Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Review: "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island"

Last night I attended the Journey 2: The Mysterious Island press screening at SM Mall of Asia IMAX. Thank you to Pinoyexchange, Warner Bros. Pictures Philippines and SM Mall of Asia IMAX [like them on Facebook and follow them @IMAX_SMCinema on Twitter] . You can also read this review at Official PEx Movie Reviews

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a sequel to the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Universe but only one character, Sean, from the original movie returns. Essentially, it's a standalone movie but still exhibits the same vibe of the first one. It's fun enough to say the least but nothing really sticks out to make it a memorable movie experience.

Sean (Josh Hutcherson) receives a mysterious broadcast and with the help of his stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson) they decoded the message which reveals the location of the so-called “The Mysterious Island”. Sean suspects that the message came from his explorer grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine) who he thinks is in the island. Sean and Hank then went to Palau to look for the island and with the help of their tour guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) they travel to find the island. The group faces a storm that ultimately led them to the mysterious island and there they find Alexander. However, the island is slowly sinking and the group needs to find a way to escape the island before it's too late.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island basically follows the family adventure template. We have the adventurous but stubborn central character, the realistic parental figure, the quirky wise man, the comic relief and the hot girl love interest. They go on an adventure with half of the characters reluctant but goes along anyway. They face different troubles along the way but convenient plot devices will help them escape the ordeal. The group will be separated while each character will have their moment of realization. And the final act will have them in the brink of danger but [spoiler alert?] survives and lives happily ever after until the last scene teases a possible sequel.

With a storyline that you could easily tell how it ends from the beginning, the movie should have something that gives it an edge and that's where the production design and visual effects comes in. The design of the ecology in the island is interesting because a world where insects are larger than life is simply fascinating. However, the movie didn't maximize the world they are in and could have explored the place more and give us more exciting scenes. I feel like the sense of adventure was not fully accomplished here. The visual effects are solid except in a chase scene that involves bees wherein the use of green screen is so noticeable. The 3D incorporation is okay but nothing amazing although watching it in IMAX heightens the spectacle.

The acting is good and the cast gel together. Caine will always add “oomph” even to a stock character and Johnston is charismatic enough that he can pull off scenes like jiggling your pectoral muscles without looking pathetic. Hutcherson and Hudgens have the chemistry for their cutesy romantic subplot and Guzman is a scene stealer managing to make the audience laugh every single time he opens his mouth.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a fun family flick but there's nothing more to it beyond that. There's nothing wrong with following a formula especially if it's expertly executed but with a predictable premise coupled with slightly flawed special effects it makes the movie a little stale. 7/10

Opens in Philippine cinemas on February 2, 2012 in 2D, 3D and IMAX 3D

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