The big bugs and busts of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Journey 2 is the sequel to the Brendan Fraser film Journey to the Center of the Earth, and it’s actually pretty terrible.

Sean, the nephew of the explorer played by Brendon Fraser in the first film, finds a message from his lost grandfather, and sets out with his stepfather to locate Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island.

The opening of the film is rapid fire, preposterous crap, which sets the action poorly in motion, and casts the characters in a strange light.

They may as well have begun the movie with the crash-landing on the shore of the island because everything before that is rushed and pretentious, simultaneously treating the audience like they don’t care about the plot, while also pretending they have an inability to understand even basic logical devices.

The rest of the film is a drawn-out effects extravaganza, obviously created only to showcase the CGI, which isn’t all that impressive, and places far too much value on the 3D by throwing things at the audience and forcing vertiginous view-scapes on them, as if this would be the first 3D film they’ve ever seen.

The characters never come to a satisfactory understanding, constantly playing off of each other in ways which simply seem juvenile and mean, especially for a family of supposed geniuses of academia and exploration. Gone is any of the great character dynamics brought to the first film by Fraser and his co-star Anita Briem.

The connection to that first film is only tangential. The one character who returns, Sean, played by Josh Hucherson, is written as a completely different person. Here he’s a brooding, punk teenager, with few likable qualities. His attempts to be an independent person are infantile, and his advances on the female lead, played by the pretty but not very talented Vanessa Hudgens are nearly offensive, and make little narrative sense.

Johnson’s performance is overly goofy and his interactions strangely petty. In a story which could really have benefited from at least one straight man, we have none. This character could have at least saved the film from those poor character dynamics, but Johnson’s wooden performance, and his character’s complete lack of sympathetic traits makes him difficult to relate to, and it turns each character into a farce whenever they interact with his. 

In fact, none of the characters are truly likable or relatable. Except for the girl, the trite and condescending ‘pretty girl who is wiser than everyone around her,’ all of them seem to have been written as the comic relief. Even Caine, who usually gives fun performances, is off his game here. I’m perfectly willing to blame all this on a rushed and poorly thought-out script, but that doesn’t make the film any more watchable.

Frankly, Journey 2 its exactly the kind of film we don’t need more of. It’s a movie which clearly panders the sequel as an excuse to sell tickets to fans of the first film, with no care for the franchise, in a Hollywood which has moved past such devices. Recent sequels and franchises have shown us that the way to success and critical acclaim is to take your franchise seriously and make a truly good series of films from it. There is no chance for a third film here, this one is too far off the mark.

With the dumb title, silly characters, pointless plot, and poorly utilized 3D effects, I have to say skip it.