Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

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Journey 2: The Mysterious IslandIn 2008, Josh Hutcherson starred in a rape of the classic Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. This week he returns for sloppy seconds in an almost completely unrelated vehicle, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, aka The Death of Michael Caine's Career. Hutcherson's character Sean Anderson is the only common thread connecting the two films as he again goes in search of a missing family member trapped in a 3D theme-park caricature of a Jules Verne environment.

This time it is Sean's grandfather, perhaps the worst role ever written for Michael Caine, who has sent a secret radio message from Verne's Mysterious Island. Joined unwillingly by his stepfather Hank (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), Sean sets out for a weekend round-the-world trip of adventure and male bonding. Along the way they pick up down-on-his-luck pilot and single parent Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), who becomes Sean's love interest because apparently she's the first girl he's ever seen.

Calling Journey 2: The Mysterious Island a rape of Verne's work is not entirely accurate, since the movie really makes no effort to actually include any of his storylines instead of simply mining them for tiny elephants and giant insects seen in the trailer. These are used to populate a story so inept it appears to have been written by members of its target 13-year-old audience. It was actually penned by brothers Brian and Mark Gunn, whose prior feature film credits include only the screenplay for direct-to-video Bring It On Again. It was directed by Brad Peyton, who brought us Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.

Forget about the blatant misuse of the word "science," the characters themselves are weak and inconsistent. Hutcherson's Sean Anderson, an insufferable juvenile delinquent, is so intent on finding his grandfather that he's willing to run away from home ... but as soon as he meets Kailani, his motivation becomes entirely the need to impress her.

In the meantime, stepfather Hank and grandfather Alexander have a rivalry, even an enmity, which can't be explained given they've never before met. No mention is made of Sean's previous adventure nor any characters from the first movie. Guzman's Gabato is along just to provide comic relief, and he hams up his performance so much it is at times nearly unbearably stupid.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is not something I'd want my kids to see. It is certainly not something I would ever want to see again. Save your money and go spend five bucks to pick up a copy of The Goonies to watch this weekend instead.