Entertainment Entertainment Movies

'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island' review: A franchise somehow gets more mediocre without Brendan Fraser

*1/2 (out of four)
 
FYI: When punching a lizard in the face, it’s called giving him “the thunder cookie.”
 
At least, that’s what Hank (Dwayne Johnson) calls it when protecting his stepson Sean (Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role from 2008’s Brendan Fraser vehicle “Journey to the Center of the Earth”) as they fight for survival on a remote island that only Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jonathan Swift and Sean’s eccentric grandpa Alexander (Michael Caine) knew existed. Sean’s jazzed for the adventure, especially when their helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) brings along his fetching daughter (Vanessa Hudgens, letting her midriff and cleavage do the acting for her). Hank’s just glad for a chance to make the boy take him seriously as a father figure, which tends to be Johnson’s usual goal if the movie’s rated PG and he’s not tasked with cracking skulls.
 
That means Hank’s a badass who won code-breaking awards in the Navy but says things like, “What in the blue heck is that?” and knows much more about soil liquefaction than you will care to hear. The same goes for the steady stream of awful jokes from Gabato (Guzman) and Alexander trying to heal Sean’s dislocated ankle by noting that “Music is nature’s painkiller.” Anyone suffering from more than a bad day would disagree, and everyone will have a bad day once they hear Johnson’s ensuing ukulele version of “What a Wonderful World.”
 
At times seeming like “National Treasure” doing an “Indiana Jones” impression, “Journey” unimaginatively populates the island with little more than large ants, large spiders and large bees. (Writers Mark and Brian Gunn keep forgetting that “And then they see large insects” is how they spiced up the last scene too.) Fun, apparently, wasn’t willing to make the trip.
 
Some thrilling scenery would pump up the energy of a movie featuring a lot of explanations and slow motion, but director Brad Peyton (“Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore”) crafts a CGI world that only looks more fake behind 3-D glasses. That’s not to say “Journey” makes absolutely no use of 3-D; at one point, Hank demands that Sean throw berries off the big man’s flexing pecs, causing the berries to fly toward our face. Kids, please don’t let this sour your feelings toward fruit.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com. @mattpais

 

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Hot Hollywood interviews
    Hot Hollywood interviews

    The most memorable quotes from our latest movie Q&As, including Margot Robbie, Bella Heathcote, Kevin Costner/Anthony Mackie, Sienna Miller, Emily Ratajkowski, David Oyelowo/Ava DuVernay, Eddie Redmayne, Jon Stewart/Maziar Bahari, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Damien...

  • Shrug-worthy new movies
    Shrug-worthy new movies

    'Bluebird,' 'The DUFF,' 'Kingsman: The Secret Service,' 'The Rewrite,' 'Black or White,' 'Black Sea,' 'Song One,' 'Cake,' 'The Wedding Ringer,' 'Spare Parts,' 'Leviathan,' 'The Interview,' 'Big Eyes,' 'Unbroken,' 'Annie,' 'The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,' 'Top Five,' 'The Imitation...

  • Best new movies
    Best new movies

    Reviews of recent favorites like 'Focus,' 'What We Do in the Shadows,' 4-star 'The Last Five Years,' 'McFarland, USA,' 'Girlhood,' 'Mommy,' 4-star 'A Most Violent Year,' 'American Sniper,' 'Paddington,' 'Two Days, One Night,' 'Still Alice,' 'Selma,' 'Inherent Vice,' 'The Gambler,' 'Mr. Turner,'...

  • Worst new movies
    Worst new movies

    The recent awfulness we've seen, like 'The Lazarus Effect,' 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2,' 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' 'Jupiter Ascending,' 'Seventh Son,' 'The Boy Next Door,' 'Blackhat,' 'Predestination,' 'Into the Woods,' 'Exodus: Gods and Kings,' 'America the Beautiful 3,' 'Dumb and Dumber To,'...

  • Leonard Nimoy, 'Star Trek's' Spock, dies at 83
    Leonard Nimoy, 'Star Trek's' Spock, dies at 83

    In 1975, Leonard Nimoy published an autobiography with the defiant title, "I Am Not Spock" — an attempt to show the world he had many more facets than the pointy-eared character that had come to define him.

  • Indiana may install 'baby boxes' for those giving up newborns
    Indiana may install 'baby boxes' for those giving up newborns

    On the outside, the metal box looks like an oversized bread container. But what's inside could save an abandoned newborn's life.

  • Late-arriving ballots put Ald. Mell out of runoff zone for now
    Late-arriving ballots put Ald. Mell out of runoff zone for now

    Late-arriving absentee ballots have moved Northwest Side Ald. Deb Mell above the benchmark she needs to avoid a runoff --- at least for the moment, according to city election officials.

  • Uber security breach may have affected up to 50,000 drivers
    Uber security breach may have affected up to 50,000 drivers

    Thousands of Uber driver names and driver's license numbers may be in the hands of an unauthorized third party due to a data breach that occurred last year, the ride-hailing company announced today.

Comments
Loading