By Ashleigh Hill-Buxton
When I sat down this evening to write my review for “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”, I was reminded of something that my high school teachers always told us before we sat our exams – that despite their role of assessing our abilities, examiners were trying to help us, to award us marks wherever possible. Having been reviewing films for some time now, I have begun to realise that anyone responsible for judging the work or skills of somebody else should always try and find merit where it exists.
And so, I always try to find every positive I can in every film I see, regardless of whether it is as dreadful as “Abduction” or entertaining as “Crazy Stupid Love” (one of my favourites from 2011). I appreciate that to somebody, or many somebodies, that this film represents hundreds of hours work in writing, directing, filming, cutting and editing, and so I always try to recognise that each and every film is in some ways, very special – to someone.
“Journey 2” begins, as all teen-oriented films must, with an action scene where protagonist Sean Anderson (JoshHutcherson) manages to ride a dirtbike so spectacularly that he is able to evade several police-cars, tear through a couple of backyards and ending with a jump off of a children’s slide into a pristine swimming pool.
Cut to him sitting in the back of an ambulance, soaked to the skin and obviously in police custody when his stepfather Hank Parsons (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) barrels in to take him home and ground him, because of course, nobody pressed charges.
The first part of the film clips along at an alarmingly quick pace – one minute, Sean detests Hank and cannot stand his presence, but mere minutes later, they have cracked the code of a message Sean heard on a pirate radio station, have become best friends and are on their way to Palau in search of the “Mysterious Island” that only true Vernians – followers of the author Jules Verne – believe actually exists.
Unfortunately, the rest of the film whips along at the same cracking pace, leaving little time for real character development or a chance to really delve into what might’ve been an engaging storyline. Once Sean and Hank have bribed Gabato (Luiz Guzman) and his daughter Kailani(Vanessa Hudgens) into flying their helicopter directly into a hurricane in an attempt to find the Mysterious Island, it’s one major event followed rapidly by another – be itfending off man-eating lizards, finding Sean’s grandfather, Alexander Anderson (played by the illustrious MichaelCaine), finding and translating the lost diary of CaptainNemo before searching for Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilusso that they can escape the rapidly sinking island.
Of course, there’s requisite burgeoning relationship between the slightly awkward Sean and the beautiful, intelligent Kailani; a love interest that develops so quickly and implausibly it’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it.Unsurprisingly, the film resolves happily – as all teen/children’s movies must.
However, thanks to films like “Avatar”, the special effects and sets created for the film are simply stunning. From giant pink butterflies, to elephants as small as household pets to the recreation of the Lost City of Atlantis, everything has been created with a real richness and attention to detail that does not go unnoticed. The CGI is so well-developed that it blends almost seamlessly with the natural beauty of the Hawaiian forests the movie was filmed in to create a truly wonderful landscape.
Yes, the film is fast-paced – perhaps too fast paced, especially for the adults that will no doubt have to endure the film when they take their children to see it. A younger audience will certainly not discriminate, especially as they will be taken in by the colours, sounds and action of the film. I’d certainly recommend it for anyone with school-aged children who want an easy way to entertain the kids on the weekend.
Blu-ray details and Extras :
The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital combo-pack (almost a standard offering now) comes complete with limited few goodies; there’s a brief gag reel, some deleted scenes and an interactive map.
Audio and Video wise, everything looks and sounds as well as you’d expect something like this too on BD – nice 1080p/AVC encode, 5.1 audio track (though at times the dialogue is scratchy) and colours that really pop!