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18 Jan 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Journey 2 is a rare live-action CGI film that is improved by 3D.

Director: Brad Peyton

Screenplay: Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn

Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Hudgens

While you'd all been waiting for Hunger Games (which will star Josh Hutcherson) or enjoying our Chinese New Year by inflicting visiting relatives with the family-friendly The Kids Are All Right (also starring Josh Hutcherson), maybe you'd like to check out the sequel to Journey to the Centre of the Earth with your favourite pre-teen nephews and nieces who are beginning to learn to hate the season's festivities.

Returning to the franchise is Josh Hutcherson as a teenage adventurer and Jules Verne fan, accompanied this time by Michael Caine pulling off an impression of octogenarian Indiana Jones, Dwayne Johnson stealing entire scenes from Caine with his pectoral flexing and singing skills, Luis Guzman providing the comic relief, and Vanessa Hudgens filling in the slot for a suitably generic love interest in this otherwise sausage fest.

Journey 2 has our jolly team visiting yet another location in the Jules Verne canon – the titular island. What follows is 90 minutes of picture-perfect adventure involving giant insects, miniature animals, the myth of Atlantis, and various nods to other adventure authors like R L Stevenson and Jonathan Swift.

The plot itself makes little logic. It doesn't quite matter anyway since the film is a reasonably well-paced set of chases and puzzles that one imagine might fit into a video game tie-in. As a film for young children, Journey 2 moves at a break-neck pace most of the time, with a strong emphasis on action sequences that are suitably fun, though not dangerous and nothing threatening like the island sequence of 2005's King Kong or grounded in reality and real world biology or physics.

In other words, Journey 2 is a nonsensical, entertaining popcorn flick that's appropriate for its target audience of pre-teens. Adults also have a reason to watch this. Be prepared to be wowed by the outdoors sets, which look like a mixture of CGI, stage sets, and on-location flora. That one cannot tell for sure which is which is a testament to the leaps and bounds of modern filmmaking.

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