Typically when you see Dwayne Johnson, otherwise known as ‘The Rock’, in a trailer of a movie, it’s almost a guarantee that the film is packed with crazed stunts, an overacted plot and those huge pecs bursting through a skin-tight shirt.
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I like The Rock because he always manages to steal every scene he’s in with that huge on-screen presence; you can’t deny him that. However, some of his films are goofy and tired; d0es anyone remember “The Tooth Fairy?” I hope not. With that said, I walked into this film not expecting much at all and thought the 3D effects were going to be non-existent. I walked out pleasantly surprised and with a smile on my face.
We were first introduced to Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) four years ago in “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” based on the classic Jules Verne tale. Now, Sean has matured into a handsome, determined teenager whose hormones are raging as he eagerly awaits another exciting adventure.
Sean’s mother (Kristin Davis) is newly remarried to Hank (Johnson), who Sean can’t stand and refuses to get along with. One night, Sean starts to decode a distress signal he relayed from a local satellite and convinces himself the message must be coming from his long lost grandfather Alexander (Michael Caine). Hank barges into his room and offers to help Sean with the message, thinking this would be the perfect bonding activity for them.
By determining the longitude and latitude coordinates, they find that the S.O.S. is being broadcast from the foreign waters of the South Pacific. Sean immediately wants to embark on a rescue mission and mother says he can go to the island, just as long as Hank accompanies him.
When they get to their destination across the globe, Sean and Hank run into tour guide Gabato (the hysterical Luis Guzman) and his daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), who agree to fly them to the island on their rinky-dink helicopter. Of course, Sean and Kailani have a corny, predictable tween romance, but that’s expected in a movie like this and it doesn’t hurt the film. One thing that hinders the proceedings, though, is the midriff-bearing, sweaty tank top Hudgens wears throughout the film. This is supposed to be a kids’ movie, and her choice of outfit is a bit too much for young audiences.
Johnson and Guzman hit their relationship right on, and it truly makes the film. The two actors have great chemistry, and their hilarity just bounces off of each other and offer plenty of amusing exchanges onscreen.
With all the incredibly beautiful CGI created landscapes we’ve seen in movies like “Avatar,” “Thor” and “Planet of the Apes,” it becomes a challenge to top cinema’s best. “Journey 2” may not exceed the backdrop of “Avatar,” but it sure is fun to watch the actors gallop around in it. In one especially well done CGI scene, the group rides gigantic bumblebees to get up a mountain. Yes, Caine and Johnson ride bumblebees, and even if you’re not impressed with the CGI, this scene will certainly give you a few chuckles.
Where “Journey 2” gets lost is the horrible stepson and stepfather subplot. Why can’t the scriptwriter just let the movie be funny, goofy and even corny? But the several sappy, sentimental moments between Hank and Sean were completely unnecessary. At least Johnson does the famous “pec pop” in one.
“Journey 2” is certainly a fun hour and a half in the theaters, and if you can get through the useless family drama subplot, you might come out surprised and with a few laughs, too.