island that shouldn’t exist. He gathers together a group to investigate the island including his step-father Hank (The Rock), a pilot Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). Together they encounter Sean’s grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine) and in turn giant lizards, tiny elephants and a volcano that spits gold as they desperately try to escape before the island and everything on it sinks.
Thanks the heavens then that the team in Journey 2 can rely on The Rock to keep them alive. Where it took Alexander half a lifetime to discover the Mysterious Island, it takes The Rock a mere four minutes. As if his incredible mental powers and general nice guy attitude weren’t enough, he also has ‘the thunder cookie’ and the ‘pec pop of love.’ To any normal man this would be a simple punch and a flexing of the pecs, but to The Rock these take on a whole other level. He’s even able to bounce berries off his chest in one of the more bizarre scenes in Journey 2.
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island proves more than an acceptable vehicle for The Rock’s natural charisma, with his witty one-liners good enough to temper the terrible and forced dramatic side of the script. His interplay with Caine is enjoyable in small doses and Hutcherson manages to avoid falling into the trap of being too cocky for his own good. Still for the level of talent assembled, Journey 2 has serious script problems namely awful dialogue, mediocre score and some of the most over-the-top colourful visuals seen in many years.
Journey 2 is as mad as it is fun and while it’ll never win any Oscars, there’s enough enjoyment to be had. Better than the original it really is as mad as a box of frogs. The Caine/Rock pairing is inspired stuff and if ever there was proof that The Rock deserves to be given a big franchise to himself this is it, as he drags such a bizarre film up to an almost passable standard.