As movie titles go, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island reads like the TXT message for a much better movie. I went in expecting a mysterious island and left with Journey 2: The Impoverished Elevator Pitch.
Somehow I got suckered into the 3D version of this movie, and 3 “D’s” is exactly what this mess deserves.
There’s a puzzle that needs solving, and The Rock solves it in a matter of seconds. “I used to serve in the Navy,” he explained, by which he meant the Village People song of the same name.
Rock’s stepson is a Jules Verne enthusiast, or as my cable provider’s directory calls him, “Jules Vern.”
Rock is married to Charlotte from Sex and the City in a matchup with only slightly less sexual chemistry than the one featuring Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
So off to a remote island goes Rock and his stepson, where they encounter Luis Guzman. Luis Guzman?! On a remote island?! Where is this island, East LA?
Enter Vanessa Hudgens from High School Musical and a variety of compromising pictures here performing in her most compromising picture yet!
From there, Luis and The Rock are off to another island, the former in a Hawaiiam shirt and the latter in a shirt so tight it suffocated my will to live.
To get to this new “Mysterious Island” Rock must bring along some mysterious sexuality, and our heroes must fly their helicopter straight into a surprise Category 5 hurricane.
“One day science will learn to anticipate these major hurricane events and warn air traffic,” says Luis.
So they’re sucked into the hurricane, and down they go. Fortunately, our heroes survive the devastating crash with only a scrape or two…and a water bottle, and some backpacks, and a map, and a ukelele! Listen, I’ve lost more stuff between my house and the car than these folks lost in a chopper crash!
That’s when this movie first falls in love with its own panoramic vistas, even when they’re obviously painted on the wall of a soundstage.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…Jurassic Park, er, I mean the Mysterious Island!”
“And the even more mysterious career decision of the great Michael Caine,” added Rock.
“You can call Michael Caine ‘great’ all you want, but he’s riding a flying bumblebee,” said Guzman.
“Riding a flying bumblebee sure beats riding Shelley Winters,” said Caine, summoning the kind of mental image best suited to years on a therapist’s couch.
One-liners shoot back and forth between characters at the speed of a very dim light.
Look at the tiny digital elephants! It seems all that is big is small and all that is small is big! “That sounds just like the Oscar nominees!” noted Michael Caine, his bumblebee chewing some hay in a trough.
“Hey, we’re walking on giant eggs!” said Vanessa Hudgens. “And where there are giant eggs there has to be a giant movie that laid them.”
Enter the giant lizard! You know you’re watching fiction Luis Guzman can outrun a giant lizard. Come on!
The giant lizard is about to eat Vanessa!
“I hope it doesn’t like Polynesian food,” deadpans Hudgens as the startled lizard realized his prey wasn’t actually marinated raw fish in coconut cream. “I guess I’ve seen the wrong stolen Internet pictures,” acknowledged the lizard.
The highpoint of this movie is, without question, Rock’s demonstration of his ability to bounce berries off his pecs, usually propelling them at the audience in 3D. If I want to see something bounce off the Rock let it either be some decent dialogue or the communal fist of the audience.
Who’s with me?
Eventually Rock realizes their island is sinking: “It looks like the liquefaction rate tripled overnight,” he said, after 173 takes and a special phonetic pronunciation coach.
Time to build makeshift scuba tanks and escape the island on Captain Nemo’s Nautilus! “Usually I save the submarine metaphors for the men’s shower,” said Rock, “but in this case I’ll make an exception.”
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is one Tim Allen short of a Santa Clause. It’s like performance capture without any performance worth capturing.
And the only thing mysterious about it is how anybody in Hollywood thought this was a good idea. “Damn you, coke-fueled pitch meetings…Damn you all to blue heck!” said New Line COO Toby Emmerich who was not only pulling out his hair but hiring people whose job was to have their hair pulled out.
You’ll need the suspension of disbelief of a 5-year-old, and all the good taste of one, too.
In the meantime, don’t forget to pop your pecs.