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Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)

Warner Home Video
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/5/2012

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/27/2012

Own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack or Digital Download 6.5.12

Sequels come in all shapes and sizes. Some pick up the story immediately where the previous film left off. Others take the familiar characters and place them in a new story. The exact opposite is done in another sub-set of movies which take a situation which is similar to the prior movie and fill it with new characters. And then we have a very rare and unique kind of sequel which for all intents and purposes looks very similar to the earlier movie save for the fact that a prominent actor has been replaced. This doesn't happen much, but when it does, it creates an odd experience for the audience. This is what we get with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

In 2008's Journey to the Center of the Earth, young Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) went on an adventure under the surface of the Earth with his uncle, Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser). Journey 2: The Mysterious Island begins some time after the conclusion of that story. Josh now lives with his mother, Liz (Kristin Davis) and his stepfather, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), in Dayton, Ohio and he's not very happy with the situation. (I guess once you've been chased by a dinosaur, Dayton pales in comparison.) Sean receives a coded message which he believes is from his grandfather. Hank, who learned about codes in the military, offers to help, and Sean reluctantly agrees. The message reveals the location of the mysterious island, just like the one in the Jules Verne novel of the same name. So, Sean and Hank fly to the South Pacific and then hire helicopter tour guide, Gabato (Luis Guzman), and his daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), to fly them to the coordinates. They soon hit a giant water-spout and the helicopter crash lands on the mysterious island. The quartet soon find themselves surrounded by odd creatures and a beautiful landscapes. They also find Sean's grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine). However, the adventure really kicks into high gear as they look for a way off of the island.

OK, it is just me or does it seem weird the Brendan Fraser wasn't in this movie? Not only is he not in it, his character isn't even mentioned. In fact, this movie seems to want to distance itself from Journey to the Center of the Earth. Why would it want to do that, considering that film was a valid hit. At the end of Journey to the Center of the Earth, Josh and Trevor had clearly formed a bond, and Josh was apparently going to be rich due to the jewels he brought back from the excursion. In Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Trevor's named is never uttered, Sean's previous adventure is a footnote, and we never learn what he did with the jewels. That just seems odd to me. Of course, the movie's oddly worded title should have been a give-away that the filmmakers wanted to move in a new direction.

And yet, they don't, as Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is very similar to its predecessor in several respects. The movie's structure is nearly identical to Journey to the Center of the Earth. This time, it's Sean who gets a mysterious message from a relative and Hank is the one who reluctantly accompanies him on the trip. They quickly get to a foreign, find a guide, and immediately find themselves at their destination. (Say what you will about the two movies, they don't waste time with sub-plots or extraneous characters.) Once they get on the island, they have a few minutes to be fascinated, but then realize that they have to escape. There are two main differences between the two movies. The first is that Journey 2: The Mysterious Island offers a bit more variety in terms of the sort of things that the character's encounter. Due to its setting, the first film was constrained as to what it could throw at the audience. Here, we get a variety of animals, ancient ruins, and tempting treasure. The other difference is that Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is a bit more family-friendly. Sure, there's plenty of action sequences and scenes where the characters are in peril, but the first film had some scary monsters and dealt with the death of a character.

Despite these differences, it's hard to watch Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and not feel that we've seen it all before. The action sequences are very well-staged and the most of the visual effects are top-notch, but there are no surprises in the story and it never feels fresh. The saving grace here is Luis Guzman. This actor has a knack for making it seem as if he doesn't belong in the movie in which he's appearing, and that certainly occurs here. He goes beyond comic relief and becomes a one man joke machine as odd things are happening around him. He's certainly been annoying in other roles, but this movie comes to life every time he talks. (And I bet Dwayne Johnson thought he was going to be the funny one here!) In the end, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is harmless fun for the whole family, but it certainly could have used more depth and an acknowledgement of the first movie wouldn't have hurt.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island never lets us know if that thing in the egg died on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Home Video. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 22 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. This is a very colorful movie and the colors look fantastic, most notably greens. The image is never overly dark or bright. The picture is very crisp and this lends the image an impressive amount of depth, even in this 2-D version. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. This is an impressive track, as we get great surround and stereo effects. The stereo effects do a fine job of highlighting off-screen sounds, and the effects are detailed. The surround sound effects really come to life in the action scenes and they put us in the middle of the audio. The subwoofer effects highlight the explosions, but never rumble too much.

The Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Blu-ray Disc only contains three extras. "Are You Strong Enough to Survive Mysterious Island (sic)" is an interactive segment which delivers 2-minute segments which explores eight important scenes or elements from the movie. These contains comments from the filmmakers and from experts in certain fields, such as animals or history. The Disc contains five DELTED SCENES which run about six minutes. These are all incidental moments, most of which were hacked off of the beginning or end of existing scenes, but at least Brendan Fraser's character gets mentioned here. The other extra is a 1-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long