"JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND" 2 1/2 — Dwayne Johnson, Michael Caine, Josh Hutcherson, Luis Guzman, Vanessa Hudgens; PG (adventure action and brief mild language); in general release
Diehard fans of Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson and even Jonathan Swift will be looking for the exit doors about 27 minutes into the new film, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island."
Those who are just looking for a fun, non-offensive movie the entire family can attend will most likely finish off the popcorn, slurp down the 44-ouncer and walk out entertained.
You might recall that Brendan Fraser starred in the first movie, "Journey to the Center of the Earth," but filmmakers were unable to strike a deal with Fraser. So they created a new character and turned to Dwayne Johnson to play Hank.
So who is Hank?
He's the husband of Liz Anderson, who is the mother of Sean Anderson, who is the nephew of the former Brendan Fraser character, Trevor Anderson, who in the first movie trekked off to Iceland to find Sean's missing father.
There will be a quiz at the end of this review, so I hope you're paying attention.
Hank, who is former military, is determined to develop a relationship with Sean, who has received a coded message from yet another Anderson, dear old Grandpa, played by Michael Caine.
The former sailor immediately recognizes the message to be Morse Code that leads them to the works of Verne, Stevenson and Swift to create a map disclosing the location of … "The Mysterious Island."
Hank talks Liz into allowing a bonding adventure, and he and Sean head off for the legendary site.
Ah, but when they arrive in the general area, they are assured that no island exists on the coordinates and no one will guide them to the site — no one, that is, except for Gabato and Kailani, father and daughter played by Luis Guzman and Vanessa Hudgens, who operate a dilapidated helicopter touring company.
Imagine this: They all take off and encounter a Bermuda Triangle-like area where you fly in, but you don't fly out … but wait, there is indeed an island in the middle of the mayhem.
Who saw that coming? They crash, find Grandpa, discover everything Jules Verne wrote about is true, fend off great peril and realize they are all in mortal danger. But how, oh how, will they escape?
Well, that has something to do with Capt. Nemo … but we won't go into that here.
Dwayne Johnson has an on-screen presence that is amazing. Even while in some of the most ridiculous situations, he turns to the camera, flexes his considerable muscles, flashes his signature smile and all is forgiven.
Michael Caine, a truly fine actor, descends into "goofiness," but even that is trumped by Luis Guzman, who takes his character off the cliff. Then, there's Vanessa Hudgens, who turns in a good performance as the spunky romantic interest for young Sean. And, speaking of Sean … Josh Hutcherson is just OK.
Again, this film will have Verne purists near meltdown, but those who can roll with the implausibilities and even absurdities will be mildly entertained.
"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" is rated PG for adventure action and brief mild language; running time: 94 minutes.