‘Journey 2’ too cartoonish

2012-02-13T13:33:00Z ‘Journey 2’ too cartoonishLinda Cook The Quad-City Times
February 13, 2012 1:33 pm  • 

It lost me at the bees.

"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" is kinda/sorta based on the writings of Jules Verne, in a similar vein as its predecessor, "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

This time around, Josh Hutcherson ("The Kids are All Right," "Bridge to Terabithia") is back as Sean, but his uncle (played by Brendan Fraser) is strangely absent. So this is kinda/sorta a sequel as well. And it's also distantly related to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and the Disney version of that tale.

First, Sean is a typical movie Sullen Teen whose parents seem afraid of him and generally beg him to like them. Dwayne Johnson stars as Hank, Sean's stepfather, who helps the boy figure out a radio transmission about a secret Pacific island.

Sean knows the message came from his missing grandfather (Michael Caine) and wants to travel to the area to find him. Hank decides the two of them should go together, so they set off to find someone to take them to the vicinity. They meet tour guide Gabato (Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens, "High School Musical") and take off in Gabato's seaplane.

Naturally, a storm ensues and they end up trapped on the island, where elephants are just the right size for picking up and insects are monstrous (shades of "Them!"). Grandpa and Hank immediately establish that they loathe each other with verbal, third-grader-type sparring, and Grandpa shows his visitors the wonders of the island as the troupe discovers they are in more danger than they imagined, and not from the giant lizard with a frilled neck that they first encounter.

The expected poop joke, the romance and the male bonding are predictable. The movie looks really nifty at times, especially when the 3-D delivers a punch or two.

But when the adventurers began riding giant bees, I stopped caring. How did they steer the bees? Why didn't the bees shake them off? The movie becomes a cartoon at this point.

Speaking of which, if you do decide to go, you must arrive early because there's a real Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd cartoon featuring the voice of - I'm not kidding - the late Mel Blanc. It was made to be released as a recording, but "Daffy's Rhapsody" is brilliant in an animated setting, too. (It's cleverly written to the soundtrack of Liszt's "Hungarian Rhapsody 2.")

Is it worth the journey for the Warner Brothers cartoon? Only you and your wallet can decide.


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