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Tag Archives: Cineworld

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

5 Jun

Another New Billboard Day and this one had the potential to be my easiest yet – a simple trip to the cinema to watch Journey 2: The Mysterious Island in 3D.

Anyone that’s met me will probably know that I’m a massive film fan, subscribing to both LOVEFiLM for unlimited DVDs and Cineworld for unlimited cinema trips each month. I also love pretty much anything targeted at kids, therefore being given a valid excuse to see a film strategically released during half term was like a gift from the billboard gods. Add Vanessa Hudgens into the equation (I’ve seen 8 of her 9 films to date – the remaining one is on my LOVEFiLM list) and I was in heaven.

I was going through an ’emo’ stage when I registered

Before taking the challenge any further, I decided I should see the original Journey to the Centre of the Earth (starring box office drain Brendan Fraser) in order to fully appreciate the sequel and also ensure I knew what the hell was going on. I selected the original film as High Priority on LOVEFiLM but the next DVD to drop through my door was Schindler’s List (my tastes are nothing if not eclectic). Based on the fact that Journey 2 starred The Rock, I could only assume it wouldn’t remain in cinemas long and so decided to act fast and buy the original. Now, I don’t know if it’s because the film came out 4 years ago or if it’s because it only received mixed reviews upon release, but Journey to the Centre of the Earth has to be one of the hardest films I have ever tried to find. After scouring the internet and visiting 4 different HMV’s, I finally managed to pick up the last Blu-Ray copy on Oxford Street, complete with those red and blue 3D glasses from the 80’s.

Red and blue 3D is now so old it’s become fashionably retro.

Upon watching the film in the makeshift 3D mode, I can totally understand why they stopped using those glasses – 10 minutes in and I was in excruciating pain and convinced that I had suffered severe retina damage. As for the film itself, it’s a rollercoaster ride that follows Sean (played by Josh Hutcherson of Hunger Games fame) and his surprisingly ripped volcanologist uncle (Fraser) as they go in search of volcanic activity in Iceland but inadvertently take a trip to the centre of the earth and must find their way back to our world before it’s too late. Whereas Sean starts the film as a self-centred jerk due to the fact that he never knew his explorer dad, by the end of the film his journey has been both literal and metaphorical as he’s grown from a boy into a man: balanced, mature and accepting of others.

However, I clearly gave Warner Brothers far too much credit by expecting any continuity with the sequel. 2 of the 3 main characters are missing and the film starts with Sean riding a motorbike in a police chase which ends with him crashing into a neighbour’s pool to the soundtrack of Green Day’s Letterbomb. Any character development from the previous film has clearly been forgotten with Sean yet again acting like a douche to a muscle-bound co-star – this time to his stepdad Hank, played by “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment” himself, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.

Why it’s called “The People’s” Elbow, I’ll never know.

Finding it difficult to connect with his new stepson, Hank takes an active interest in Sean’s endeavours to crack a morse signal he’s intercepted which he believes must have come from his missing grandfather. I’ve tried writing that sentence 3 times and it still sounds ridiculous, but that really is the story. Sat in the family attic, the pair quickly and easily crack the code via the most vague and tenuous of clues, using a couple of nearby books that just happen to house the exact information they’re looking for. Not only that, but by ripping out pages from the two books (which look to be from different publishers), they’re able to overlay illustrations to create a complete map of the titular island where Sean believes his grandfather is trapped. Whilst I was willing to suspend my belief, the fact that it was The Rock playing a cryptographer really did insult my intelligence.

Despite telling Sean that his grandfather wont be there, Hank realises that their 5 minutes of code breaking has been a positive bonding exercise and so inexplicably buys a pair of tickets to Palau on a whim in order to further their relationship and humour Sean in the hunt for his missing grandfather. There they meet comic relief character Gabato (played by the hugely unfunny Luis Guzmán) and his super hot daughter Kailana (Vanessa Hudgens, of course) who offer them a lift by helicopter which eventually hits a hurricane and crash lands into the island. At this point their attitude to the situation seems very blasé, with the solution being that they’ll simply find Sean’s grandfather and then radio for help. Given that the island is only accessible via the eye of a hurricane, I really did wonder what the hell they we’re hoping to achieve by simply speaking into a radio.

However with a plan and a destination to head for, this sets us up for a journey from the island’s beach to finding Sean’s grandfather and eventually attempting their escape in what is as much like a theme park simulator ride as it is an actual film. Throughout their travels across the island, our plucky ragtag of misfits are relentlessly met with a variety of action-packed set pieces designed to bash the audience over the head with including giant lizards, booby-trapped tombs, huge bees and abandoned submarines – often with entertaining results and always in vivid colours and sparkling 3D.

However there were 2 scenes that, despite watching the film 8 weeks ago, I can never erase from my mind and simply can’t go without mention. The end credits showed that The Rock was Executive Producer and the film has clearly been used as a vehicle to portray his vast array of many ‘talents.’ First is the “Pop Your Pecks” scene, whereby Hank assures Sean that the only way to win a woman’s affection is to flex his heavage in both a mesmerising yet mildly terrifying fashion. This clip doesn’t do it justice but I’m afraid there’s no full length video of the scene available online to portray the full horror.

You can’t unsee it.

Second is potentially one of the worst things ever captured on celluloid: The Rock’s rendition of Louis Armstrong’s classic “What A Wonderful World.” Despite having lost two members of their party and his stepson suffering from a suspected broken leg, Hank picks up a nearby ukelele whilst sat by a campfire and performs his own take on the song whilst wearing a smug grin on his impeccably clean face. My toes curled as soon as he began to sing his cringeworthy rendition, but nothing could have prepared me for his horrendous big band version played over the end credits. I swear I’m not making this shit up.

You’ll have to settle for just the ‘acoustic’ version I’m afraid.

I won’t ruin the details of their escape, as first of all I’m sure you don’t care and secondly it’s pretty obvious that they all make it out alive (it’s a kids film after all). Needless to say they are all richer for the experience, not only in the literal sense for Guzman who trousers some gold from a volcano and as a result can send Kailana to college in America, but particularly Hank and the once again placid Sean who end the film having formed the kind of father/son bond that only a escaping a mythical island could produce. Six months after their adventure, we join Sean for his birthday celebrations where his grandfather brings him a copy of Jules Verne’s “From the Earth to the Moon,” proposing that they visit as a family and thereby setting up a third adventure in the series which Warner Bros have since confirmed.

Fingers crossed Vanessa makes it to the threequel.

Overall this was an entertaining hour and a half of escapism which took elements of King Kong, Jurassic Park, Super Mario 64 and The Natural History Museum, wrapped them in a child-friendly package and tied it all up with a bow of strong family values for good measure. Despite my complaints about The Rock’s show stealing, I actually left the cinema liking him and whilst I can’t call it a great film, there’s no doubt that it will appeal to kids (and kids at heart) looking for adventure, comedy, scares and Vanessa Hudgens in tight clothing. I’d give it 3 out of 5.

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