Saturday, 4 February 2012



What a clunkingly stupid title. First off it's nonsensical, as the journey 2 get there is over very quickly and most of the movie concerns what happens once they're ON the mysterious island. Secondly, if Mysterious Island wasn't the title of the Jules Verne novel, it would be along the lines of The Phantom Menace as a spectacularly ugly title (the ugliest film title ever, I think, is The Chumscrubber, at least until someone makes a movie called Touch My Goat). In fact the 2 in the middle doesn't just function as a supposedly clever pun on to/two as well as being "down wid da kids" txtspeak, because it's actually a sequel to Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, the harmless but stupid Brendan Fraser movie from a few years back (the one where Fraser could get a mobile phone signal while fleeing dinosaurs several miles below the Earth's crust yet would be unable to do so on the Piccadilly line) so there really should be some sort of punctuation mark after the 2.

In essence, the variably punctuated Journey 2 The Mysterious Island (nothing on the screen, a dash on the BBFC's site and a colon on the IMDb) is a throwback to those Doug McClure fantasy movies like Warlords Of Atlantis and At The Earth's Core in which a slightly eccentric group of people turn up in a lost world of monsters and volcanoes but only have a short time before it blows up or sinks into the ocean (or both). Here, the insipid hero (Josh Hutcherson) from Journey To The Centre Of The Earth decodes a radio message from his grandfather (Michael Caine) and, along with stepfather Dwayne Johnson heads over to somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean along with helicopter pilot Luis Guzman and obvious romantic interest Vanessa Hudgens. But they crash when caught in a massive whirlwind and have to trek across the island to find some way home....

The rather fanciful conceit of the first movie was that Jules Verne's novels weren't fantasies but the genuine truth, and there was a worldwide group of people known as Vernians who would attempt to follow in his exploratory footsteps. This continues the idea (also expanding it to encompass Jonathan Swift and Robert Louis Stevenson) with the notion that Atlantis, Captain Nemo and the Nautilus were also real - and even concludes with a suggestion that a further journey would be an even wilder adventure, although when you've seen The Rock and Sir Michael Caine floating around on giant bees while being chased through a forest by giant parrots it's hard to know precisely how much wilder the adventures can get.

Journey 2 is nonsense, but as a kids' movie that's inexplicably released during term time (most schools don't break up for another week) it's acceptable enough: nobody swears, nobody gets badly hurt or takes their clothes off and the ickle elephants are cute. Guzman's role is the knockabout comedy relief, always scared, always falling into things or having giant parrots poo on him. Frankly Johnson isn't as much fun as he is in thudding action movies like Fast Five, despite doing a genuinely horrible thing with his pectorals and accompanying himself on a ukulele singing It's A Wonderful World. The romantic leads are wet as fish, but they usually are. As a family matinee it's okay - it romps along quite efficiently, pauses for breath in the right places, and even has an underlying bitterness about absent fathers threaded through it. Fortunately it's being released in 2D as well as 3D and I watched it in the former; though there are plenty of moments when CGI things are floating about in front of the camera it's yet another instance of the film managing perfectly well without it.


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