Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

'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, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Hot Hollywood interviews

    Hot Hollywood interviews

    The most memorable quotes from our latest movie Q&As, including Paul Feig, John Cusack/Brian Wilson, Ethan Hawke, Aubrey Peeples, Nick Kroll, Michiel Huisman, Freida Pinto, Dan Savage, Joel McHale, Noah Baumbach, Veronica Roth, Margot Robbie, Bella Heathcote, Kevin Costner/Anthony Mackie, Sienna...

  • Shrug-worthy new movies

    Shrug-worthy new movies

    'San Andreas,' 'Tomorrowland,' 'Lambert & Stamp,' 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' '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,'...

  • Best new movies

    Best new movies

    Reviews of recent favorites like 'Mad Max: Fury Road,' 'Welcome to Me,' '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...

  • Worst new movies

    Worst new movies

    The recent awfulness we've seen, like 'Entourage,' 'Aloha,' 'Pitch Perfect 2,' 'Hot Pursuit,' 'The D Train,' '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...

  • American Pharoah arrives in New York a Belmont win away from Triple Crown

    American Pharoah arrives in New York a Belmont win away from Triple Crown

    New York offered up a gloomy, chilly Tuesday afternoon for the arrival of racing's next would-be Triple Crown winner. In fact, the rain intensified just as his trailer rumbled onto the grounds at Belmont Park.

  • In Baltimore schools, free meals for all

    In Baltimore schools, free meals for all

    For the first time in the history of the school lunch program, all children in Baltimore are created equal.

  • Police commissioner defends patrol strategy amid violence

    Police commissioner defends patrol strategy amid violence

    Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts on Tuesday defended his patrol strategy amid record violence while also saying all prisoner transport drivers have been retrained to prevent injuries in the wake of Freddie Gray's death.

  • Baltimore jail complex again faces lawsuit over health care

    Baltimore jail complex again faces lawsuit over health care

    Despite decades of lawsuits and settlements aimed at forcing the Baltimore City Detention Center to provide proper health care to those recently arrested or serving short sentences, advocates for detainees returned to court because they say conditions remain inhumane.

Comments
Loading

57°