tek's rating:

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (PG)
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This is the sequel to Journey to the Center of the Earth. Basically the only character returning from the original is Sean Anderson (played by Josh Hutcherson in both films), who is now 17. (His mother was in both movies, but is played by a different actress here. She's a very minor character in both movies, anyway.) The sequel begins with Sean on a dirt bike, eluding a bunch of police cars that are chasing him after he broke into a satellite research station. It later turns out he'd received a coded message over ham radio, and he'd broken into the station to boost the signal so he could get the whole message. Or something. It's in a Vernian code. And Morse code. Anyway, Sean is living with his mom and stepdad, Hank (played by Dwayne Johnson). He's obviously not close to Hank, but Hank (a former Navy man) manages to bond with him by helping crack the code. Sean figures the message must be from his grandfather, Alexander Anderson, who had disappeared a couple of years ago. Alexander was a Vernian, and had apparently discovered the real "Mysterious Island" from the Jules Verne novel. So of course, Sean wanted to go find it, too. And Hank went along with him.

After getting to Palau, they hire a goofy helicopter pilot named Gabato (played by Luiz Guzman), and are joined by Gabato's teenage daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens). Sean develops an instant crush on her, which is definitely not reciprocated, though it's totally predictable that by the end of the movie it will be. Anyway, the four of them fly to the coordinates Sean and Hank had figured out, which of course turns out to be in a crazy-stormy area of the sea where no island should be. And they crash, and find themselves on... the Mysterious Island. They begin to explore it, and soon find Alexander (Michael Caine). So Sean's happy, but he's pretty much the only one who is. Hank and Alexander spend much of the movie arguing or insulting each other. Gabato spends most of the time being scared (and part of the time worrying that he can't afford to send his daughter to college). Alexander reveals that the island is in fact Atlantis, which he says spends half the time under water and half the time above water. It's a 140-year cycle, apparently, and should by his calculations have plenty of years left before it submerges, but Hank quickly realizes they have only a couple of days. And it will be two weeks before a satellite is in position to contact Palau, so no one will be able to get them off the island. So... they decide to go looking for the Nautilus. Yes, the actual submarine from Verne's books, which was apparently hidden there over a century ago.

As with my review of the first movie, I don't want to detail all the fantastic stuff they see and do along the way, all the perils they face and fun they have, and whatnot. But... it was fun to watch. (Both movies were in 3D in theaters, but I only saw them in 2D, on DVD. They're still visually stunning, though.) Oh, and I must mention that Hank sings "What a Wonderful World" at one point, and amazingly enough, he's not bad. (The version that plays over the end credits is a bit better than the one in the movie itself, but either way... not bad.) As with the first movie, it's kind of science fictiony, but more action/adventurey. And kind of silly. And apparently the sequel was not generally received quite as well as the first movie, but personally I think I liked it better than the original. And... I look forward to the third movie (though I'm not sure when that's gonna come out).

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