Brad Peyton is fast becoming the go-to guy for throwaway sequels to moderate franchises. Journey 2, the sequel to Journey To The Center of The Earth, is as throwaway as they come. Utterly devoid of feeling, and room-to-room full of spectacle and cheesy one-liners, this is the very essence of 3D films.
It's gimmicky all get out, and the plot is simplicity itself, and yet the considerable charms of Michael Caine and Dwayne Johnson keep the silliness going for quite a while.
Not to say there is nothing to balk at here. Verne fans will probably take the scene where Dwayne Johnson, formerly The Rock, bounces berries off his man chest.
Verne was foremost a fantasist and futurist. His layered text from Mysterious Island is eschewed for some exposition to the tune of What A Wonderful World, and tons of special effects. The storyline stops and moves a little suddenly, but at least nods to Verne's universe are thrown in quite often.
These are the moments where the movie shines, too - quite a lot of imagination has gone into realizing the special effects that make up the film. As the plot moves along, there are creatures and environments that are fanciful and well-realized.
Josh Hutcherson plays a surly teen who is no longer travelling with his uncle but with his step-father (Johnson), to find his grandfather (Caine). Luis Guzman is the comic relief chopper pilot, and Vanessa Hudgens supplies the romantic tension. Although none of them are as fun as the two adults. Caine and Johnson display more chemistry in their banter with each other, and Caine's joy at the wondrously rendered CGI is palpable.
There is no spark here, no amazing creativity, but more a sense of great visualization and a competently made popcorn flick. This isn't something you must watch - instead, it is a film that you will not regret if your family forces you to take them.
A word on the 3D - this isn't Avatar, but the film was made in 3D and all the gimmicks are created to make you enjoy them as such. Avoid the 2D.