Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Cain, Vanessa Hudgens, Luis Guzman and Kristin Davis.
Australian Release Date: January 19th, 2012
Australian Rating: PG
Journey 2 follows Sean Anderson [Josh Hutcherson], the young boy in the previous movie: Journey to the Centre of The Earth, as he follows “Vernian” clues left by his grandfather [Michael Cain]. It is loosely based on the book Journey to the Mysterious Island, written by Jules Verne. But that is these movies’ best feature in my opinion. The story is not the same, so it can’t be put down as a poor adaptation of the story in the book. Instead, it is set in modern times, and just has those places of wonder as real existent places. The premise is that “Vernians” (people who believe that Verne did in fact have the adventures he wrote about) search for these places, and when they find them, they use the books as a guide.
I wouldn’t exactly call it a great movie, but it was fun and entertaining. Who doesn’t enjoy adventure in wondrous places, following clues, and references to childhood favourite books? Even if you haven’t read any of the books referenced in the movie, most references are pretty obvious, e.g. “… the treasure from Treasure Island…” You would think that that level of blatancy would be annoying and patronising, but it works surprisingly well in the context. You must also consider that it is a family movie, and kids of these days aren’t as quick on the uptake as we were at that age. Haha, let’s just put it down to: you can’t get the story wrong since it is its own story, as long as the world is portrayed correctly, there is nothing to get “wrong”.
Characterisation and growth wasn’t too bad. Average for what you would expect from a movie in this genre. The only issue I had was with the overly slapstick (i.e. annoying) character of Gabato [Luis Guzman], the helicopter pilot, but once again, it is a family movie and the comedy kids understand best is slapstick, physical and emotional. But he was good for the role. Michael Cain is a favourite actor of mine, and I feel that he, Dwayne Johnson and Josh Hutcherson did a fine job in their parts. Vanessa Hudgens I wasn’t too caught up with. She seemed a little put on in some scenes, and that’s what an actor tries to avoid.
Needless to say, in a movie such as this, much CGI was had. Things like the giant lizard and bees looked good, but far from real, yet the tiny elephant that Hank [Dwayne Johnson] picks up was done pretty well. It’s usually quite difficult to have a character interact with a CGI object/being, but the movements and pressure from his hands, plus the strain in his muscles from the weight of picking it up, all fit together quite nicely. Overall it was all done so colourfully, dynamically and full of detail, from the lizard’s scales, to the birds’ feathers, to the bees’ fuzz. This was also the first 3D movie I watched in 3D and didn’t have a migraine afterwards. You could tell the moments when the 3D was meant to be a highlight, but they never impress me. I still prefer my movies to be in 2D screening. Besides, TVs can now do the level of 3D that these movies use, with regular TV viewing.
Overall: enjoyable movie. Nothing great. Nothing spectacular. Just light-hearted fun.