A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is the sequel to 2008's entertaining Journey to the Center of the Earth. The Hunger Games' Josh Hutcherson is the sole returning cast member, but the tone is very similar to the original. Overall, it's a family-friendly adventure -- albeit one with frequent tense chases, monster attacks, and a somewhat scary helicopter crash (some of which is a bit more intense in the movie's 3-D version). There's also flirting and a kiss between the two main teen characters, and co-star Vanessa Hudgens is often shown wearing a tight, cleavage-enhancing tank top. Expect some gross-out humor, as well as potty talk and very sporadic mild language ("ass," "hell," etc.). This is no cinematic classic, but it is bright and cheerful and has positive characters, including fatherly role models.
What's the story?
After surviving his Journey to the Center of the Earth, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) is back living with his mom (Kristin Davis) and step-dad, Hank (Dwayne Johnson). Sean gets a coded message from his grandfather about the location of Jules Verne's famed "Mysterious Island." Hoping for some much-needed bonding time, Hank volunteers to go with him. In Palau, they hire a ramshackle helicopter, piloted by Gabato (Luis Guzman). Happily for Sean, Gabato's pretty daughter, Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens), comes with the deal. After crashing on the island, the explorers discover a world of tiny elephants, huge bees, and lost cities. But they also realize that they must find Sean's grandfather -- and discover a way off the island before time runs out.
Is it any good?
From the director of Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND is as clumsy and clunky as its title. The pace is speedy, but it seems as though the movie sacrificed logic, character, mood, and rhythm to achieve that speed. Moreover, the visual effects appear soft and never quite mesh with the real stuff. Even the 3D effects don't really add anything except for the occasional "comin' at ya" moment.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Journey 2's violence and scary stuff. How does its fantasy nature affect its impact? How do the movie's intense experiences affect Sean and his step-dad's relationship?
How does the movie portray families? How does that message/depiction compare to what you've seen in other movies and TV shows?
How does the movie portray fathers? There's a theme of "missing dads," but there are also great dad characters here. What's the take-away?
The first Journey movie was an adaptation of a Jules Verne novel; this movie's title also cites a Verne book but isn't a direct adaptation. What other books does it remind you of? Are there any you'd like to read after watching the movie?
- In theaters: February 10, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: June 5, 2012
- Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Josh Hutcherson, Vanessa Hudgens
- Director: Brad Peyton
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some adventure action, and brief mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.