'The Mysterious Island' sputters along 

In the new 3-D sequel to 2008’s fun “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” Josh Hutcherson again plays teen adventurer Sean Anderson.

No other cast member, writer or director showed up for this one, and it’s fairly clear why: “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” is as clumsy and clunky as its title, a slapdash effort that feels forced.

Having survived a trip to the center of the earth, Sean lives with his mom (Kristin Davis) and new stepdad, Hank (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Obsessed with another Jules Verne tale, “The Mysterious Island,” he receives a secret transmission from his absent grandfather about the island’s location.

Looking for some bonding time, Hank volunteers to go to it with him.

In Palau, they rent a ramshackle helicopter and hire its equally ramshackle pilot, Gabato (Luis Guzman). Happily for Sean, Gabato’s pretty daughter Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) comes with the deal.

Once they find the island, it’s a race against time to get off again.

The island itself is more mildly diverting than mysterious, decorated with lazy computer-generated effects such as tiny elephants, giant bees and sprawling landscapes.

The 3-D effects, anything but seamless, are used only on a couple of throwaway “comin’ at ya” moments in the film, the second feature directed by Brad Peyton of “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore” fame.

The movie does have an open, sunny and cheerful feel. Yet in his attempt to set a fast pace, Peyton throws away logic, rhythm, tone and character development.

What passes for a character arc is a scene in which Sean throws a fit because Hank won’t allow him to detour to a special volcano, even though Sean knows all too well about their time limit and impending doom.

Still, this is the only movie in which viewers will see former wrestler Johnson playing a ukulele and singing “What a Wonderful World,” as well as bounce berries off of his flexing pectorals.

The movie’s bonus reel, “Daffy’s Rhapsody,” is far better. In this terrific new Elmer Fudd vs. Daffy Duck cartoon, digital images are accompanied by an old song recorded by the late Mel Blanc. It’s sharp, nimble and funny — everything the feature is not.

MOVIE REVIEW

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Two stars
Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Hudgens, Kristin Davis
Written by Brian Gunn, Mark Gunn, Richard Outten
Directed by Brad Peyton
Rated PG
Running time 1 hour, 34 minutes

About The Author

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Jeffrey M. Anderson

Bio:
Jeffrey M. Anderson has written about movies for the San Francisco Examiner since 2000, in addition to many other publications and websites. He holds a master's degree in cinema, and has appeared as an expert on film festival panels, television, and radio. He is a founding member of the San Francisco Film Critics... more
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