Listen to your Top 10 Rock 'n' Vote 2015 finalists here
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 Nick Kroll, Michiel Huisman, Freida Pinto, Dan Savage, Joel McHale, Noah Baumbach, Veronica Roth, Margot Robbie, Bella Heathcote, Kevin Costner/Anthony Mackie, Sienna Miller, Emily Ratajkowski, David Oyelowo/Ava DuVernay, Eddie Redmayne,...

  • Shrug-worthy new movies
    Shrug-worthy new movies

    'Adult Beginners,' 'True Story,' 'Ex Machina,' 'Desert Dancer,' 'Furious 7,' '5 to 7,' 'Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,' 'Danny Collins,' 'The Gunman,' ''71,' 'Maps to the Stars,' 'Bluebird,' 'The DUFF,' 'Kingsman: The Secret Service,' 'The Rewrite,' 'Black or White,' 'Black...

  • Best new movies
    Best new movies

    Reviews of recent favorites like 'Clouds of Sils Maria,' 'While We're Young,' 'Woman in Gold,' 'Insurgent,' 'It Follows,' 'The Hunting Ground,' '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,'...

  • Worst new movies
    Worst new movies

    The recent awfulness we've seen, like 'The Squeeze,' 'The Longest Ride,' 'Get Hard,' 'Serena,' 'Cinderella,' 'Run All Night,' 'The Lazarus Effect,' 'Hot Tub Time Machine 2,' 'Fifty Shades of Grey,' 'Jupiter Ascending,' 'Seventh Son,' 'The Boy Next Door,' 'Blackhat,' 'Predestination,' 'Into the...

  • Bruce Jenner comes out as transgender: 'I am a woman'
    Bruce Jenner comes out as transgender: 'I am a woman'

    In the 1970s, Bruce Jenner was a symbol of American masculinity as an Olympic champion. Nearly 40 years later, in an extraordinary television interview, Jenner told the world that he identifies as a woman and has felt gender confusion since he was a little boy growing up in the New York suburbs.

  • Chicago to return residents to ComEd
    Chicago to return residents to ComEd

    Little more than two years ago, Chicago became the largest city to ditch its traditional electricity supplier, Commonwealth Edison, and venture into the marketplace in search of better deals for its residents.

  • Emanuel names Claypool to 3rd stint as mayoral chief of staff
    Emanuel names Claypool to 3rd stint as mayoral chief of staff

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel has turned to old friend and City Hall veteran Forrest Claypool to be his new chief of staff as the mayor tries to deal with a growing scandal at the Chicago Public Schools and confront a series of lingering, serious problems facing the city as he heads into his second term.

  • 18 original-looking movies coming this summer
    18 original-looking movies coming this summer
Comments
Loading