Now Playing: Second ‘Journey’ Better Than First, But That’s Not Saying Much

There are literally three things I remember about ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth‘: First, two members of the cast stuck out in my mind because I remember thinking, “Poor Brendan Frasier has fallen a long way” and “This Josh Hutcherson kid sure is a terrible little actor.” Secondly, I remember watching those two running away from a T-Rex. And third, I remember that it was one of the first films to use the new digital 3D technology, but it was used for a lot of cheap effects that tried to make items pop out of the screen. ‘Journey 2’ doesn’t feature Brendan Frasier, and Josh Hutcherson has improved quite a bit, but the movie still misuses 3D and only has a handful of scenes that you’ll remember.

Filling the shoes of Brendan Frasier is The Rock, occasionally known by a few people around the world as Dwayne Johnson. I can’t remember who Frasier played in the first, but The Rock plays Hutcherson’s new step-dad, a muscular ex-naval officer who has an infinite knowledge of everything. After pulling a Sam Flynn from ‘Tron Legacy‘ and breaking into a scientific corporation’s headquarters to take over control of its computers, Hutcherson is busted by the police. The Rock seems to know every police officer, so they let the kid off scott-free. It turns out that the kid was boosting a transmission from his long lost grandpa off the coast of Palau. The Rock uses his literary knowledge to help the kid decipher the message, and the two head off on a father-and-son adventure to Jules Verne’s not-so-fictional Mysterious Island.

Because the island lies in the eye of a perpetual non-stop Category 5 hurricane, no ship will venture into that part of the ocean. That’s how the island has remained untouched for over a hundred years. With the help of chopper pilot Luis Guzman and his cleavage-bearing daughter Vanessa Hudgens, this foursome head straight into danger. After crash landing on the island, they find grandpa (Michael Caine) and quickly realize that they’ve got to get the hell out of Dodge before the whole island sinks into the sea. (If you saw ‘Chipwrecked’, you’re basically watching the same movie with more live-action characters in a more CG-filled world. The story is very much the same.)

I can see exactly why family audiences will love ‘Journey 2’. It’s a lot of big, dumb and mindless fun. But if you don’t have kids to take, you’ll probably hate it the whole time.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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