Film Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
● By Justin Buettner
The sequel to the popular 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth follows Sean Anderson. He discovers a distress signal from his grandfather and sets out with his stepfather to find the Mysterious Island where they suspect his grandfather is stranded. The pair crash land on the island with a pair of tour guides. They quickly learn that the island is sinking at an alarming rate, and they must find a way to rescue his grandfather and escape the island before it submerges.
Everyone has heard the expression, “Well, it’s a kids movie” when describing how they liked a film. It’s what people say when they know they had just viewed what may have been a good movie purposely made horribly as to not offend the desired demographic: 8 year-olds. You rarely attach, “That’s just a kids movie” to a Pixar film because when a movie is good it appeals to everyone. A movie like Journey 2 should not be just for kids but sadly it is. Journey 2 looked to have all the components for a great adventure movie. It had likable actors, a fairly decent premise, it had the effects, and all the creatures you could imagine but all these components couldn’t make up for what the movie didn’t have which was decent dialog, a competent director, any tension in any scene in the movie, and the removal of any magic or sense of adventure. The characters are restrained to merely taking a stroll through the island pointing out different creatures but rarely interacting with the island in any real way. To say Journey 2 is a disappointment is an understatement.
The most glaring weakness of the movie is in the direction. Brad Peyton, hot off the heels of directing Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, did one of the worst directing jobs in recent memory. It would be quite easy to place the blame on abysmal acting, which there was plenty of in this movie, but I have seen actors like the Rock and Michael Caine give solid performances in the past. It’s as if all of the characters in this movie are hopped up on some bazaar sedative. Their reactions to almost everything that happens in the movie defies any sort reasonable emotional response. For instance, their plane crashes on a mysterious island rendering them unconscious. Every single character awakens at roughly the same time, then each stands up and complains about how crummy of a beach it is that they are stranded on. Really? Not one comment about crashing? Not one “I can’t believe we’re alive?!” or “Oh, my Gawd we’re doomed on this island forever!” type panic. Instead they act like it never happened or they crash in a helicopter daily...no big deal. This delusional reaction to events continues through the whole movie. Did Peyton tell his actors not to react the whole movie? I have no idea but it sure seemed that way.
I also blame this director from stripping an adventure movie of all tension. Part of the lack of tension lies with the absence of believable performances. The other part lies at the feet of the director and and his lack in creating a tone. This film had no sense of pacing so it sped through danger and drama as if they wanted the story to end as quickly as possible. There was no build up or importance placed on anything. So despite the apparent danger of being on a sinking island with a bunch of dangerous creatures the characters walked their way through the woods. Occasionally they pointed at giant spiders along the way. When they did face challenges the solutions were quick and easy -- as if thinking or saying "There’s a giant cliff, oh let’s ride some bees." How they all could just casually climb on giant wild bees and ride them like tame horses, I have no clue. The characters in the movie treated it as though they were driving a car down the street, or riding giant bees was a regular occurrence.
Which brings me to the dialog. The dialog in this movie is horrible! Nearly every line had my eyes rolling. Pairing bad dialog with bad acting is never a good idea, and this movie is a giant example why. The dialog is stiff, unbelievable, cheesy, and there is absolutely no attempt to mask exposition in the least. Characters somehow know very specific information at the exact time it’s needed without reason, characters never question anything with any believability, and the delivery through most of it is emotionally empty and comes across almost as though the actors are reading it for the first time off a teleprompter.
The question that most will want to know is will it entertain kids? The answer is yes, at least younger kids. I doubt it will be memorable though. Just because they’re kids doesn’t mean that they can’t tell when a movie is lacking. It does have some neat visuals to the film’s credit. It’s sad that the film didn’t take any risks and used a lot of the features that the island offered. They cast an action star in the Rock and made very little use of him. They had ample opportunity to have a fantastic adventure movie but Journey 2 feels more like a boring montage of Honey I Shrunk the Kids and Jurassic Park, both infinitely better movies by the way.
Films like Journey 2: The Mysterious Island : Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Nim’s Island, and Bridge to Terabithia
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.