*We were first introduced to Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) about four years ago when he embarked on a very eventful “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” courtesy of Jules Verne. Now, although he’s matured from a wide-eyed adolescent into a handsome, headstrong teenager with raging hormones, the lustful lad remains game for another exciting adventure.
At the point of departure of Journey 2, we find him decoding a cryptic distress signal being relayed via satellite from parts unknown. By locating the longitudinal and latitudinal coordinates, he determines that the S.O.S. is being broadcast from uncharted waters in the South Pacific.
Next, he convinces himself that the message must be coming from his long-lost grandfather, Alexander (Michael Caine), an intrepid explorer who disappeared around the same area. Only by cobbling together maps printed on the pages of three literary classics: Verne’s Mysterious Island, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Jonathan Swifts’ Gulliver’s Travels, is Sean able to figure out that his grandpa might have discovered the Lost City of Atlantis.
When Sean insists on immediately mounting a rescue mission, his mom (Kristin Davis) gives permission on the condition that he be accompanied by his stepdad, Hank (Dwayne Johnson), a hunky Navy veteran. The two soon depart for the exotic island of Palau, where they hire Gabato, a cowardly pilot (Luis Guzman) with a gorgeous daughter (Vanessa Hudgens) to fly them to a destination not on the map.
En route, they encounter a severe hurricane which has skittish Gabato struggling to control the chopper while Sean and Kailani make eyes at each other. The helicopter ends up crashing on the shore of an upside-down land of enchantment where small animals are large and vice-versa.
Hence, our heroes are as amused by a pride of miniature elephants as by enormous butterflies and bees big enough for a person to ride. Hopping aboard accommodating yellow jackets, the motley quartet proceeds to look for grandpa while simultaneously soaking in an array of visually-captivating sights ranging from ancient ruins to an active volcano which spews lava of pure gold.
Seamlessly blending elements of all three aforementioned novels, Journey 2 is a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride guaranteed to keep the tyke and ‘tweener demos on the edge of their seats. The kid-friendly fantasy is breathtaking and frenetically paced but not frightening, and it even has its share of hilarious moments of comic relief, plus a heartwarming message to boot.
The best 3-D adventure since Avatar!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG for action adventure and a mild epithet.
Running time: 94 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers
Watch the trailer for “Journey 2: Mysterious Island”: