Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Movie Poster Image
Adventure sequel is clunky but has positive role models.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 54 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The movie is intended to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Families work hard to stick together and stand by each other, even if that requires making sacrifices. Teens learn to understand and respect their parents and guardians. Together, and by using teamwork, the group is able to overcome many giant-sized challenges.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The movie's two father figures are both positive role models. Neither is perfect -- they have moments of bull-headedness, cowardice, and other flaws -- but they're completely devoted to their kids and will never give up, even if that means making sacrifices or facing fears. A young woman shows that she can take care of herself.

Violence & Scariness

Giant monsters roar and chase the main characters; many of those chases end up with the creatures getting smushed and crunched. There's a somewhat scary helicopter crash scene and some "gross out" scenes as well.

Sexy Stuff

Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens) is shown in slow-motion letting down her hair and removing a button-up shirt to reveal a tight-fitting tank top. Her cleavage is sometimes visible. She and Sean often argue in a flirty way, and there's a kiss at the end.


Sporadic use of potty talk and mild language -- mostly during loud chase scenes -- as well as insults; words include "hell," "oh my God," "ass," "piss,'' "poop," and ''crap."


Sean opens and drinks from a Coca-Cola in an early scene. The label isn't clearly on view, but the bottle's shape and color are unmistakable.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Not an issue except for a quick, humorous line of dialogue: "What were you drinking?"

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. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byZombieSam January 31, 2020

Sexist rubbish

The way the teenage female lead character is portrayed is disgusting. She is wearing hotpants and a small clingy top. There is a gratuitous boob shot early in t... Continue reading
Parent Written byRomy E. February 25, 2017

Tired of sexism.

After seeing Vanessa Hudgens being showcased in such a sexist way I had to stop watching the movie. I don't want my 5 year old boy to think it's ok to... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old March 8, 2013

Journey 2 the Mysterious Island

Suggested MPAA rating: PG/PG-13 for sequences of creature action/peril, and mild language.

Is good action movie for age 9+. If you have your 8 year old watch i... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Cheap Seats November 23, 2012

Believe the Impossible. Discover the Incredible.

Has to be one of the worst movies I've ever seen. I don't throw around one stars and five stars lightly, only when films really deserve it, but this f... Continue reading

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.

On the plus side, the movie has an inviting, warm, open-air feel, and it's more innocuous than it is obnoxious. Strong, positive characters -- including a young woman who can take care of herself -- and family bonding moments are also very appealing. Not to mention that this is the only movie in which you can see former pro wrestler Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. "The Rock") playing the ukulele and singing "What a Wonderful World."

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?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventures

Themes & Topics

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