Published Feb 09, 2012Approximately one-third into the unnecessary sequel, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (an ersatz bastardization of Jules Verne's sequel to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea), the Rock tries to bond with his estranged and alienated stepson, Sean (Josh Hutcherson), by advising him that the key to picking up ladies is making his pecs dance. Never mind that they've just narrowly escaped death from a giant lizard while exploring an unnamed island in the South Pacific they're stranded on; it's time for jokes and giggles, with Luis Guzmán bouncing berries off the Rock's chest, much to the protracted delight of 3D viewers.
If there were more lizard chases and fewer awkward comic relief scenes with Guzmán doing his best "Aye, papi" routine, this story of familial exploration gone awry might have been entertaining, in a popcorn blockbuster capacity. Instead, generic, whiny teen Sean, his unlikely stepfather, a cartoonish helicopter pilot and said pilot's feisty daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) wander around the island endlessly, making the occasionally out of place quip when not speculating about how long it will take for everything to submerge in water, a peril none of them seem particularly stressed by.
In fact, there are only two action scenes in entire film: one where they're chased by a pissed-off mother lizard and another where they're chased by birds while riding giant bees. The visual effects are mediocre at best, often falling into Blade II territory when the actors are enveloped in animated action, leaving only the constant, cheesy Friday the 13th Part 3-style 3D to compel, as characters deliberately poke objects out towards the screen while smirking.
Since it's nearly impossible to care about the completely undeveloped characters, the only thing left to engage, or inadvertently amuse, are the occasional slow motion efforts at emotional tension, such as a scene where Hudgens falls from her bee, plummeting to a possible death, leaving Hutcherson to step up and be a man.
Unfortunately, this is also the only pseudo-lesson in the movie; the entire thing is so thematically incoherent it might even prove hazardous to show a child during their formative years. (Warner)