Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012)
"Believe the impossible. Discover the incredible."
I may be a young adult male, but there's still something to be said of the charm of family-oriented movies. From the get-go, Journey 2 lets you know that it aims to please in what one expects of a family film - a whimsical plot filled with imaginative visuals and eccentric characters, as well as the deep touching undercurrents of topics that some younger folks may not get. It rather much delivers on its promise to deliver as well, even if as I sit and watch it, I can't help but feel that the flick was oriented towards a 3-D experience over the simple 2-D plane I was watching it on.
Young Sean (Josh Hutcherson) is much like your stereotypical rebellious youth with a step-dad he doesn't like from any other film - except he has a grandfather (Michael Caine) who has happened to stumble upon the Mysterious Island of one Jules Verne. After receiving the message (by breaking into a satellite facility to boost his radio's signal), Step-dad Hank (Dwayne Johnson) decides to go along with the "joke" to bond with Sean (after convincing Sean's mom). Upon reaching their departure location, they meet the father-daughter team of pilot Gabato (Luis Guzmán) and Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), who ferry them off via helicopter to the location they want - that just so happens to be in the middle of a dangerous storm-ridden batch of the Pacific. Things heat up quick when the storm over-powers the little helicopter, and they crash.
From there, it's all the island of the title as far as scenery goes, as their group goes about eventually meeting Sean's grandfather, and then their escape from the island - which is sinking due to tectonic plates shifting. As it would turn out, the only feasible means of escape is to find Captain Nemo's submarine, the Nautilus, which just so happens to be perched on the opposite end of the island! The gang has to cut through the center of the island in which it's big inhabitants are small and the small ones big to save time, and that is when the adventure truly starts.
It's pretty straightforward, filled with comedy through both interactions of characters, the characters themselves, and jokes placed throughout the flick - which also serves to be a wonderful little moment of relief with all this countdown to sinking and pressures from the island's creatures going on. We get to learn a little bit about Hank as far as story goes, but the only real character building going on for the most part consists in relationships more than the characters themselves. The undertones of Hank's struggle to be seen as a father figure and accepted by Sean persist through the movie until we get close to the close (as is the case for most movies of the type), and the father-daughter relationship of the other is enhance by Gabato's burning desire to do the best for his daughter (like send her to college). We even get treated a bit to a slight romance that blooms over the course of the movie between our younger two actors, as we would see (nothing really mold breaking here - if you've seen one movie with teen romance, you've seen them all).
The visuals of the island are absolutely beautiful, and although one could fault it to some extent of some rather blatant CG work (especially on creatures), it never feels as though it's trying to make everything look real in the first place. It's all over the top, to giant bees and a volcano of gold, but it works very much on the level of making you feel like a kid as you ooh and ahh over the imagination running rampant on the screen. The visuals don't stop on the island either, delving into another segment (albeit much shorter) under the water towards the end.
Audio does a good enough job backing up the feel of wonder, chiming in with adventurous cues or sudden notes that help add to the frantic countdown of the island. Lines are delivered well, and sometimes even feel boosted in levels to help hear over the background noise. There's a lot of witty banter between Hank and the grandfather, and a lot of the comedy comes from that as well as Gabato and his misfortunes. Heck, there even happens to be a scene in which we get treated to Hank doing a lovely rendition of It's a Beautiful World. Dwayne is a man of many talents, without a doubt.
When the credits roll, I know I've gotten everything out of this movie that I wanted to: a lighthearted tune of adventure with some minor deep rumblings of human nature and family. I laughed throughout the movie, both with and at the movie, and can say that it should be a film that's safe even for the young'uns. The cast did a good job, and even if it's full of cliches, it never grates on the nerves as they appear up to it's feel good end. I won't outright recommend it - I understand family movies aren't everyone's cup of tea - but if you are into that kind of flick, or want to watch a movie with someone that is, this one should certainly not make you hate your experience as you go.