Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Journey 2: The Mysterious IslandSean Anderson hasn’t exactly had a normal childhood. His father died when he was a baby, but still, Sean inherited the family trait from him — Vernianism. His family has always been Vernians, believing the works of author Jules Verne to be fact rather than fiction. This belief has already led Sean on an adventure to the center of the earth with his uncle, and now he’s picked up a signal from a ham radio somewhere in the Pacific.

It’s from Sean’s grandfather, and it’s from Verne’s Mysterious Island.

Reluctantly, Sean’s stepfather, Hank, allows Sean to visit the coordinates indicated in the radio message — but only if Hank comes along with him. The mission looks dangerous from the start, however. The only way to get out to the coordinates is in a rickety old helicopter, piloted by the simple, childlike Gabato and his beautiful daughter Kailani. And to reach the coordinates, the party will have to fly directly into the eye of a class five hurricane.

Is Sean’s grandfather really alive? Does the Mysterious Island exist, and if so, can the group make it there and off alive? And is Hank right when he says the truth behind the whole adventure is that Sean needs a man in his life?

The Good

There were really a lot of good elements to this film. Once it gets rolling, it’s a fun, rollicking adventure that is in places nothing short of delightful. It was relatively clean, with just a few issues that I will mention in a moment.

Many of the themes were also admirable. Hank is a commendable stepfather, who goes out of his way to nurture Sean and win his heart, to be there for him when no one else will. At every turn of the grand and sometimes very dangerous adventure, he’s there to not only protect Sean, but strengthen him to be a man, and in his own words, “Give him a sense of responsibility.”

From Sean’s perspective, this is at first annoying and embarrassing. He thinks he’s not a kid anymore, and doesn’t need help or advice, and he repeatedly pushes Hank away. At one point he says to Kailani, “Isn’t that the worst, when they try so hard?” to which she replies, “No, the worst would be if they didn’t try at all.” In the end, Sean admits that he truly does need Hank.

Kailani too, while she is not without problems, is a very sweet picture of daughterhood, standing by her father and respecting him even though he’s poor, childish, and bumbling. She helps him faithfully, and accepts the fact that he can’t afford to send her to college with grace and contentment. He in turn loves her with all his heart, and is willing to risk his life in an endeavor to make her life better, even if it is in foolhardy ways.

The Bad

While the film is fairly clean, there are some small content issues. Kailani is very immodestly dressed throughout the film, in short shorts and a very revealing tank top. At one point, while trying to help Sean get her attention, Hank suggests he pop his pecs, and demonstrates the technique. While the tone is definitely comedic rather than sexual, and Sean is disgusted, this is definitely a concern. A character gets covered in bird excrement, and there are one or two other similarly mild crude jokes.

Also, Sean’s attitude for most of the film is very rebellious, to the extent that it is a bit bothersome even though he learns better by the end. The film opens with him on his motorcycle, trying to evade the police after breaking into a satellite facility. He speaks disrespectfully to his stepfather on numerous occasions, though he does learn to respect him greatly by the end.

The romance in the film, while fairly clean, is problematic. Sean is immediately attracted to Kailani, and spends many moments of the film trying to catch her attention, even lying about his hobbies at one point. She is, however, somewhat more serious about it, and calmly deflects his attentions for most of the film. She appears more serious about the relationship, admitting to her father at one point that she does like Sean, but doesn’t see a reason to pursue or accept a relationship, since they will go separate ways after the adventure. However, she does finally give in, and kisses him in the end.

The only other concern is the potential scariness of many scenes — flying into the eye of the storm, the characters being chased by giant lizards and birds, and nearly being zapped by an enormous electric eel, among many other dangers. Kailani encounters a skeleton at one point in the film, and one character dislocates his ankle. While it wasn’t anything excessive, it is worth noting for younger viewers.

The Art

Overall, the film is satisfactory, but really not exceptional. The story goes a little too quickly for the first act, but is otherwise pretty well paced. It’s over the top in some places, and some of their deductions about Verne’s clues seem to leap logic a little, but it’s mostly just a fun ride.

The characters are mostly good, and the verbal sparring for supremacy between Hank and Sean’s grandfather, Alexander, is amusing. Gabato’s childishness tends to be more annoying and silly than funny or endearing, though he has his moments.

Andrew Lockington’s music does a very good job balancing themes from the first film while still adding plenty of new material to fit with the new story, and is a decent score, accenting the action and emotion well.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a fun ride with lots of merit to it, but it is not exceptional, and caution is advised. A classic? No. An enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours? I’d say yes. And with that in mind, I’d give the film a 2.5/5.

  1. Great review! Do you think someone has to have read Verne’s books to enjoy the film to the fullest?

    • Grace Pennington
    • March 18th, 2012

    I haven’t read the book, so no. 😉 I imagine there are nuances that would only be caught if you’d read the book, though, as there were in the first film.

    • Kaitlyn E.
    • March 19th, 2012

    Great review, Grace, thank you. Having liked the first one, I was very curious how this one would be. I am a Dwayne Johnson fan as well, so that was an added curiosity.

    Verne’s book was not necessary for the first movie, Aubrey, so I imagine it is not needed for this one, either.

    I do love his books, though. 😀

      • Grace Pennington
      • March 19th, 2012

      Thanks! 😀 This one was not as good as the first in most ways, but was really fun.

      And I don’t generally care for Dwayne Johnson, but I really liked him in this. 😀

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